There was relief all round in Dublin Airport as people left stranded in Britain because of the travel ban enacted over the weekend began return- ing home for Christmas on government-chartered flights.
Panic took hold of many Irish people when a ban on all travel to and from Britain came into effect at midnight on Sunday to tackle the mutant strain of Covid-19 that is taking hold in the south-east of England.
The rushin the hope of catching a last-minute flight home which left saw a flight from Heathrow to Dublin over-booked, with some passengers left behind.
Caroline Werfelli, Saffron Werfelli and Alex Shorten, from Limerick, were among those stuck in Britain who returned home on a char- tered flight from Stansted to Dublin on Tuesday evening.
On Monday, the Depart- ment of Foreign Affairs quickly set up a hotline for Irish residents so it could arrange flights home for citizens.
More than 500 calls were made to the hotline on its first day in operation, while consular flights and ferry access were organised for those who were legitimately unable to leave Britain.
Mick Morrissey, from Kilmeaden, Co Waterford, was clearly delighted to be back on Irish soil as he held his bags aloft after returning to Dublin from Stansted on Monday evening.
Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney confirmed yesterday that the flights were only for residents who were in Britain short-term or in transit.
The flights would not be available to Irish people living in Britain who had intended to travel home for the Christmas break.
The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed there would be only two or three flights a day on Monday and Tuesday to get people home.
There was chaos at Heathrow on Sunday night, with one Irish passenger describing the scenes as like being in “an end of the world movie”, with hundreds of people trying to get on to flights that became overbooked.
“At least one flight will depart from London. The other departure airport will be decided by the demand from those who contact the Department of Foreign Affairs assistance line,” a spokesperson said.