former President of Ireland

  • Former President of Ireland, Ballina native, Mary Robinson has issued a brief statement today after she came under fire for describing a ‘missing’ Arabian princess as a “troubled young woman” following a meeting between the pair at the behest of the princess’s family  to help solve a “dilemma”.

    According to, photographs of Ms Robinson and Sheikha Latifa – the daughter of the billionaire ruler of Dubai – were issued by the United Arab Emirates government last week after they met on December 15.

    Officials in Dubai said Ms Robinson was assured Latifa was in "the loving care of her family".

    The photographs prompted speculation about the princess and how her meeting with Ms Robinson came to pass.

    Mary Robinson spoke about the meeting for the first time yesterday on BBC radio – and said Latifa was receiving medical care.

    Ms Robinson's interview attracted criticism on social media, with campaigners asking how she could make such a sound judgment on Latifa's mental health after only spending a few hours with her.

    She responded to the backlash through a statement this morning, adding she would not be making any further comment at this time.

    She said she was dismayed at some of the media comments on her visit and added “I would like to say I undertook the visit and made an assessment, not a judgement, based on personal witness, in good faith and to the best of my ability," Ms Robinson said.

    Explaining how the meeting came about, the former UN Commissioner for Human Rights said she visited Dubai on December 15 at the request of Princess Haya bint Hussein, one of the wives of the UAE Prime Minister.

    She has known and worked with Princess Haya for many years in her capacity as a member of the UN Global Humanitarian Forum and as a UN Messenger of Peace. Mary Robinson said she was aware of the international concern over Sheikha Latifa and that she had not been seen for many months so when Princess Haya asked her to go to Dubai to meet with both of them, she said she agreed, without hesitation.

    "On my arrival in Dubai I received extensive briefings and it was clear to me that Princess Haya had particular concern for the welfare of Sheikha Latifa whom she described as troubled and quite vulnerable. During my time with her Sheikha Latifa presented  a very likeable young woman with a wide range of interests but her vulnerability was apparent," she said.

    The welfare of Latifa sparked massive concern amongst human rights groups following her failed attempt to escape the UAE last March.