Belfast Telegraph

Irish Islamic State member not expected home soon, deputy leader says

Lisa Smith has denied fighting for jihadist militants.

Simon Coveney said his major concern was the child involved (Niall Carson/PA)
Simon Coveney said his major concern was the child involved (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

A former Irish soldier who joined the so-called Islamic State group is not expected to return to the country any time soon, Ireland’s deputy leader has said.

Lisa Smith, who went to live in Islamic State-controlled Syria after converting to Islam, was previously detained in a refugee camp in Syria with her two year-old daughter.

Ms Smith has denied fighting for jihadist militants, and says her child was born to a British father, a suspected member of the caliphate, who died last year.

The 37-year-old, originally from Co Louth, has since left the camp which held Isis family members and has now begun the long process of returning home, assisted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Irish Defence Forces.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has already indicated that Ms Smith would be permitted to return to Ireland if she wished.

As people will know Lisa Smith has a two year-old daughter, she is an Irish citizen, she is my primary concern in all of this Simon Coveney

Numerous media reports over the weekend speculated how and when Ms Smith and her daughter would return, and the details of their journey, which is likely to take them through Turkey.

On Monday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and deputy leader Simon Coveney said the speculation was unhelpful, and his major concern is the child involved.

“The first thing I’d say is that it’s not helpful to speculate in relation to this case, it’s a sensitive and complex case and has been for a number of months now,” he said.

“As people will know Lisa Smith has a two year-old daughter, she is an Irish citizen, she is my primary concern in all of this.

“We’re treating this as a consular case, and as with all consular cases regardless of the circumstances or the complexity, they need to be treated confidentially and sensitively, and this is a case which is extremely complicated.

“We’re working on it, we have assistance from Defence Forces personnel, with our team in the embassy in Turkey, and they’re working with the Turkish authorities on this case, and I don’t think it’s helpful to speculate on the back of rumour.”

A source in the Department of Foreign Affairs said the media regarding the case had been “over reported”, had not come from anyone within the Department, and Ms Smith is not expected to return to Ireland any time soon.

“We have a good team in our embassy in Ankara working with Turkish Authorities in this case, we’re not likely to see a major breakthrough in the coming days but I am hopeful that within a few weeks we may be able to make progress,” Mr Coveney added.

“As I’ve said my primary concern is with a two-year-old child who is an Irish citizen, both she had her mother Lisa are part of a consular case we’ve been working on some time now, we made the decision to bring both Irish citizens home, if we can, and we’re working on that, but it’s not helpful to give detail of what’s happening.”

A spokesman for the Irish Defence Forces said: “For reasons of operational security, Oglaigh na hEireann do not comment on the movements or disposition of personnel.”

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph