The Government may take the concerns surrounding the ongoing imprisonment of Irishman Ibrahim Halawa to a European level, in the absence of movement from the Egyptian government.
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said in the Seanad yesterday that he was “deeply disappointed” with the most recent delay in the trial of Mr Halawa.
On Wednesday, Mr Halawa’s trial in Egypt was postponed for the 14th time, meaning the the Dublin-born 20-year-old has now been imprisoned indefinitely for three years.
Mr Flanagan said his hands were tied and that his department cannot “directly intervene or interfere”. Mr Flanagan said he could only commit to continue to provide assistance to Mr Halawa’s family, and push the issue through diplomatic channels.
The exclusively consular approach was roundly criticised in the Dáil and Seanad.
The lack of any diplomatic breakthrough and the continued postponement of Mr Halawa’s trial was also a “deep disappointment” for Education Minister Richard Bruton. He said the Government would look into any role that “could be played by the European institutions to support the Irish Government” in the case.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said it is time for Taoiseach Enda Kenny to intervene directly in the process and open up a dialogue with the head of the Egyptian state.
Ms McDonald said Mr Kenny must make it clear that Ireland “will no longer tolerate the lack of due process and justice, and the absolute abuse of an Irish citizen”.
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said it was “clear that whatever the Government has been doing is not working.”
“Standing up for that one young boy is standing up for every young boy in the country. It says something about ourselves and what we stand for,” he said.
The Green Party yesterday called for cross-party support to see the Government request an Egyptian presidential decree under Law 140, to allow Mr Halawa return home while awaiting his trial.
Senators Mark Daly (FF) and Fintan Warfield (SF) both echoed the call over Law 140, which saw an Australian citizen released last year before his trial following pressure from his government.
Mr Warfield said “this Government has been misled twice by the Egyptian authorities. Once when they lied about Ibrahim’s whereabouts when in prison, and yesterday we were led to believe that Ibrahim’s trial would conclude”.
He asked: “When will our State apply for the presidential decree?”
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