Ireland has an obligation to protect Lisa Smith’s young daughter, Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said.
Mr Coveney has told the Dáil that Ms Smith, who travelled to Syria to support Islamic State, will face Garda questioning on her return to Ireland, but that his primary concern is now for her child
Ms Smith and daughter, aged two, are currently being held in a camp along the Turkish-Syrian border.
Mr Coveney said: “There are only two people involved in conversations that we have with the Turkish authorities.
“One is a very young child in a very vulnerable situation.
“And she is my primary concern here. And I believe we have obligations in that regard.”
Responding to Fianna Fáil’s Seán Haughey — who asked if Ms Smith would be questioned by gardaí or if she would be regarded as a person of interest on her return to the country — Mr Coveney said: “There are all sorts of questions around radicalisation, around questioning, around the role of An Garda Síochána if and when Lisa Smith comes home.
“They are questions that we have to deal with comprehensively across Government in multiple different government departments, in particular the Department of Justice and in my department, so we are working closely together to make sure that we do what is appropriate here.
“But as I say my primary concern is a two-year-old little girl who in my view as an Irish citizen, we have an obligation to protect.”
The Tánaiste also confirmed reports members of the Defence Forces had been sent to Turkey, but he said this was solely to support the Irish embassy team and not for the purpose of repatriating Ms Smith and her child.
“It makes sense to have military personnel speaking to military personnel, although some people were suggesting that we were sending over Defence Force personnel to extract Lisa Smith from north east Syria, that is not the case and was never the case, they are providing an important support role, both from a security perspective but also a communications perspective to the ambassador and her team.”