Taoiseach confirms plans have been made to take care of Lisa Smith's child

Taoiseach confirms plans have been made to take care of Lisa Smith's child

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he is satisfied with plans put in place to care for Lisa Smith's child when she and her daughter return to Ireland.

The 38-year-old Dundalk woman travelled to Syria in 2016 to join the so-called Islamic State group.

She is currently in Turkey, but is expected home within the next week, and she will be interviewed by gardaí when she returns.

The Taoiseach also said that the child and family agency TUSLA, the Defence Forces and the gardaí are involved in plans to look after the both of them.

Mr Varadkar said her two-year-old daughter is an Irish citizen who should be looked after.

The Taoiseach said: "It is a tricky situation and ultimately the child is an Irish citizen and deserves to be protected, in my view, ultimately we seek to protect our citizens.

"Obviously, as regards to Lisa Smith, that's a slightly different situation but she is our citizen and it wouldn't be fair to expect the Turkish authorities to hold her indefinitely."

“So, as an Irish citizen she is free to return home to Ireland. But if she does return home, the gardai are going to want to talk to her.

“We need to ensure that the child’s welfare is protected.”

Speaking at the Garda Training College in Templemore, Mr Varadkar added: “Of course there are relatives who are in contact, but also Tusla are aware that the situation may arise.”

Ms Smith, from Co Louth, said the father of her child was a suspected member of IS who died last year.

She has left the Syrian camp where she has lived for a number of years to begin her journey home, and is being assisted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Defence Forces.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said: “There is a garda investigation under way and that of course will continue.”

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the Gardaí have specific responsibilities in regards to Ms Smith, but he would not comment further.

Asked whether he is satisfied with the plans put in place by the Gardaí, Mr Harris said: “Yes I am and I would have presented those plans so I am content with what we are putting forward.

“I think we will have a suitable and proportionate response.”

Asked about the possibility of a de-radicalisation programme for people coming to Ireland from conflict zones, Mr Harris said the country is not facing the same problems as other European nations.

“We can look at this in a bespoke manner as we are doing,” he added.

People should be reassured that constantly we’re addressing threats to the State and part of that is returning individuals and how we manage those.

“A specific programme, as we may see in some of our neighbouring European states, we just don’t have the same demands upon us, but we are managing them in a bespoke fashion proportionate to what we think the threat is and proportionate to what we think is appropriate in circumstances.

“This is a matter for ourselves in terms of our security function and it would be wrong for me to go into all of that, but people should be reassured that we are constantly on our guard in terms of the security the State and that includes those returning from foreign states.”

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