herald

Saturday 24 August 2019

Talks at 'advanced stage' to bring Irish IS bride home

Lisa Smith wants to return
Lisa Smith wants to return

Negotiations are at an advanced stage over the proposed repatriation of IS bride and former Defence Forces recruit Lisa Smith (37) to Ireland.

The Government has been engaged in painstaking talks with charities, aid agencies and several foreign governments for the past two months over how to get the Louth native and her child from northern Syria to a country from where she can be flown back to Ireland.

Complex

However, a senior Government source dismissed suggestions the return of the former Air Corps recruit was imminent.

"It is a very complex process. It may well yet take some time to resolve," he said.

The source also dismissed rumours Ms Smith was already on her way back to Ireland.

The State has been working with a number of other European countries that have nationals in Syria demanding to be repatriated.

IS brides from other European countries, including the UK, France, Denmark and Sweden, are demanding repatriation, and Ireland has been using these diplomatic contacts to secure a channel to get Ms Smith home.

The Kurds have demanded, backed by their US allies, that European countries accept responsibility for handling IS sympathisers from their jurisdictions.

Kurdish fighters, who operate the camps where IS brides, sympathisers and fighters are now being held in northern Syria, warned they want to ease pressure on swelling camp numbers by shipping home European detainees in groups rather than as individuals.

The Kurds fear that individual repatriations could take months or even years to negotiate - with their militias effectively being left to look after the former IS women and their children.

It had been hoped that the transfer of small groups of IS sympathisers to a third country such as Jordan or Turkey for onward repatriation would prove much quicker.

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