A heroic Donegal nurse who answered Ireland’s call to fight on the coronavirus front line is stranded in Australia.
Hundreds more, many jobless because of Covid-19, are also stuck, with others stranded in the United Arab Emirates.
The only flights home that by-pass a new Middle East no-fly zone and Singapore are costing up to €12,000.
Nurse Aine Gleeson, 24, from Buncrana, last night described how more than 100 Irish including doctors and nurses were barred from their flight.
“Leo Varadkar asked us to come home. We quit our jobs and are now stranded. We need help to get home,” Aine told the Irish Mirror.
All other passengers were turned away at the gate as authorities in Abu Dhabi suddenly brought forward a decision to bar non-nationals from entering the territory.
Some found out via social media.
“Effective immediately, passengers departing from international destinations will only be allowed to travel if they are UAE citizens or diplomatic passport holders, and only if their final destination is Abu Dhabi,” Etihad said on its Twitter.
Now, many are being put up in the homes of the GAA community in Melbourne who have rallied around.
Aine said: “I’m a member of Padraig Pearses, one of five clubs in Melbourne. “They have been like family helping people who are stuck,” she said.
There are other Irish in Sydney and Perth also desperate to get home but unable to do so via the main flight hubs in the Middle East.
They include 65 Irish doctors in Perth who have called on the Government to arrange a charter flight.
The doctors quit their jobs to come home answering the call made by the HSE.
The only seats available now are business class via countries like Canada with eye- watering ticket prices.
“I was looking at flights on Skyscanner for between €10,000 and €12,000,” said Aine, who worked in St Vincent’s hospital in Dublin.
She is most concerned about the Irish who were in Australia on working holiday visas but suddenly lost their job because of the virus.
“They didn’t come to Australia to save money so that is a big issue for them. They cannot afford this,” she said.
She took the decision to come home after hearing the plea made by Mr Varadkar.
“I came out here on a working holiday visa but then I got sponsored for a job with the health service. I am trying to get home. I’m a psychiatric nurse and I think we will be needed more than ever in the current situation,” she said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is providing some help but no flights home yet.
“We are in direct contact with a number of Irish citizens currently in Australia, through the Irish embassy in Canberra and the consulate general in Sydney.
“This is a rapidly evolving situation and consular officials are following up with Irish citizens providing all possible advice and support in relation to those seeking to repatriate to Ireland,” they have said.Tags: