Charlie Flanagan says the Government is determined to see Ibrahim return to his family in Ireland
The trial of Ibrahim Halawa, who turns 21 today, in Egypt has been adjourned for the 17th time.
Halawa, from Firhouse in Dublin, has been held in an Egyptian jail since his arrest during demonstrations against the ousting of president Mohammed Morsi in August 2013.
Amnesty International confirmed this afternoon that Ibrahim - who is facing a mass trial with 493 other defendants - will be back in court on January 17th.
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan says he regrets the further adjournment but welcomes progress made 'in respect of the completion of a technical review of evidence'.
Minister Flanagan said in a statement: “The Irish Government remains determined to see Ibrahim Halawa return to his family in Ireland and we will not relent in our efforts with the Egyptian authorities to secure Ibrahim’s release.
“Our focus continues to be on applying maximum pressure on the Egyptian authorities in support of the pending application for Ibrahim’s deportation to Ireland under Egyptian Law Decree 140. The Government has also requested that Ibrahim be considered for release under a new Egyptian Government amnesty scheme for young prisoners."
He added that the Taoiseach has contacted the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi about the Halawa case 'on numerous occasions', most recently on November 17th. Minister Flanagan also reiterated that he has been in regular contact with his counterpart in the Egyptian foreign ministry and Egypt's Ambassador to Ireland.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: “It is beyond farcical that Ibrahim Halawa has now endured seventeen delays in his trial, spending 1,214 days imprisoned in Cairo. He was arrested while attending a peaceful protest in the summer of 2013. Today, he 'celebrates' his 21st birthday behind bars.
"Ibrahim should be at home with his family and friends. Instead, he is living in harrowing conditions in an Egyptian prison cell. His ongoing detention represents an inexcusable violation of both international and Egyptian law."
Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan says Ibrahim is spending his 21st birthday 'in appalling conditions'.
She welcomed EU movement on the case, explaining that “the President of the European Parliament made a clear statement this week in the plenary and called on the Egyptian government to respect its human rights obligations on Ibrahim‘s case and has now sent a letter to the Egyptian president to express his concern".
Yesterday, the Halawa family released photos of a craft tricolour bouquet Ibrahim made in his cell.
In an accompanying letter, Ibrahim wrote: "On my 21st Birthday, I have made something by my own hands. For so long I have been receiving presents and cards from my amazing family, my great friends and the beautiful kind Irish people. But on this birthday I have a present I have made in my cell with memories, a present I have expressed my feelings in. A hand-made flower bouquet with the colours of the Irish flag.
"On my birthday, I want to gift everyone who has always been there for me. I want to gift this to Ireland for raising me to be the man I am today," he added.