State has a responsibility to bring Lisa Smith home, says Coveney

Update 13:40: Tanaiste Simon Coveney has said that the State has a responsibility to bring Irish Isil bride Lisa Smith home to her native country.

Speaking at Cork Airport the Tanaiste indicated that the Government owes a duty of care to the 37-year-old Louth woman and her child.

The former soldier with the Defence Forces told CNN that she is "living in a prison" and "wants to go home."

Ms Smith left Dundalk for Syria four years ago and married an Isil sympathiser who subsequently died. She had served with the Defence Forces in Ireland for ten years.

In the interview she said that people should realise that "all the people here are not terrorists. I want to go home." When asked asked if she feared prosecution and being sent to prison if returned home she stated that she was already in a form of prison.

"I know they'd strip me of my passport, and I wouldn't travel and I would be watched, but prison? I don't know. I'm already in prison."

Mr Coveney described the case of Ms Smith as "unusual" as "it involves a young child and a mother, both of them Irish citizens in a warzone, in a camp that was linked to some partners and children of ISIS fighters, controlled largely by Kurds."

He said that it was more complicated than most consular cases would be, to put it mildly, but emphasised that "we do have a responsibility here as a State."

Simon Coveney

"Like all Irish people we want to look after them and bring them home if they want to come home. We have a responsibility towards her and in particular her daughter, and we will try to follow through on this responsibility and find a way to bring her home. "

He added that part of the problem is that this is a former war zone and it isn't easy to access.

"She also doesn't have the capacity to communicate easily from where she is and we haven't had direct contact with her. She has in the past contacted her family. We are in close contact with her family and keeping them informed."

The Minister for Foreign Affairs added there is a meeting scheduled between his department, the Department of Defence and the Department of Justice to co ordinate a Government response in relation to how to assist Ms Smith.

'I'm already in prison': Lisa Smith tells US news report she wants 'to go home'

-By Digital Desk staff

Lisa Smith

Lisa Smith, the Irish woman who went to Syria is 2015 and married an ISIS fighter, has told a US news report that she wants to come home to Ireland.ome.

CNN's Connect The World travelled to a camp where so-called "Isis brides" are being held.

Reporter Jomana Karadsheh Scott said she spoke to a woman who did not give her name "but she has been identified by Irish media as Muslim covert Lisa Smith".

The woman, who speaks in an Irish accent and appears to be former member of the Irish Defence Forces Smith, told CNN's Jomana Karadsheh Scott: "I think that people should just realise that all the people here are not terrorists."

The Dundalk widow is in the camp with her two-year-old child.

"I want to go home," she said.

When asked about the prospect of being prosecuted, she said: "I know they'd strip me of my passport. And I wouldn't travel and I'd be watched.....but...I'm already in prison (in the camp)."

Earlier this month, Defence Minister Paul Kehoe said Lisa Smith, 37, will be treated like any Irish citizen who finds themselves in trouble abroad.

The Taoiseach added that Ms Smith will be allowed to return to Ireland despite serious concerns over the safety of the wider public from ISIS supporters coming home.

Leo Varadkar said: "Going to Syria or going to live in what was called Islamic State is not in itself an offence or a crime. So we will need to carry out an investigation.

"I know the authorities there will want to interrogate her to see if she has been involved in any crimes there. But it’s very possible that she wasn’t a combatant, for example.

"We really need to get to the bottom of the facts here, to carry out a security assessment to see if the Syrian authorities want to carry out a prosecution or not.

"But ultimately this is an Irish citizen and we don’t believe that removing an Irish citizen’s citizenship from her or her family, rendering them stateless, would be either the right or compassionate thing to do."

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