Harris confirms travel ban on Irish woman detained in Dubai has been lifted

Taoiseach Simon Harris has confirmed a travel ban imposed by authorities in Dubai on Irish woman Tori Towey has been lifted.

Ms Towey had been banned from leaving the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after she was charged with attempted suicide and consuming alcohol in Dubai.

“I’ve just been informed that the travel ban has been lifted, that the embassy will take Tori to the airport as soon as she is ready to go and that the embassy, of course, will continue to follow up on the case, which is still active as of now,” Mr Harris told the Dáil on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Harris thanked the Irish embassy in the UAE for its work on the case, and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and Roscommon TD Claire Kerrane who had raised the matter in the Dáil on Tuesday.

Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, Ms McDonald criticised the “medieval, grotesque treatment of women” in the UAE.

“(Tori) does not belong to Dubai, she belongs at home in Ireland,” Ms McDonald said.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin paid tribute to the Irish Ambassador to the UAE, Alison Milton, for her role in the matter.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s News at One, Mr Martin said he had anticipated “good news” from Tuesday evening. However, he said there was a process to go through, and he could not comment on cases until it was completed.

He said he anticipated that Ms Towey and her mother Caroline, who had travelled to Dubai to support her daughter, would be returning to Ireland at the earliest opportunity now Ms Towey's passport had been returned.

The Tánaiste said Ms Milton and her team in the UAE had opened up “good channels of communication and engagement” with local authorities, which had facilitated the lifting of charges against Ms Towey.

That's the importance of very strong diplomats on the ground

“It has been very, very challenging and traumatic for Tori over the last while, but I think our team there has been in contact and has engaged with the family, and indeed with the authorities as well, and it's been a constructive engagement and they have responded with the issue being resolved,” Mr Martin said.

He added: “Different jurisdictions have different norms, and different approaches which sometimes don't approximate to ours, but we work with the authorities in such situations, and we work to try and resolve issues of this kind.

“That's the importance of very strong diplomats on the ground. People have good relationships and work those relationships to get the best outcomes for our citizens when difficulties and when challenges arise.”

“Our objective always is to make the best judgment calls and to work as effectively as we can to bring about resolutions for our citizens, positive outcomes for our citizens, and I'm glad, in this case with Tori, that we've managed to do that and to be of assistance to her.”

The update comes after the Government was commended by a human rights group for its swift action regarding Ms Towey's case.

The chief executive of Detained in Dubai, Radha Stirling, told Newstalk radio on Wednesday morning: “I’m super impressed by Ireland’s response, it was so swift.”

“When a government gets behind their citizens, when they go the extra mile, they are successful in getting citizens home.”

Ms Stirling outlined the background of the case, explaining Ms Towey had moved to Dubai last year to pursue an aviation career.

“She was working as cabin crew for Emirates Airlines, and she ended up marrying a South African man.

“Things went south very quickly, and he became physically abusive to her. She went to hospital and had severe injuries.

“After that, there was another assault, and she broke free, ran up to the bathroom, and she woke up with paramedics and police over her, and she was taken to the police station and actually charged with attempted suicide and consuming alcohol,” Ms Stirling said.

On the outpouring of support for Ms Towey, Ms Stirling added: “It's amazing to see people really standing behind her and wanting her home as soon as possible.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact Women’s Aid (24-hour freephone helpline at 1800-341 900, email helpline@womensaid.ie), Men’s Aid Ireland (confidential helpline at 01-554 3811, email hello@mensaid.ie), or the Samaritans (24-hour confidential freephone helpline at 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org) for support and information. Safe Ireland also offers a number of local services and helplines at i.

-Additional reporting by PA and Vivienne Clarke.