Tug-of-love Ellie finally reunited with her family
TUG-of-love schoolgirl Ellie Gannon was reunited with her family in Ireland amid emotional scenes after years of legal wrangling.
Her stepfather Philip Gannon (47), who escorted her home to Dublin from the Portuguese island of Madeira, spoke of their relief and delight to have her back on Irish soil.
"We are so, so relieved," said the Ballsbridge businessman, adding that "the last 22 months have been absolutely relentless but thankfully in the end the nut finally cracked".
Ellie's mother, Dublin-based Candice Gannon (29), has been fighting a long battle for her daughter, which has resulted in her being granted full custody.
Nine-year-old Ellie's father, Filipe Silva (36), is facing kidnapping charges after taking Ellie almost two years ago.
Ellie had been living in Madeira before her mother secured a court ruling allowing her to be raised in Ireland with her mother, stepfather and three younger siblings.
Mr Gannon collected her from Madeira yesterday and flew to Gatwick before arriving into Dublin Airport last night shortly after 8pm.
"She just came running to me and just said 'get me out of here," explained Mr Gannon about the pair's emotional reunion in Madeira yesterday morning. "Ellie is delighted, she's smiling from ear-to-ear."
Ms Gannon took her new-born twins Henry and Charles, and Ellie's sister Olivi (3) to Dublin Airport to welcome her daughter home.
The family of six last night sat down for their first meal together in seven months.
"She is just so happy," stated Mr Gannon. "She wrote cards home on the plane to her brothers and sister and mum saying 'I love you."
The mum of four had been living with the schoolgirl in Madeira during the court case but was forced to return to Ireland because of health concerns over her expectant twins.
Ellie, who will be 10 in December, has been living in a grubby hotel in Madeira with Mr Silva and his mum Ana Maria since Candice's forced return to Ireland last year.
He still faces a kidnap trial over his alleged July 2012 abduction of his daughter, kept from Candice for nearly seven months at a hideaway in the Portuguese city of Porto.