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Irish PM promises to bring home woman facing jail for attempted suicide in UAE

Prime Minister Simon Harris has promised to help an Irish woman who has been banned from leaving the United Arab Emirates after she allegedly tried to commit suicide.

Emirates Airlines crew member Tori Towey, 28, from Boyle, Co Roscommon, has appeared in court in the Gulf region where she faces criminal charges of attempted suicide and alcohol abuse, according to reports.

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

She faces a long prison sentence if convicted, according to human rights group Detained in Dubai, which is helping 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 promised to work with Ms McDonald “to intervene and see how we can support the Irish citizen in what seems to me to be a most dire situation.”

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

Ms McDonald described Ms Towey as a “victim of the most severe domestic violence” and added that she was in a state of extreme distress after her passport was “destroyed”.

“She has been placed under a travel ban and has made repeated appeals to the authorities for protection, but to no avail,” Ms McDonald told parliament.

“But after one particularly severe beating, during which her husband repeatedly tried to slam doors into her hands and break her limbs, she fled upstairs and attempted to take her own life. Sadly, Tori now faces charges in Dubai for attempted suicide and alcohol abuse. The system there, instead of protecting this woman, who is an Irish citizen, chose to detain her in order to prosecute her,” Ms McDonald said.

The Foreign Office told Sky News it was “aware of the matter and providing consular assistance” but declined to provide details.

Claire Kerrane, MP for Roscommon, said Ms Towy was “living in a nightmare” and should be allowed to return home as a matter of urgency. “Tori is a victim of serious domestic violence. She needs to be taken home.”

Ms Towey moved to Dubai in April 2023 and lives in a rented apartment with her mother Caroline.

“We call on the Dubai authorities to urgently drop the charges against Tori, lift the travel ban and allow her to return to Ireland with her mother,” said Radha Stirling, Chief Executive of Detained In Dubai.

“Strangely, the UAE has made a huge public relations effort to promote alcohol as legal in the country. In reality, people are still regularly charged with consuming and possessing alcohol.

“Tori’s experience is just tragic and honestly, she’s lucky to be alive,” she said.

In 2020, the UAE widely reportedly decriminalised alcohol consumption and attempted suicide, while introducing a series of reforms aimed at modernising the Gulf state.

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

If you are feeling anxious or struggling to cope, you can speak to Samaritans in confidence on 116 123 (UK & Ireland), email [email protected] or visit the Samaritans website for details of your nearest branch. If you live in the USA and you or someone you know needs immediate mental health help, call or text 988 or visit 988lifeline.org to access the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline online chat. This is a free, confidential crisis helpline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you live in another country, you can visit www.befrienders.org to find a helpline in your area.