Govt secured return of Lisa Smith in light of 'dire conditions' her daughter faced in Syria - Coveney

Govt secured return of Lisa Smith in light of 'dire conditions' her daughter faced in Syria - Coveney
The Turkish Airlines plane carrying Lisa Smith lands at Dublin Airport and Lisa Smith leaves the aircraft with a pink blanket over her head.Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said the Irish Government secured the return of Lisa Smith and her daughter in light of the “dire conditions” the child faced in a Syrian camp.

He said worked for months to secure the release of Lisa Murphy and her 2-year-old daughter.

Speaking following their arrival back in Ireland following deportation from Turkey on Sunday, Mr Coveney said that the case was a “very complex” consular one which required the removal of a child from a war zone.

Mr Coveney had said he and the Government has been “very careful” not to speak about the case, despite being asked a lot of questions.

He said that months ago, he learned that Ms Smith was seeking consular assistance for her daughter who is also an Irish citizen who have been living in dire conditions in camps.

“We have been working with partners to ensure we could respond, a complex consular case, primarily the safety of a 2-year-old girl in a war zone, living in camps where there have been high instances of child mortality,” he told RTE radio.

“So we have been, quietly and professionally working to secure the welfare of the child with the help of the Turkish authorities, who insisted on returning them to Ireland,” he added.

Asked about public concern about Ms Smith's return to Ireland and her now “living among us”, Mr Coveney retorted by saying: “She is not living among them, she is a garda station being questioned.”

As to what happens next, Mr Coveney says it is now up to the DPP to determine as to whether they can take a case successfully against her. He said it is best to leave that process takes its course.

Mr Coveney also said that as there is a young child involved, the Child Protection Agency, Tusla, are also involved in her case as to determine the appropriate care for her.

In a statement, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said:“On her arrival in Dublin, Lisa Smith was met by An Garda Síochána. In the case of Ms. Smith’s child, established procedures for her care will be followed.”

An Garda Síochána and the Director of Public Prosecutions are responsible for criminal investigations based on facts and evidence in all cases and it would not be appropriate for me to comment on those matters.

"This is a sensitive case and I want to reassure people that all relevant State agencies are closely involved,” he said.

“A multi-agency network is in place here comprising agency personnel who engage on an ongoing basis with international colleagues regarding emerging practice in relation to the complex issue of radicalisation.

"This network will coordinate engagement on a case by case basis as and when appropriate,” the minister added.

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