Irish PM to intervene in case of woman held in Dubai

By Matt FoxBBC News NI

Detained in Dubai Tori ToweyDetained in Dubai

Irish woman Tori Towey is in “the most appalling circumstances” in the United Arab Emirates, the Dáil heard

Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Simon Harris has said he is ready to “intervene” in the case of an Irish woman who is facing criminal charges in the United Arab Emirates in what he called “the most appalling circumstances”.

Mr Harris was responding to a question from Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald in the Dáil (Irish lower house of parliament) on Tuesday, according to Irish broadcaster RTÉ.

Ms McDonald told TDs (Irish MPs) Tori Towey from County Roscommon was facing charges “of attempted suicide and the abuse of alcohol”.

The BBC has approached the UAE government for comment on the case.

Mr Harris said that he was not aware of the 28-year-old’s case, but noted that it had been raised with Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin by Sinn Féin.

“Thank you, Deputy McDonald, for bringing the case of Tori to my attention,” the taoiseach said.

“I’m not directly appraised of the situation, but I’m very happy to be directly appraised of it now.”

Mr Harris pledged to work with Ms McDonald “to intervene and see how we can support an Irish citizen in what sounds to be, based on what you tell me, the most appalling circumstances”.

‘Most gross domestic violence’

It is understood that Ms Towey has been working as an air hostess and is based in Dubai.

Addressing the Dáil, Ms McDonald said she had spoken with Ms Towey on Tuesday.

She said Ms Towey’s mother has travelled to Dubai to be with her and that she “wants to come home”.

“She has been the victim of the most gross domestic violence,” Ms McDonald said.

“Her passport has been destroyed. There was a travel ban imposed on her.”

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The Irish government should make it “absolutely plain to the authorities of Dubai that no woman should be treated in this way”, Ms McDonald told the Dáil, and that “an Irish citizen, an Irish woman, will not be treated in this way”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it is aware of the case and is providing consular assistance.

‘Government is rightly behind us’

Ms Towey is receiving assistance from human rights advocate and lawyer Radha Stirling, who runs the Detained in Dubai group.

“Tori is facing court next week. She has been charged with consumption of alcohol and also attempting suicide, both of which have been historically illegal in the country,” Ms Stirling told BBC News NI.

She explained that Ms Towey is currently on a travel ban and cannot leave the United Arab Emirates.

“The Irish government is rightly behind us in having the UAE police drop the case against her.”

Reuters Simon HarrisReuters

Taoiseach Simon Harris pledged to intervene on behalf of Tori Towey

Ms Stirling said Ms Towey was unable to afford a lawyer, “so it’s even more difficult and confusing for her”.

Even if found innocent, the legal process could take “months and months”, she explained, but the family are feeling optimistic that international pressure will benefit their case.

“If the Irish government backs her case and does everything that they can diplomatically… it’s highly likely that she will be home in Ireland next week,” she added.

“With all of the support [Tori and her mother] are just over the moon and very, very positive that things will go well next week.”

  • If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this story you can visit BBC Action Line.
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