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Tusla involved in welfare plans for Lisa Smith's child, Taoiseach says

The former Defence Forces member who was married to an Islamic State fighter is due back in Ireland

Lisa Smith
Lisa Smith
Image: Norma Costello
TUSLA IS INVOLVED in the welfare plans being put in place for Lisa Smith’s two-year-old child ahead of their return to Ireland, the Taoiseach said today.

Smith is expected to return to Ireland by the end of this week, it is understood.

The former Defence Forces member who was married to an Islamic State (IS) fighter is expected to be repatriated from Turkey this week.

Speaking to reporters at a Garda graduation ceremony in Templemore, Leo Varadkar said: 

“I am satisfied that the plans are in place both involving the gardaí, the defence forces and also Tusla.”

Describing it as a “tricky situation”, the Taoiseach said the Child and Family Agency are aware that Smith’s relatives have been in contact. 

“Ultimately the child is an Irish citizen and deserves to be protected in my view,” said Varadkar.

“Ultimately, we seek to protect our citizens. Obviously, as regards to Lisa Smith, that is a slightly different situation, but she is our citizen and it wouldn’t be fair to expect the Turkish authorities to hold her indefinitely, so as an Irish citizen she is free to return home to Ireland, but if she does return home the gardaí are going to want to talk to her,” he said. 

He added:

“We will need to ensure the child’s welfare is protected, of course there are relatives who are in contact so Tusla are aware that that situation may arise.”

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said a garda investigation into Smith’s activities while with the terrorist group in Syria is continuing.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the gardai have specific responsibilities in regards to Smith, but he would not comment further.

Asked whether he is satisfied with the plans put in place by the gardai, Harris said:

“Yes I am and I would have presented those plans so I am content with what we are putting forward.

“I think we will have a suitable and proportionate response.”

Asked about the possibility of a de-radicalisation programme for people coming to Ireland from conflict zones, Harris said the country is not facing the same problems as other European nations.

“We can look at this in a bespoke manner as we are doing,” he added.

“People should be reassured that constantly we’re addressing threats to the State and part of that is returning individuals and how we manage those.

“A specific programme, as we may see in some of our neighbouring European states, we just don’t have the same demands upon us, but we are managing them in a bespoke fashion proportionate to what we think the threat is and proportionate to what we think is appropriate in circumstances.

“This is a matter for ourselves in terms of our security function and it would be wrong for me to go into all of that, but people should be reassured that we are constantly on our guard in terms of the security the State and that includes those returning from foreign states.”

Speaking to TheJournal.ie yesterday, Paul Kehoe, the Minister with Responsibility for Defence said the case of Lisa Smith is at a “very, very sensitive time”.

With reporting by Cate McCurry Press Association

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