Mother battling to repatriate children from Egypt receives support from Taoiseach

Simon Harris says Government efforts are taking place to secure the return of two children from Egypt

A mother seeking to secure the return of her two children from Egypt has said she has received a “warm and empathetic” letter of support from Taoiseach Simon Harris.

Mandy Kelly (38), from Dundalk, Co Louth, said her estranged husband, the children’s father, refused to let the boys come home from a family holiday in Cairo in April 2022.

Her youngest child, Kareem, was just six months old at the time and the eldest Zayn was three years old. Zayn turned six this month.

Ms Kelly said her estranged husband is an Egyptian national and she has had no contact from her children since they were taken to Cairo. She has retained lawyers in Egypt to fight for custody.


However, Egypt is not a signatory to The Hague Convention which provides a process through which a parent can seek to have their child returned to their home country.

Ms Kelly has spent the past two years petitioning officials from the departments of Foreign Affairs and Justice and wrote to Mr Harris asking him to intervene with the Egyptian government in a bid to see her children returned.

In a response dated May 16th Mr Harris said the Tánaiste had “raised your case directly with the Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, and has expressed his desire to see a satisfactory conclusion to this lamentable ordeal”.

Mr Harris said the Tánaiste had made representations to the Egyptian authorities “on more than one occasion” and said there was “no basis” for the State to revoke the children’s Irish passports.

The Taoiseach also said the Embassy in Cairo “remains active on the case, engaging with officials in the Egyptian ministry of justice and the good intentions committee”.

Mr Harris expressed his “deepest sympathies for the hardship you and your family have been forced to endure over the last two years”.

On Thursday Ms Kelly spoke to the Children’s Ombudsman, Dr Niall Muldoon, in a meeting facilitated by Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys.

Ms Kelly said she intended to seize the opportunity of next month’s local and European elections to highlight her case. She has written to existing and candidate MEPs asking them to endorse her campaign, to raise it at the European Parliament and use the European institutions to bring pressure to bear on Egyptian authorities.

“We have a bilateral agreement with Egypt on the return of antiquities, but not in relation to the return of children”, she said.

Ms Kelly has previously met Minister for Justice Helen McEntee. She said the Minister was “open” to looking at a potential bilateral agreement or a memorandum of understanding between the two countries that could help with her situation.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist