Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
35. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the supports available to Irish citizens based in the Canary Islands impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11311/20]
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provides all possible consular advice and assistance to citizens overseas, where requested and where appropriate.
As part of the comprehensive approach to assisting our citizens overseas in the context of COVID-19, a particular focus of our work has been on helping those who are normally resident in Ireland to return home safely. Since the beginning of the pandemic, my Department has assisted over 6,000 citizens to return. We continue to help many other Irish citizens overseas, including approximately 1,000 who have registered an interest in returning home. In certain very exceptional cases, financial assistance can be considered for citizens who require it in order to return home safely. This assistance is in the form of a loan, repayable within 6 months.
In terms of social protection available to Irish people based abroad, the level provided within each EU Member State is a matter for individual Governments and there are of course differences between EU Member States. The social protection services of EU Member States cannot discriminate between EU citizens living and working in their countries, either in the context of emergency Covid-19 payments or more generally with regard to other social protection supports.
In Spain, financial supports are available through the national, regional, and local governments and can therefore vary between regions. Our Embassy in Madrid can advise on what supports Irish citizens registered as resident in the Canary Islands may apply for, such as rent relief, unemployment or furlough supports and a recently introduced minimum income scheme for low-income households.
Any citizens in difficulty abroad, including in the Canary Islands, are encouraged to make contact with their nearest Irish diplomatic mission, in this case the Irish Embassy in Madrid, whereby all possible consular assistance will be made available. This includes facilitating contact with the relevant local authorities, as well as advice which takes into account their particular circumstances.