THE MUM of tug-of-love schoolgirl Ellie Silva has pressed for a travel ban on the youngster to be lifted so she can return to Ireland.
Candice Gannon said she was desperate to take the eight-year-old back to their home in Ballsbridge, Dublin, to see family and friends.
A court order – put in place last September after Ellie's dad Filipe Silva allegedly kidnapped her – is preventing her from leaving Portugal.
Irish citizen Candice (27) now married to Dublin businessman Philip Gannon said : "I feel like I'm living in a prison.
"We've been living in Portugal to honour the terms of the custody agreement with Filipe but Ireland is our real home.
"Ellie's grandparents are desperate to see her and she's got nephews, cousins and friends in Ireland who have been asking about her.
"It's very frustrating. I feel like we're being punished for a crime we haven't committed.
She said: "We're trying to get the travel ban on Ellie lifted because we need a holiday but we don't know how long it's going to take."
Ellie's dad took her passport off her before refusing to return her to her mum after a two-week holiday last July.
He was arrested last Friday near Lisbon – four days before his mum handed her over to the police in the city of Porto.
The 34-year-old businessman is currently on bail while he is being formally investigated on suspicion of kidnap.
Ellie's mum, who has spent the last year living between Ireland and a rented home in Madeira, has been told by consular staff they can give her an emergency travel document if she gets permission to leave the country.
Ellie's stepdad Philip (44) who is currently staying in a hotel near Faro with the youngster, Candice and their two-year-old daughter Olivia, said: "We feel very much like we're being made to stay here against our will and it's something we're addressing with our lawyer.
"We'd obviously like long-term to get back to Ireland but all we want at the moment is a much-needed holiday so Ellie can see her friends and family.
"At the moment we feel very badly let down by the Portuguese justice system."
Ellie, meanwhile, was enjoying her second day back with her mum after their tearful reunion at a children's home the day before yesterday.