Islamic State suspect: Her legal case for gaining access to Northern Ireland

A woman suspected of being a member of Islamic State has the right to travel from her native Ireland into the UK, an immigration panel has ruled – and here the News Letter sets out how.

Saturday, 8th May 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Saturday, 8th May 2021, 7:06 am
Alleged IS member Lisa Smith arrives at the Central Criminal Court, Dublin, for a court hearing. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday January 8, 2020. See PA story IRISH IS. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Lisa Smith, 39, was a former member of the Republic of Ireland’s defence forces, who converted to Islam and later travelled to Syria, where she had a daughter.

She had been living in a Syrian refugee camp – where the BBC found and interviewed her in summer 2019 – and when she returned to Ireland at the end of that year, she was immediately arrested.

She is currently on bail while she awaits trial in Dublin’s no-jury Special Criminal Court next year, on charges of being a member of an unlawful organisation and terrorist financing (which she denies).

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The lengthy legal judgement in her favour – issued on Friday by a three-person panel of the UK’s Special Immigration Appeals Commission – says she is alleged to be “aligned with ISIL/Daesh”.

In late 2019 the UK authorities issued an “exclusion order” barring her from UK territory “on the grounds of public security”.

It was this exclusion order which Smith was appealing against in her case.

Smith was born in Ireland and is not a UK citizen; the same applies to her mother.

But her father was born in Belfast and is a UK citizen.

The UK cannot bar people who have dual Irish–UK nationality, and this is what lay at the heart of her case.

Smith argued that she too is “entitled to be treated” as a dual nationality citizen.

Her argument was based on “Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, read in conjunction with Article 8”.

Article 8 says: “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life.”

Meanwhile Article 14 says: “The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.”

Smith’s parents were not married at the time of her birth, the court was told: “Had her parents been married at the time of her birth, British citizenship would have ensued automatically.

“The fact that they were not is a happenstance for which the appellant [Smith] is not responsible and generates the possibility of discrimination and a violation of Article 14.

“It is therefore submitted that the appellant should be treated as if her parents were married, with the inexorable consequence that she should be deemed a British citizen.”

Ultimately, after considering all the factors, the commission decided to allow her appeal.

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