Ibrahim doing well in 'very trying' conditions
Published 20/08/2015 | 02:30
The Irish student who has been held in an Egyptian jail for two years is in "reasonable spirits", writes Miriam Donohoe.
Pat Breen, the chair of the Dail Foreign Affairs Committee, had a 90-minute meeting with Ibrahim Halawa (inset) at Wad Al-Natrun prison in Cairo.
He said the young man is doing well in what are "very trying circumstances".
The 19-year-old, from Tallaght, was arrested at a mosque in Cairo after a demonstration in 2013 and has been held in detention awaiting trial since then.
Earlier this month, a court postponed the mass trial of 434 defendants, including Ibrahim, until October 4.
Mr Breen said there is a heatwave in Cairo with temperatures of 45C, making prison conditions difficult.
"Ibrahim raised a few issues. He has a respirator for breathing difficulties, but would like to be seen by an official prison doctor. He says he is being treated by interns and students," he said.
He also wants longer visiting time as he currently gets only five minutes once a week. "He is in one cell with nine others with very basic toilet facilities," said Mr Breen.
The politician had a meeting with Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry in which a number of issues were covered apart from Ibrahim's case, including the situation in the Middle East, Isil and migrants.
He raised concerns about the delay in Ibrahim's trial, which has been cancelled eight times.
"The minister pointed out that you don't mix politics and the legal system, that they are still separate," he said.
Mr Breen also revealed that he is set to have talks today with the CEO of Egypt Air to explore giving the airline clearance rights at Shannon airport for its flights to the US and Canada.
He said the talks are not part of any quid pro quo agreement between Ireland and Egypt to help secure Ibrahim's release.
"Absolutely not - our policy with this case is quiet diplomacy. We feel more can be achieved that way," he said. "It is important as Egypt goes in transition from a dictatorship to democracy that we have good relations."