Tánaiste says diplomacy is Ireland's only route for Halawa

A motion calling for the release of Irishman Ibrahim Halawa was passed in the European Parliament

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Ibrahim Halawa | File photo

Joan Burton has said she hopes Ibrahim Halawa can be released from custody in Egypt as soon as possible after his court appearance.

But the Tánaiste appears to have ruled out any direct intervention from Ireland ahead of his next appearance in court.

It follows a call for his immediate and unconditional release, which was passed by an overwhelming majority of MEPs earlier.

Joan Burton says the diplomatic approach being taken by Ireland is the best way to secure Ibrahim's release.

"That to some people may sound a dull way of doing it, but in this case it is only international diplomacy following on the court process that is going to see him returned to his family, and that is what we want as soon as possible," Ms Burton said.

A resolution calling for the release of Mr. Halawa from jail in Egypt was earlier today passed in the European Parliament.

The motion passed with a majority of 566 against 11, with 46 abstentions.

It calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

Ibrahim - who turned 20 last weekend - has been held without trial in Egypt for over two years.

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan read out a note Ibrahim smuggled out of jail.

"Today is my 20th birthday, and for the third time I send it alone".

"On this day I would like to send my best to all those who believe in freedom and defend humanity".

"Those who light a candle every night for the weak and oppressed", the note read.

Speaking in the European Parliament this morning Irish MEP Nessa Childers said we need to remember that Ibrahim was only a child when he was arrested in 2013.

The European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid says that they will support Irish efforts to secure his release.

Commissioner Christos Stylianides says it remains a consular issue, but they want to secure his release.

Mr Halawa’s two sisters were present during the vote.

One of his sisters, Somaia, says it was overwhelming to see her brother receive such support.