Irish woman accused of supporting ISIS wins appeal against ban from UK

Lisa Smith was served an exclusion notice in 2019 on the grounds of public security

Alleged ISIS member Lisa Smith leaving Dublin District Court after a previous hearing. Alamy
Alleged ISIS member Lisa Smith leaving Dublin District Court after a previous hearing. Alamy

An Irish woman accused of being a member of ISIS won her appeal against a ban on entering the United Kingdom.

Lisa Smith’s legal team argued she was entitled to the rights of a dual citizen as a consequence of her father’s birthplace, Belfast in Northern Ireland.

On Friday, a judge upheld her appeal.

Ms Smith, a Muslim convert from Dundalk near the border with Northern Ireland, was served with a Home Office-issued exclusion order in December 2019 on the grounds of public security.

She travelled to Syria in 2015 where she married British ISIS fighter Sajid Aslam who later died in fighting. She escaped the Ain Issa camp in Syria before being deported from Turkey.

The former Irish Defence Forces member was arrested at Dublin Airport after returning from Turkey in December 2019 with her two-year-old daughter.

Smith, 39, is charged with membership of the ISIS terrorist group and funding terrorism. She denies the charges.

She is currently on bail in Ireland ahead of a scheduled trial in the country’s Special Criminal Court next January.

Both sides in the case before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission accepted that the UK had a legal right to exclude non-British citizens from European Economic Area countries, including Ireland.

Ms Smith’s case against the Home Office hinged on whether she was entitled to the rights of a dual national as a consequence of her father’s birthplace.

The case involved argument on the nationality rights conferred under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and differences in how the law treats married and unmarried parents, given Ms Smith’s father was not married to her mother when she was born.

In a written judgment, the SIAC upheld Smith’s appeal against the exclusion order.

Her solicitor Darragh Mackin, from Phoenix Law, said: “Today’s ruling is hugely significant for the upholding of basic human rights principles, which include the right to be free from discrimination.

“The decision to exclude our client was discriminatory and contrary to the basic principles underpinning the Good Friday Agreement.

“As an Irish citizen who resides in a border town, it was always asserted that to restrict her from travelling across the border was unlawful and could not be stood over.

“We warmly welcome the court’s determination today, which will now reinstate our client’s basic rights to travel to the North of Ireland at her convenience.”

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Published: May 7, 2021 06:22 PM

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