Government defends its efforts to secure the release of Ibrahim Halawa
Tanaiste Joan Burton has defended the Government’s diplomatic efforts to ensure of the release of Irish teenager Ibrahim Halawa.
Ms Burton today urged the Egyptian authorities to examine the prospect making bail available to the teenager, who has spent over two years locked in a prison in Cairo.
The issue of Ibrahim’s detention was raised by Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald during Leaders’ Questions after it emerged that he has gone on hunger strike.
Ibrahim was detained during a protest in the Egyptian capital in August 2013. An eighth court date for his trial has been set for the beginning on August.
His family have said they are desperately concerned for his wellbeing.
Ms McDonald accused the Government of failing to do enough to secure the teenager’s release.
“Ibrahim’s mother visits him every week...she has no contact on those visits. She sees her son behind wires, she can’t comfort him, console him, give him a hug,” said the Dublin Central TD.
In response, the Labour Party leader said officials have made contact with Ibrahim on 140 occasions and that efforts are continuing.
“You could visit him 140 times, that’s not worth a candle to the young man, if he is to continue being detained in an Egyptian prison,” Ms McDonald said.
Today, the teenager's family revealed the 19-year-old had gone on hunger strike ahead of his trial in Egypt.
His sister Somaia said they had become increasingly concerned for his wellbeing after his case was adjourned for a 7th time earlier this month.
“We are coming to the stage where we are just losing all hope," she said.
“We just want him to come back home to his family."