Falling number of Irish arrested abroad since 2019 reflects Covid travel restrictions


Nearly 480 Irish nationals have been arrested abroad in the last three years in circumstances that have informed the Foreign Office.

Another 81 were sent to prison – with most detentions taking place in other European countries – according to records released under freedom of information legislation.

The department said not every Irish person who has been arrested or detained sought their help and there could be cases that have not been brought to their attention.

The number of Irish flirting with the law abroad has fallen significantly as the Covid-19 pandemic restricted travel opportunities.

In 2019, 243 citizens were arrested – more than the combined number of 2020 (120 arrests) and 2021 (116 arrests).

By far the largest number of arrests took place in Europe, with 315 people being taken into custody in EU countries or other parts of the continent.

Another 70 arrests were made in Asia and the Middle East, 42 in North America and 29 in Australia and the rest of Oceania.

The department was also informed of 17 arrests of citizens in Africa and just six for all of South and Central America.

The number of Irish passport holders in jail also fell dramatically during the pandemic.

There were 39 Irish people jailed abroad in 2019 – compared to 22 in 2020 and just 20 last year.

Of the 81 citizens jailed, 46 were jailed in Europe and another 23 jailed in Australia or Oceania. Three Irish were imprisoned in Asia or the Middle East, six in North America, two in South or Central America and only one in Africa.

The department declined to provide a breakdown by country of arrest or detention.

This is to “protect the identity of affected citizens,” the department said. Falling number of Irish arrested abroad since 2019 reflects Covid travel restrictions

Fry Electronics Team

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