Gardaí have duty to ensure safety of Lisa Smith, says Garda boss

Gardaí have a duty to protect jihadist supporter Lisa Smith and her family just like any other citizen, commissioner Drew Harris has said.

Gardaí have duty to ensure safety of Lisa Smith, says Garda boss

Gardaí have a duty to protect jihadist supporter Lisa Smith and her family just like any other citizen, commissioner Drew Harris has said.

He indicated the issue would be assessed on her return, but declined to go into specifics of her case.

Ms Smith, a former member of the Defence Forces, travelled to live in the Islamic State in Syria and married an IS fighter.

She has been in the hands of Turkish authorities since she left a Kurdish-run detention camp in northern Syria following Turkey’s invasion of the territory.

Turkey recently began a policy of deportation and repatriation of IS fighters and their families, who are EU citizens, back to their home countries.

A Department of Foreign Affairs team has been out there negotiating with authorities and determining the identity of Ms Smith and particularly that of her two-year-old daughter.

Ms Smith has indicated she will voluntarily speak to gardaí on her return. Security sources said this would assist them given they would not have to arrest her.

Mr Harris declined to go into detail on this apart from saying there was an investigation in place.

“That investigation has to run its course and that’s appropriate and it’s wrong for me to comment any further upon that individual. Although she has been the subject of a huge amount of media commentary, and a lot of commentary about her return to Ireland, at the same time we have to deal with her as an individual and we have to conduct our duties in a responsible manner,” he said.

The Garda has been appointed the lead agency for Ms Smith on her return.

The Irish Examiner reported this month that three risk assessments were being conducted regarding Ms Smith: her personal safety; the safety of her family; and the threat posed by her to the security of the State.

Gardaí are thought to be particularly concerned if Ms Smith insisted on going back to live with her family in Dundalk, Co Louth, fearing they might be at risk of hate crime or right-wing attacks.

Asked about the Garda’s duties to the safety of Ms Smith and her family, the commissioner said:

“In the context of any individual who is a citizen of the state our duty is to protect them and family members and these things are assessed as we go along.”

Asked about her return to Ireland, Tanaiste Simon Coveney said progress was being made at a political level and in regard to child welfare issues.

“We’re working on that case like we had been for a number of weeks. And I don’t think it’s helpful for me to add anything further.

He admitted that many people wanted information about the case but there were “privacy issues”, adding:

“And this is a very complicated case. It has been for a number of weeks now, we have been in regular contact with our counterparts in Turkey.

“And we continue to work on that case in a way that deals with the complexity of it. Both from a child welfare perspective, but also in the context of Lisa Smith’s history for the last number of years.

“I don’t think it’s helpful for me to make any further commentary until the case progresses.”

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