Tag Archives: Mary Robinson

Last night.

Former President Mary Robinson urges the Irish Women Lawyers Association to manifest climate justice.

Good times.

Monday: Latifa, Haya And Rescuing Mary

From top: the Newspaper panel on yesterday’s Marian Finucane Show yesterday, including Fergus Finlay (second left); from left: Princess Haya, Sheikha Latifa , Mary Robinson; CEO of Detained in Dubai Radha Stirling and RTE’s Marian Finucane

Yesterday on RTÉ Radio One’s Marian Finucane Show

The newspaper panel was joined by CEO of Detained in Dubai Radha Stirling.

The panel was made up of Mary Whelan, Former Ambassador to Austria and Netherlands; Ken Murphy, Director General of the Law Society; Ciaran Hancock, Business Editor at The Irish Times; Fergus Finlay, former CEO of Barnados; and Amii McKeever, Editor of Irish Country Living.

Ms Stirling, via phone, discussed the reported recent fleeing of UAE’s Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, with her children, from her husband and prime minister of the UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.

Princess Haya’s move follows the family of Princess Haya’s stepdaughter Sheikha Latifa releasing pictures on Christmas Eve of Sheikha Latifa with Ireland’s former president Mary Robinson – claiming the photographs were evidence that Sheikha Latifa was not being held against her will.

Up until that point, it was known that Sheikha Latifa was seized from a yacht off the coast of India the previous March and had not been seen from since.

Latfia’s sister Shamsa Bint Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum was allegedly abducted from a street in Cambridge, England in 2000, by people associated with her father and brought back to Dubai.

During Sheikha Latifa’s bid to escape last year, she created a video in which she claimed Shamsa was a prisoner and had been tortured and mistreated.

Now that Princess Haya has fled, it has raised questions, for some, of Mrs Robinson’s move to visit Sheikha Latifa and pose for pictures with her before reporting that Sheikha Latifa was a “troubled” woman.

The discussion on Marian came ahead of Mrs Robinson’s scheduled appearance at an Irish Women Lawyers’ Association event on climate justice this Wednesday at Blackhall Place.

Ms Stirling explained that she had been on the phone to Latifa when she was seized from a US-flagged yacht off India. She said:

“She telephone me during the attack and said that she had heard gun shots outside, that she was frightened and asked me to please help. Then all communications with all people on board the yacht were terminated.

“And I didn’t hear from them until their later release.

“Unfortunately we haven’t heard from Latifa since then, except in the visit of Mary Robinson, attended in December at the request of Princess Haya.

“Obviously that was also widely publicised and she was criticised for having circumvented normal United Nations protocols because the UAE had not replied to UN requests to visit Latifa.

“And, instead, Princess Haya then asked Mary Robinson to come instead and she said that she was in the safe and loving care of her family.

“Now the world didn’t really believe that and now that we’re seeing Princess Haya coming out and saying that she was seeking asylum, that she’s fearful for her life and now she’s being taken to court by Sheikh Mohammed in the UK for the return of her children to Dubai.

“So she will obviously, during that court case, have to provide testimony as to the ill-treatment of Latifa if she’s to prevent the children from being sent back to Dubai.”

Following Ms Stirling’s comments, Ms Finucane played a clip of a previous interview Ms Finucane carried out with Princess Haya last January – in which she explained the reasoning behind her invitation to Mrs Robinson.

In the same interview, she said Latifa was a “vulnerable” woman and she was “receiving the love and protection of all of us”.

Ms Finucane put to Ms Stirling that Princess’s Haya had a “ring of sincerity”.

Ms Stirling responded:

“I would think so but given that she is in the position of being required, probably, to give that sort of testimony and now, with her subsequent actions and reports in the media saying that, following that interview, she investigated further into the case of Latifa and discovered things that she obviously didn’t like.

“She perhaps discovered the abuse, discovered that she was being imprisoned and you have to remember that Princess Haya apparently hadn’t seen Latifa since that attack, except for that single day [with Mrs Robinson] and didn’t see her after that one visitation.

Ms Finucane told Ms Stirling that Mrs Robinson has a “very distinguished record as a lawyer and a human rights lawyer”. She then put it to Ms Stirling: “But you’re very cross with her about this?”

Ms Stirling said:

“Well given that it circumvented usual UN protocols where they would send a team of people who are trained to see whether Latifa was under duress during that meeting and Mary had a meeting with Latifa for several hours, or two or three hours perhaps, and then came out with a report saying she’s absolutely fine.

“And, clearly, from Latifa’s testimony, she’s never been fine in the custody of her family.”

Asked for his opinion on the matter, Fergus Finlay, who worked with Mrs Robinson during her presidential campaign, said, on the face of it, her intervention seems “odd” given she’s not a medical expert.

But he said anyone who has worked with her wouldn’t question her integrity “for a second”.

He said:

“I don’t understand this story. It seems incredibly complex and arcane.

“And, you know, all sorts of peculiar elements – divorce and acrimony and so on are tied up in it aswell. And obviously huge amounts of money at play.

“And it may be that Mary Robinson made an error of judgement in being dragged into the middle of it. I’d be amazed if anyone would question her good faith in the matter though.”

Mr Finlay later added:

“I’m really struggling to figure out how this story fits in and it may be my own stupidity, it feels very much like I’m being asked to comment on the third series of Dallas – never having watched the first two series. I mean it’s and incredibly complicated story of divorce and money and bitterness and so on…

“But I…is it more than that? Is it really more than that in this particular case?”

Later on during the discussion, Ms Stirling said:

“The issue is, in having done that [Mary Robinson visiting Latifa], Latifa’s case could have potentially been closed as far as the investigation is concerned. And the UAE, under such public scrutiny, with such disbelief over Mary Robinson’s report, should then cooperate with the further requests that the UN has made of them for visitations with Latifa.

“And they simply haven’t responded – not even to a request for proof of life.”

Ms Finucane asked Ms Stirling, given there are reports of Princess Haya seeking protection, not trusting the police, and fearing for her life, if there is the possibility that the story is “getting into the realms of the unbelievable”.

Ms Stirling disagreed.

She said:

“No I really don’t think we are. What we’re seeing is an increase in belligerent behaviour, coming from the Gulf Region. We’re seeing Saudi able to kill Khashoggi in an embassy in Turkey, we’re seeing an attack on an international yacht, we’re seeing, previously, his two children have been seized from outside the UAE jurisdiction.

“And I would say that Princess Haya is extremely, and also, obviously, his children…he has a history of unlawfully, extrajudicially returning his children back to the UAE. So I can understand why they would be on complete lockdown with extreme security.”

Ken Murphy, of the Law Society, referred to reports in yesterday’s papers, before saying”

“All I can say is, having known every little about this story until we began to…it is becoming more and more fascinating.”

Listen back in full here

Previously:  Oh Mary

All That You Can’t Leave Behind

In Denial

This morning.

School of Business, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2

Former Irish President Mary Robinson addresses The Biennial Delegate Conference of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) on climate change denial….

Meanwhile

Princess Haya: Dubai ruler’s wife in UK ‘in fear of her life’ (BBC)


Meanwhile.
..

Dubai’s Princess Haya ‘is still my friend’, says Mary Robinson (Irish Times)

Yesterday: All That You Can’t Leave Behind

From top: Princess Haya; Mary Robinson with Princess Latifa; Mrs Robinson at the launch of the Green Finance Summit in Guildhall, London yesterday

At the weekend, it emerged that the UAE’s Princess Haya bint al-Hussein had left her husband and prime minister of the UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.

It was initially reported that she had sought political asylum in Germany  but it’s now being reported that she’s in London.

Princess Haya’s move follows the family of Princess Haya’s stepdaughter Sheikha Latifa releasing pictures on Christmas Eve of Sheikha Latifa with Ireland’s former president Mary Robinson – claiming the photographs were evidence that Sheikha Latifa was not being held against her will.

Up until that point, it was known that Sheikha Latifa was seized from a yacht off the coast of India the previous March and had not been seen from since.

In a video made before she attempted to flee the UAE, Sheikha Latifa said she spent seven years trying to flee a gilded prison and feared torture if captured.

Princess Haya gave an interview to Marian Finucane on RTÉ Radio One in January – and she outlined that she invited Ms Robinson to the UAE to help in a “private family matter”.

It’s not yet known if Princess Haya will now speak out about the living conditions she, and Sheikha Latifa, faced in the UAE.

During her interview with Ms Finucane, Princess Haya was asked why she invited Ms Robinson to Dubai.

Princess Haya said:

“As you know, when you’re faced with a situation in life, that’s so profound and it’s deeply attached to your values, your family and situations that are complex and difficult – I’ve always learned in life to ask for counsel, to look to those who, you know, are wiser, and  more experienced.

“But, above all, those who tell you the truth, without mincing words, without colouring them. And a person who’s a true friend who will look at a situation and tell you the right thing, not what you want to hear.

“My father always said that Mary was a person who really held precious what he believed and what he taught me to live by which is that, you know, the real victories in life are those that protect you in life….”

Princess Haya told Ms Finucane numerous times that it was a “deeply private family matter” and she didn’t wish to go into details of it “for the protection of Latifa herself and to ensure that she’s not used by anyone else”.

She continued:

“She’s [Latifa] a vulnerable young woman and that’s that’s important to me and what’s important to us, as a family, is to ensure that she’s all right and that’s she’s receiving the love and protection of all of us.”

She added:

“Being asked for proof of life and being asked to prove that someone that we love, that I love,  is simply…it’s absurd. We’ve done our utmost to help and protect and support her through this period and we continue to do so.

“It’s unimaginable that this thing has gone so far from the truth.

“It’s been unbelievable, devastating and I really wanted to get the right advice from Mary on how to move forward and I wanted her to give me that counsel.

“I did it as myself, there was no official party, there was no commission, there was no terms of reference.

“I made the call on a Tuesday and explained to her the difficulties that I saw and the heartbreak that I see around me and asked her to come and to give me advice because that’s the thing that I really value from a person with her integrity, with her track record that is unblemished, and to know that I’d get, absolutely, the truth there.

“She’s not a person, you know, who’s going go mince words, she’s her own woman, she always has been and that’s what mattered and that’s what mattered to me and it matters now.”

Meanwhile…

Yesterday, Trinity College Dublin announced that it will be opening a new Centre for Middle Eastern Studies funded by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, an educational charity established by the UAE Crown Prince.

The University Times previously reported that the centre would be funded by a €5.5 million donation from the charity.

In a press statement yesterday, Provost Patrick Prendergast referred to the centre as  a “generous gift from the Al Maktoum Foundation”.

Previously: Oh Mary

Pics: LDNMayor Environment and Margaret-Ann Splawn

Barbara writes:

Anyone know what has happened to Princess Latifa since Mary Robinson’s ‘mercy mission’? Are we meant to pretend all that didn’t happen?

You would think the Law Society and in particular the Irish Women Lawyers’ Association might be concerned but, alas, no.

Anyone?

Previously: Oh Mary

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, a daughter of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, meets Mary Robinson in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on December 15, 2018.

Anything good in The New York Times?

Depends…

Via The New York Times:

On Christmas Eve, Dubai released the first public photos of Sheikha Latifa since her disappearance. They showed her sitting with Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who confirmed that she had met the sheikha at her family’s request.

Ms. Robinson said Sheikha Latifa was safe with her family, but said she was receiving psychiatric care, calling her a “troubled young woman” with a “serious medical condition.”

“This is a family matter now,” Ms. Robinson said.

The sheikha’s advocates were taken aback that a respected human rights crusader had seemingly embraced Dubai’s official line. They disputed that she had a psychiatric condition, apart from any she might have developed because of imprisonment or drugging.

“I know 100 percent for sure that she doesn’t need mental care,” Ms. Martinengo said. “Maybe now, after all these treatments, but not before. How can you think that a person who’s been in prison for nine months wouldn’t seem troubled?”

Friends also found Sheikha Latifa’s appearance in the photos — slightly dazed, her eyes missing the camera — concerning.

With negative attention thickening around her, Ms. Robinson issued a statement saying that she had made her assessment “in good faith and to the best of my ability,” adding that the sheikha’s “vulnerability was apparent.”

By mid-January, a lawyer who had been working with activists left the sheikha’s case without explanation. Several friends still in Dubai said they were too frightened to speak, while Mr. Jaubert abruptly stopped responding to requests to be interviewed for this article.

Sheikha Latifa had little doubt about what would happen to her.

“If you are watching this video, it’s not such a good thing,” she said in her video. “Either I’m dead, or I’m in a very, very, very bad situation.”

A Princess Vanishes. A Video Offers Alarming Clues (New York Times)

Previously: Oh, Mary

Pic: United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation via AP

Thanks Eoin

Ah Hoya here.

This afternoon.

Mary Robinson, fresh from her Dubai rescue mission, addresses The ‘Global Ireland 2025: Making it Happen’ conference.

Dublin Castle, Dublin 2.

The climate really has changed, amirite?

Robinson ‘had nothing to do’ with press ban on her speech (Independent.ie)

On Christmas Eve, the family of an Emirati princess released pictures to rebut ‘false’ abduction allegations.

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, 33, daughter of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, was seized from a yacht off the coast of India in March and had not been seen from since.

In the pictures, Latifa appears alongside former Irish President Mary Robinsonn, who the UAE foreign ministry said was invited by her family to meet Latifa.

In a video  made before her escape (above), Princess Latifa said she spent seven years trying to flee a gilded prison and feared torture if captured.

Via The Guardian:

The dilemma was that Latifa is vulnerable, she’s troubled. She made a video that she now regrets and she planned an escape, or was part of a plan of escape,” said Robinson, who told how she had lunch with Latifa, Hayat and others and was able to “assess the situation”.

Robinson said the princess was receiving psychiatric care, adding: “She’s a very likeable young woman but clearly troubled, clearly needs the medical care that she’s receiving.” She said the family “did not want her to endure any more publicity”

Robinson faced intensive criticism on Thursday from rights campaigners, with one alleging she had been “used as a willing pawn in the PR battle between the UAE ruling family and the rest of the world”.

There was also a sceptical reaction from Human Rights Watch (HRW), which was name-checked during a BBC interview on Thursday with Robinson, who said she had been asked by Princess Hayat, one of the Sheikh’s wives and someone she had known for a long time, to come to Dubai to help with a “family dilemma”.

“Mary Robinson said in the BBC interview that Princess Latifa is ‘a troubled young woman’, though I would be troubled too if I had tried to escape a gilded prison and was kidnapped back into it,” said Roth.

Radha Stirling, the chief executive of the Detained in Dubai group, said listeners to the interview with Robinson would have been “astonished at the extent to which Ms Robinson appeared to be reciting almost verbatim from Dubai’s script”.

Meanwhile, via the BBC:

Another rights group, Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, also said it was concerned by Mrs Robinson’s comments.

“Mrs Robinson appears to have spent a couple of hours with Sheikha Latifa, and despite having no formal medical or psychiatric training, has somehow diagnosed her condition and concluded that she is receiving appropriate treatment. It is unclear on what basis Mrs Robinson considers herself qualified to do so,” it said in a statement.

Mary Robinson labelled a ‘willing pawn’ over visit with UAE princess (The Guardian)

Sheikha Latifa: Mary Robinson ‘backed Dubai version of events’ (BBC)

Pics: UAE

UPDATE:

Oh.

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mary

From top: Artist’s impression of the Mary Robinson  Presidiential Library in Ballina, Co Mayo; Mary Robinson

Staying in tonight?

Grab a tay.

Laura Fitzgerald at RTÉ writes:

Tonight RTÉ Prime Time will feature a special report delving into the funding of the new Mary Robinson Centre project. It’s estimated it will cost almost €8.5 million to develop a Presidential library in the former President’s home town of Ballina.

A number of concerns have been expressed about the cost of the centre, it’s location and the fact that papers of a former President will not be housed in many of the existing archive departments in universities.

Traditionally the papers of former Presidents have been donated to University College Dublin or Trinity College Dublin. Controversially, Mrs. Robinson has applied for tax relief for making the donation.

Mayo County Council has also been officialy designated as an institution to which donors can now contribute items of Heritage value, which would entitle them to tax relief. NUI Galway is the academic partner for the Centre, the Department of Arts & Heritage has given a grant of €2 million and Mayo County Council has committed €1.5 million.

The establishment of a separate Presidential Library in Ireland is unprecedented.

The Chairman of the Oireachtas Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs Committee Peader Tóibin speaks on tonight’s RTÉ Prime Time, he tells the programme;

“At our next meeting I will be putting it to the committee that this is a serious concern and I will be asking the committee for their backing to send a letter to those three groups so they will come before us and shed light on the process they are involved in. We just want to make sure that the money is spent properly.

We simply want to make sure that the State is not on the hook for money into the future and we don’t have a crisis like we had in the Picture Palace in Galway and the only way to do that is to create transparency and that is the objective of the committee.”

Mr. Tóibin has also raised concerns about the role local politics has played in the state funding of the project.

He said:

“I think when a Taoiseach is involved in a particular project in his own county. When a Taoiseach gives his backing to a project before a decision is made within the Department, then there are major concerns then you would ask the question – is it being proceeded with for the greater good or is it being proceeded with maybe for local parish pump politics reason”

FIGHT!

RTÉ Prime Time tonight at 9.35pm on RTÉ One.

Pics via Mary Robinson Centre