Written answers

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

Department of Foreign Affairs

Consular Assistance

9:00 pm

Photo of Olivia MitchellOlivia Mitchell (Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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Question 126: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of Irish people for whom the Department of Foreign Affairs has paid court-imposed bond since 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13031/06]

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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As I outlined in my reply of 21 February 2006 to a parliamentary question on this general issue, consular assistance is provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs in a wide variety of circumstances, with each situation being assessed case by case having regard to all the factors involved. The Department, for instance, is prepared to advance funds to assist Irish citizens where this is judged to be required to ensure their security and safety and where the individuals concerned cannot gain immediate access to the necessary funds.

Since 2002, an advancement of the funds by the Department in a court bond context occurred in the case of three Irish citizens in Colombia. In this particular consular case, the court judgment permitted the three citizens to be released from prison under conditional freedom on payment of a bond. My Department, at the request of the defence team and given the ongoing consular concerns about the safety of the persons concerned advanced the funds to facilitate the payment of this bond on the basis of a firm undertaking to repay the sum involved. The funds were repaid in full. The decision to advance funds was taken by the Department in pursuit of its consular responsibilities, and was neither discussed nor taken at political level.

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