Sunday 21 April 2019

'Duty of care to mother and child' - Coveney bids to bring them home

Mother and daughter: Lisa Smith with her two-year old daughter Ruqayya in Syria
Mother and daughter: Lisa Smith with her two-year old daughter Ruqayya in Syria

Ralph Riegel

TÁNAISTE Simon Coveney confirmed the Government is working to facilitate the return of Isil bride Lisa Smith (37) to Ireland with her two-year-old daughter.

Mr Coveney stressed the Government owed both Ms Smith and her toddler daughter "a duty of care".

However, he warned the logistics of securing the return of the former Air Corps recruit to Ireland were "very complex" given she is in a Syrian camp in an effective war zone which is controlled by Kurdish forces.

"There is a meeting between my Department [Foreign Affairs], the Department of Defence and the Department of Justice to co-ordinate a Government response in relation to how we assist her.

"Of course, there is heightened concern because there is a two-year-old girl involved in this as well.

"This is an unusual case. But the Taoiseach and I have made it very clear she is an Irish citizen. We have a responsibility towards her and, in particular, her daughter.

"Part of the problem here is that this is a war zone or at least a former war zone."

Family

"She also does not have the capability to communicate easily from where she is," Mr Coveney added.

"We have not had direct contact from her. We are staying in close contact with her family and keeping them informed."

Mr Coveney said he had spoken to Ms Smith's brother earlier this month, adding that he has given her family a commitment to keep them informed at all times.

"This is a complicated case - we deal with a lot of complicated consular cases all over the world.

"Sometimes it is victims, sometimes it is people who have gotten into trouble.

"This involves a young child and a mother, both of them Irish citizens, in a war zone, in a camp that was linked to partners and children of Isil fighters. [It is controlled] largely by Kurds so it is more complicated than most consular cases would be, to put it mildly.

"But, we do have a responsibility here as a State both to her and, in particular, we have a duty of care to a two-year-old Irish girl who happens to be in a very vulnerable situation. We are taking that seriously."

Irish Independent

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