Thursday 22 August 2019

'Complex' talks on Isil bride getting home to take 'some time'

Lisa Smith: The Louth mother is held in a camp in northern Syria
Lisa Smith: The Louth mother is held in a camp in northern Syria

Ralph Riegel

Negotiations are at an advanced stage over the repatriation of Isil bride and former Defence Forces member Lisa Smith (37) to Ireland.

The Government has been engaged in painstaking talks with charities, aid agencies and several foreign governments for the past two months over how to get the Louth woman and her child from northern Syria to a third country where they can be flown to Ireland.

However, a senior Government source dismissed suggestions the return of the former Air Corps recruit was imminent.

"It is a very complex process. It may well yet take some time to resolve," he said.

The source also dismissed rumours that Ms Smith was already on her way back to Ireland, saying: "That is not the case."

Ireland has been working with a number of other European countries who also have nationals in Syria.

Isil brides from countries including the UK, France, Denmark and Sweden are demanding repatriation - and Ireland has been using these diplomatic contacts to secure a channel to get Ms Smith home.

Kurdish fighters, who operate the camps where Isil brides, sympathisers and fighters are now being held in northern Syria, said they wanted to ease pressure on swelling camp numbers by shipping home European detainees in groups rather than as individuals.

Backed by their US allies, the Kurds have demanded that European countries accept responsibility for handling Isil sympathisers from their jurisdictions.

The Kurds fear that individual repatriations could take months or even years to negotiate.

It had been hoped that transfer of small groups of Isil sympathisers to a third country such as Jordan or Turkey for onward repatriation would prove much faster than protracted individual transfers.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney both indicated efforts are under way to get Ms Smith and her two-year-old daughter Ruqayya to Ireland.

Irish Independent

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