Taoiseach calls Egyptian president to push for Ibrahim Halawa's release

Dáil passes all-party motion calling for release of Dublin student

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Ibrahim Halawa | File photo

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has spoken directly to the Egyptian president about Ibrahim Halawa's treatment.

The Dáil heard today that Mr Kenny raised the 20-year-old’s case in a call to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday evening.

The news came as TDs unanimously passed an all-party motion calling for a full diplomatic effort to have the young man returned to Ireland.

The motion recognises that Mr Halawa has been designated by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience and recommends that a parliamentary delegation be established to visit him in prison.

The Dublin student, along with over 400 co-accused, has had his trial date adjourned 14 times in the past three years. He was arrested at a protest in Cairo in August 2013. 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said Mr Kenny rang President al-Sisi to “again convey and underline our concerns at the latest adjournment” of Mr Halawa’s trial.

“In the course of that call, [he] set out, as we have done in previous contacts with the Egyptian authorities, the arguments for the immediate release of Ibrahim Halawa,” Mr Flanagan told the Dáil.

The minister said the government intends to lend its "full and urgent support" to a further request for release under presidential decree 140.

The law allows foreign defendants to be repatriated back to their country of origin before sentencing, to either be tried in court or serve out their sentence.

The legal provision was used last year to free Australian journalist Peter Greste, whose deportation renewed hope for Mr Halawa’s case.

Mr Flanagan added that the Egyptian president "made it very clear that he understands that this is a significant matter of concern" for the Irish government.  

"The president pointed to the requirement to respect the doctrine of separation of powers, as the Egyptian authorities have done consistently, and said that the Egyptian government is not in a position to intervene in a case which is before the courts.

"However, the president made clear that he wishes to see this matter resolved in the context of a positive bilateral relationship between our two countries," he said.