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Irish PM pledges to bring home woman facing jail for ‘attempting suicide’ in UAE

Irish PM pledges to bring home woman facing jail for ‘attempting suicide’ in UAE

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Louise Thomas

Taoiseach Simon Harris has pledged to help an Irish woman who was banned from leaving the United Arab Emirates after allegedly attempting suicide.

Tori Towey, 28, an Emirates Airlines crew from Boyle in County Roscommon, is facing criminal charges in the Gulf country for trying to take her own life and alcohol abuse, according to reports.

Ms Towey allegedly attempted self harm after suffering severe bruising during a violent attack by her husband at her home in Dubai, Mary Lou McDonald, the leader of opposition, told parliament.

She faces a lengthy jail sentence if convicted, according to advocacy group Detained in Dubai, which is assisting her family.

Ms McDonald said Ms Towey was “under incredible stress”.

“Tori is a Roscommon woman and she wants to come home,” the Sinn Féin leader said on Tuesday, referring to the county in Ireland.

In response, the prime minister vowed to work with Ms McDonald “to intervene and see how we can support an Irish citizen in what sounds to be, based on what you tell me, the most appalling circumstances”.

“Thank you, deputy McDonald, for bringing the case of Tori to my attention,” Mr Harris said, according to Irish broadcaster RTE. “I am not directly appraised of the situation, but I’m very happy to be directly appraised of it now.”

Ms McDonald described Ms Towey as “the victim of the most gross domestic violence” and said she was under extreme stress after her passport was “destroyed”.

“There was a travel ban imposed on her and she had gone to the authorities seeking protection many times but to absolutely no avail,” Ms McDonald told parliament.

“But following one particularly severe beating in which her husband repeatedly tried to slam doors on her arms and break her limbs, she escaped upstairs and she attempted to take her own life. Unfortunately Tori now faces charges in Dubai of attempted suicide and the abuse of alcohol. The system over there, rather than protecting this woman who is an Irish citizen, chose instead to detain her to charge her,” Ms McDonald said.

The foreign ministry told Sky News it was “aware of the case and is providing consular assistance” but declined to elaborate.

Claire Kerrane, MP from Roscommon, said Ms Towy was “living in a nightmare” and must be allowed to return home urgently. “Tori is a survivor of serious domestic abuse. She needs to be brought home.”

Ms Towey moved to Dubai in April 2023 and has been staying in a rented property with her mother Caroline.

“We are calling on Dubai authorities to urgently drop the charges against Tori, remove the travel ban and let her fly home to Ireland with her mother,” said Radha Stirling, the chief executive of Detained In Dubai.

“Strangely, the UAE has gone to great public relations efforts to promote alcohol as legal in the country. In reality, people are still regularly charged with alcohol consumption and possession.

“Tori’s experience is nothing short of tragic and quite frankly, she is lucky to be alive,” she said.

The UAE in 2020 was widely reported to have decriminalised both alcohol consumption and attempted suicide as it introduced a slew of reforms to modernize the Gulf state.

Ms Towey’s case will be heard in court on 18 July.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call or text 988, or visit 988lifeline.org to access online chat from the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. This is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.


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