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

An Irish woman is facing criminal charges – including attempted suicide and consuming alcohol – in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and has had her passport destroyed.

It is understood 28-year-old Tori Towey has been working as a flight attendant and is based in Dubai – the largest city in the UAE.

A lawyer and human rights advocate who is assisting her said the 28-year-old was overwhelmed and exhausted but was hopeful of being able to leave Dubai soon.

Radha Stirling, who runs the Detained in Dubai group, said she spoke to Ms Towey on Wednesday mornng and that “things seem to be moving”.

“The Irish government is certainly stepping up in record time, we usually don’t see them come together that fast,” she said.

The lawyer also said the victims’ support division of the Dubai police had now contacted Ms Towey.

“I’m expecting with that diplomatic push we might be able to get her home even before the court date next week, but of course we have to plan that it could go very badly and she could end up with a prison sentence,” she told BBC News NI.

Ms Stirling previously said Ms Towey had been charged with consumption of alcohol and attempting suicide, both of which she said had historically been illegal in the UAE.

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

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

‘Most gross domestic violence’

Addressing the Dáil (Irish lower house of parliament) on Tuesday, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said she had spoken to Ms Towey.

She said Ms Towey’s mother had 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.”

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 was aware of the case and was providing consular assistance.

Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Simon Harris thanked Ms McDonald for raising the case and said he was ready to intervene.

On Wednesday he told Irish broadcaster RTÉ he had spoken to Ms Towey and her mother and said the “horrific situation” was “utterly unacceptable”.

Mr Harris said it was his “absolute priority” to get her “back home to Roscommon”.

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”.

She said even if Ms Towey was found not guilty, the legal process could take “months and months” but the family were feeling optimistic that international pressure would help.

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

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