Taoiseach says travel ban on Irish woman detained in Dubai for ‘attempted suicide’ has been lifted – The Irish Times

Taoiseach Simon Harris has the Dáil that the travel ban on Co Roscommon woman Tori Towey, who has been reportedly charged with attempted suicide and consuming alcohol in Dubai, has been lifted.

Ms Towey (28), who moved to the city in the United Arab Emirates where she worked for Emirates Airlines, had been prevented from leaving the country as a result of the charges, the Dáil heard on Tuesday.

“The embassy will take take Tori to the airport as soon as she is ready to go,” Mr Harris told TDs on Wednesday. “And the embassy will of course continue to follow up the case which is still active as of now.

“I just wanted to inform the house of that and to thank our embassy,” he said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is providing consular assistance to Ms Towey, whose case was first highlighted by Dubai Detained, which said it is representing her and her mother.

On Tuesday, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald told the Dáil that Ms Towey has been the victim of domestic violence and is subject to a travel ban over allegations she illegally consumed alcohol and attempted suicide. Attempted suicide is a crime in the Arab state, carrying a sentence of up to six months.

Speaking on Wednesday morning, Mr Harris said he had spoken to Ms Towey and her mother Caroline.

Speaking to reporters in Leinster House, he said he was limited in what he could say but that Ms Towey had been through the “most horrific situation”. He said it was utterly unacceptable treatment of an Irish citizen and she had been a victim of male violence and should be allowed return to her home in Ireland.

He said he had spoken to the Irish ambassador in the region who had been working on the case for some time, and he had spoken with Tánaiste Micheal Martin on the matter as well. He said she was the victim of a brutal attack and found herself walking up not in a hospital but in a police station.

There was a “lot of diplomatic activity going on in the background”, Mr Harris said. “She needs to be supported, she needs to be brought back home, to her home here in Ireland, and we need the travel ban lifted to make that happen.”

Commenting earlier on the Government’s response, Detained in Dubai chief executive Radha Stirling said: “I’m super impressed by Ireland’s response, it was so swift.

“When a Government gets behind their citizens, when they go the extra mile, they are successful in getting citizens home,” she said on Newstalk Breakfast.

Ms Stirling, who is in daily contact with Ms Towey, was hopeful that diplomatic efforts by the Department of Foreign Affairs would lead to the case against Ms Towey being dropped and the travel ban lifted so she could return to Ireland.

Outlining the background to the case, Ms Stirling said Ms Towey’s case is due to be heard in Dubai next week.

She said Ms Towey had moved to Dubai last year to pursue an aviation career. “She was working as cabin crew for Emirates Airlines, and she ended up marrying a South African man. Things went south very quickly, and he became physically abusive to her. She went to hospital and had severe injuries,” Ms Stirling said.

“After that, there was another assault and she broke free, ran up to the bathroom, and she woke up with paramedics and police over her, and she was taken to the police station and actually charged with, attempted suicide and consuming alcohol.”

The situation was “absurd” that a woman who had been assaulted would be further abused by the system, Ms Stirling said.

“We have seen over the years, we’ve seen rape victims charged with sex outside marriage. We’ve seen this kind of culture coming from the UAE before. They had made an effort for public relations purposes, they were starting to take women’s rights a bit more seriously, victim rights. But it seems like nothing has changed.

“And this is truly astonishing that someone who’s been beaten to the degree that she has bruises all over her body, and now she’s being abused by the system itself again. So I find it outrageous,” Ms Stiring said.

“And I can see that’s why there’s so much support out there from Irish citizens, from politicians, from your leaders in your Government. So it’s amazing to see people really standing behind her and wanting her home as soon as possible.

“When it comes to a case like this, it’s all about diplomacy. Without the support of the Irish Government, she would be likely to face prison and charges and deportation,” she said.

“Various members of the Irish Government have contacted the UAE ambassador to Ireland and of course Ireland’s ambassador in the UAE, and they’re trying to get those diplomatic talks happening. If that happens, that is the best and fastest way to get her home.

“She was told she had been charged with alcohol abuse and attempted suicide. Now I validated this with the Department of Public Prosecutions today and it’s exactly as they said. So there’s been no differences to the charges. And so they are proceeding on that, which is very bizarre since they allegedly decriminalised attempted suicide in the past couple of years and also have been promoting that they have decriminalised alcohol consumption,” Ms Stirling said.

“So it’s quite surprising that they would proceed to charge, especially her, under these circumstances, and take her to court, knowing that she obviously needs help, needs to just go home with her family.”

Ireland’s ambassador to UAE spoke with Ms Towey last night, and she is staying in an Airbnb with her mother Caroline who flew out to support her, according to Ms Stirling.

“She is exhausted and she’s finding it very overwhelming. But at the same time, we’re really, really warmed by all of the support that she’s been getting. I don’t think she expected all of that. I don’t think she expected the Irish Government to motivate themselves as quickly. And this is the fastest I’ve ever seen this happen from a Government. So I’m super impressed by Ireland’s response.”

“We’ve dealt with many human rights issues like this, and when the Government gets behind the citizen and talks to their counterparts, the foreign affairs ministry in the UAE escalates it even to the ruler, Sheikh Mohammed, or the head of the police department and the justice system. When they do that and they go the extra mile rather than just deferring it and pretending they can’t do anything, when they actually make the effort, they are successful in getting the citizens home.”

“She is very, very much looking forward to coming home and recovering from what’s been an extremely terrible, shocking year for her, in fact. So I think she needs to heal. She needs to be around friends and family and the safety of her country,” Ms Stirling said.

According to its website, Detained in Dubai provides confidential legal help in civil and criminal cases and consults with governments internationally on UAE legal issues.

Anne Flynn, aunt of Ms Towey, said the family is hoping that diplomatic efforts will lead to charges being dropped and her return to Ireland. “We are just all very, very anxious,” she told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

“We keep hoping that we’ll get word that they’re [Ms Towey and her mother, Caroline] on a plane. On the way home. I don’t know. Will this court case go ahead? Or if it goes, what will happen? You know, we’re just very hopeful. And it’s really terrible that this has happened to a young woman, you know, that was full of life and full of adventure. And she loved travelling. And, you know, she’s a beautiful young woman.

“I’ve been in touch with them every day, several times a day, since all this started – they’re both trying to keep positive. We’re trying to keep positive as well. But it’s on your mind constantly, and I’m sure it’s on their minds because all the family gets in touch with them, you know? And, it’s so far away, you know, but hopefully with Radha Stirling, the Taoiseach and all the Ministers, this will help. Hopefully, we’ll hear good news.

“We’re hoping that just something will happen, that it won’t go to court. It’s hard to believe that this young woman has been charged with trying to commit suicide. And, you know, it’s very, very hard to believe it.”

Source link