Mum tells of nightmare wait to bring Ellie home after alleged kidnapping
THE mother of eight-year-old Ellie Silva, who was taken by her Portuguese father for seven months, has said she doesn't know when she'll be able to take her daughter home to Ireland.
Candice Gannon has spoken of her frustration over the slow-moving Portuguese legal system and her fear that the schoolgirl's father, Filipe Silva, may try to take his daughter again.
There is no restraining order against the 34-year-old businessman and joint parental authority granted to him by a Portuguese court last year means that he still has visitation rights and a say in where she lives.
Ms Gannon (27) said she did not know when Portuguese authorities would allow her to bring her daughter home to Ireland.
"It's just awful what's going on," she told the Irish Independent. "It's one thing after another. How much more do we have to go through as a family?"
Mr Silva (34) allegedly kidnapped his daughter after he collected her from Ms Gannon at Dublin Airport last July for a two-week holiday.
Ms Gannon didn't see Ellie for seven months until they were reunited last week when Mr Silva's mother handed her granddaughter over to Portuguese authorities.
Mr Silva had been arrested four days earlier on February 8 and was released on bail while he is investigated on suspicion of kidnapping his daughter.
He has since given a TV interview in which he said he had no regrets about taking Ellie, vowing he would continue his efforts to win custody of his daughter.
Ms Gannon, meanwhile, remains on the Portuguese island of Madeira as she doesn't have permission to return to Ireland with Ellie. She has lived there for the past five years as the custody battle raged in the courts.
"I'm just so happy that I've got my daughter back and she's safe," she said. But she added: "What we're feeling sick about every day is, is he going to take her away from me again?
"It's a nightmare at the moment."
Ellie had "been through hell and back and she's going to need a lot of support", Ms Gannon said.
"She really doesn't need her father to come over and interrupt all of that and upset her because, ultimately, I'm an adult and he's an adult, but she's only eight years old and she's the one who's going to get affected in the long run."
Her husband, Irishman Philip Gannon, said it was always the family's intention to settle in Ireland but that they were "trapped" in Portugal due to Mr Silva's parental rights.
He said Ms Gannon had written to Mr Silva last summer asking for permission to move Ellie to Ireland but was refused.
Meanwhile, Ms Gannon rejected as "rubbish" allegations by Mr Silva in a Portuguese TV interview that she had changed his daughter's second name to Gannon, disrupted her education and stopped her from learning Portuguese.
In the interview he said that taking his daughter were the actions of a "desperate father, looking for the truth and the love of my daughter".
He added: "I will obviously continue to fight for my daughter.