Members of the Oireachtas often must contact Irish embassies abroad but are told the mobile telephone number of the relevant ambassador or consul cannot be provided.
I was recently obliged to contact the Irish consulate in Perth, Australia. We do not contact embassies or consulates because we want to have a chat with the ambassador or the consul in order to discover how things are going. We need direct contact but we are informed that it is not possible for us to be given the mobile numbers of ambassadors or consuls. The Tánaiste, other members and I have the numbers of various such individuals because we asked for them directly. I do not believe it is too much to ask that when members contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in order to obtain the mobile numbers and other contact details of duty officers, etc., these should be supplied. Given the time differences which often apply and the fact that we might be trying to contact someone out of hours, it makes our job in following up on representations we have received from people who are in dire circumstances that bit more difficult. In such circumstances, I request that the Department put in place a system whereby Oireachtas Members might be given direct access to our consulates and embassies abroad.