HomeTravelDubai drops charges against Irish woman as travel ban lifted

Dubai drops charges against Irish woman as travel ban lifted

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A travel ban that had prevented Irish citizen Tori Towey from leaving Dubai has been lifted, the Taoiseach has told the Dáil. Video: Oireachtas TV

The Dubai Public Prosecution service has dropped charges of attempted suicide against Co Roscommon woman Tori Towey and the travel ban against her has been lifted.

Ms Towey (28), who moved to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) city last year, had been prevented from leaving the country as a result of the charges.

On Tuesday, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald told the Dáil that Ms Towey was the victim of domestic violence and was subjected to a travel ban over allegations she illegally consumed alcohol and attempted suicide. Attempted suicide is a crime in the Arab state, carrying a sentence of up to six months.

A statement from the Dubai Government to The Irish Times said it had “closed the case involving Irish national Tori Towey after she and her husband, a South African national, were involved in a case featuring mutual charges of assault, dating back to May 2024. The couple reached a reconciliation and withdrew the complaints filed against each other.

“Dubai Public Prosecution has also dropped the charges of attempted suicide against her considering the circumstances of the case and to enable her to return to normal life,” the statement said.

Taoiseach Simon Harris earlier told the Dáil the travel ban on Ms Towey had been lifted.

“The Embassy will take Tori to the airport as soon as she is ready to go,” Mr Harris told TDs on Wednesday. “And the Embassy will of course continue to follow up the case which is still active as of now.

“I just wanted to inform the House of that and to thank our Embassy,” he said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs was providing consular assistance to Ms Towey, who works for Emirates Airlines and whose case was first highlighted by campaign group Dubai Detained.

On Wednesday, Mr Harris told Ms McDonald that Ireland’s Ambassador to the UAE, Alison Milton, “has been in very frequent and intense contact with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs” on Ms Towey’s situation.

“I don’t want to say too much more on the record in this House because I don’t want to say anything that cuts across a very intense effort that is under way,” he said.

The Taoiseach stressed that Ms Towey “doesn’t need to come home after a court case because she is not a criminal. She’s a victim of gender-based violence, and we expect her to be able to return to Ireland as an Irish citizen without delay”.

“I think it’s so important. Does everybody around the world including Dubai, UAE, know that we’re speaking with one voice in this House in relation to this situation?

“An Irish woman, an Irish citizen, has been a victim of a horrific male violence, has been the victim of the most brutal, horrific attack one can imagine.”

Tánaiste Micheál Martin has paid tribute to Ms Milton for her role in the lifting of the travel ban against Ms Towey.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s News at One, Mr Martin said

he anticipated Ms Towey and her mother, Caroline, would be returning to Ireland at the earliest opportunity now that her passport had been returned.

“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.”

Commenting earlier on the Government’s response, Detained in Dubai chief executive Radha Stirling said: “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,” she said on Newstalk Breakfast.

“When it comes to a case like this, it’s all about diplomacy. Without the support of the Irish Government, she would be likely to face prison and charges and deportation,” she said.

“She is exhausted and she’s finding it very overwhelming. But at the same time, we’re really, really warmed by all of the support that she’s been getting. I don’t think she expected all of that. I don’t think she expected the Irish Government to motivate themselves as quickly. And this is the fastest I’ve ever seen this happen from a Government. So I’m super impressed by Ireland’s response.”

Also earlier today, Ann Flynn, aunt of Ms Towey, said the family was hoping that diplomatic efforts will lead to charges being dropped and her return to Ireland. “We are just all very, very anxious,” she told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

“We keep hoping that we’ll get word that they’re [Ms Towey and her mother, Caroline] on a plane. On the way home. I don’t know. Will this court case go ahead? Or if it goes, what will happen? You know, we’re just very hopeful. And it’s really terrible that this has happened to a young woman, you know, that was full of life and full of adventure. And she loved travelling. And, you know, she’s a beautiful young woman.

“We’re hoping that just something will happen, that it won’t go to court. It’s hard to believe that this young woman has been charged with trying to commit suicide. And, you know, it’s very, very hard to believe it.”

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