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19 Jul 2024 5:02
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  •   Home > News > International

    Irish prime minister pledges to intervene after woman charged with trying to take her own life in UAE

    The Irish prime minister says he will intervene to help a 28-year-old flight attendant detained in Dubai under "the most appalling of circumstances".

    Ireland's leader has pledged to intervene after a 28-year-old Irish woman was detained in the United Arab Emirates on charges of using alcohol and trying to take her own life. 

    Mary Lou McDonald, leader of the Irish opposition party Sinn Féin, raised the case of Tori Towey in the Irish parliament on Tuesday.

    The flight attendant, who has been living in Dubai since April 2023, was a "victim of the most gross domestic violence", according to Ms McDonald, with her passport destroyed and the UAE government imposing a travel ban preventing her from returning to Ireland. 

    "She went to the authorities seeking protection many times but to no avail," Ms McDonald told the parliament, describing a series of domestic violence incidents that left Ms Towey severely injured and suicidal. 

    "The system over there, rather than protecting this woman, who is an Irish citizen, chose instead to detain her and charge her. She is now under the most incredible stress."

    Ms McDonald said Ms Towey had been charged with attempted suicide and using alcohol in Dubai. Consuming alcohol is still largely illegal outside of licensed premises such as hotels. 

    Simon Harris, the Taoiseach (prime minister), called the situation "the most appalling of circumstances" and said he would work with Ms McDonald to intervene and support Ms Towey.

    'No woman should be treated in this way'

    Ms Towey's mother has travelled to Dubai to be with her daughter, who will appear in court on July 18, according to Radha Stirling, the head of advocacy group Detained in Dubai. 

    "Without diplomatic intervention from the Irish government, Tori faces months of hearings which could end with her lengthy and unfair detention," Ms Stirling said. 

    Ms McDonald said Ms Towey, who comes from Roscommon in Ireland's north-west, wanted to come home. 

    Ms McDonald requested that the UAE ambassador be called to give an explanation for Ms Towey's detention, and that it be "made plain to the authorities in Dubai that no woman should be treated in this way and that an Irish citizen, an Irish woman, will not be treated in this way".

    Claire Kerrane, the member for Roscommon and Galway in the Irish parliament, wrote on Facebook to support Ms McDonald's speech and said she had been in direct contact with Ms Towey as well as the Irish foreign minister. 

    "I have since spoken to the Taoiseach directly and have been assured of action," she wrote. 

    © 2024 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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