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'Ireland would like to help': Irish government open to asylum application from Asia Bibi

The justice minister and Tánaiste said Ireland would like to help.

Image: AP/PA Images

IRELAND IS LIKELY to respond favourably to an asylum application from Asia Bibi, according to two ministers. 

Asia Bibi, who spent eight years on death row in Pakistan for blasphemy, was freed from jail this month after a court overturned her conviction and ordered her release.

It is reported that Bibi has been kept in a secret location in the Pakistani capital Islamabad for security reasons. Hard-line extremists, who accuse the mother-of-five of insulting Islam’s prophet Muhammad, want her to be publicly hanged.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan was asked at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis last night if Ireland would consider offering asylum to Bibi.

“Should an application be received, I would be confident that it would receive favourable consideration,” Flanagan said.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said he had discussed the issue with the justice minister.

“Ireland would like to help,” he said, adding that it would have to be done in such a way that it doesn’t put people in danger.

“We would certainly like to be of assistance if we could be and so if there is a request we would respond favourably and appropriately to ensure the safety of someone who is clearly in danger in their own country,” he said. 

He said the case was a “shocking reminder” of how some women are treated in many parts of the world.

“It is shocking but it is reality,” he said. 

A number of other countries such as the UK and Canada have been urged to offer asylum to Bibi, with the UK Government facing calls for the suspension of aid payments to Pakistan over the case.

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