Friday 21 October 2016

Editorial: Government needs to try harder for Ibrahim

Published 25/04/2015 | 02:30

Ibrahim Halawa
Ibrahim Halawa

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan is insistent that he and his department are doing everything in their power in the case of Ibrahim Halawa, who is incarcerated in an Egyptian jail.

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While we accept the bona fides of the minister in this issue, the fact remains that an Irish citizen has been held for 600 days in appalling conditions. It is all right to say that when an Irish citizen is arrested abroad "foreign law" applies, but when someone has been targeted for peaceful political beliefs, then it is fair to suggest that the Irish Government could, and should, do more. What appears clear is that Mr Flanagan and his department are resigned to Egyptian law taking its course, and then campaigning to have Ibrahim Halawa released, should he be found guilty.

But surely after the treatment this young man has received our priority must be to have him released, now. Two years is a very long time in anybody's life, but for a young man to spend two years in an Egyptian jail on flimsy political charges is outrageous. We should put aside diplomatic niceties and tell the Egyptian ambassador that Ireland demands Ibrahim's release.


Bringing order to the chaos of pre-nups

Hollywood has a lot to answer for when it comes to its contribution to the demeaning of the institution of marriage. The penchant of movie stars for picking up and dropping spouses before the confetti has even been swept away from the churchyard sets a bad example to those who follow the lives and loves of the celebrity classes.

The reality is very different. Since the introduction of divorce in this country in the mid-1990s, there hasn't been a complete collapse in marital standards.

Indeed, judging by current demands, the notion of 'hello divorce, goodbye daddy' hasn't materialised on a widespread basis.

Although entering into marriage with the best of intentions, some couples do wish to protect their family's assets in case life doesn't work out as planned.

The demand for pre-nuptial agreements to regulate ownership of assets in a subsequent marital breakdown is growing.

These agreements are intended to protect assets and monies also acquired during the marriage.

The Catholic Church raises a valid point with its vehement opposition to 'Hollywood-style' pre-nups on the grounds they would weaken the definition of marriage.

However, the reality is that legal documents are already being signed by couples without the requisite standing under the law.

The Irish Farmers' Association, in particular, has been pressing for legislation to be issued to assuage the fears of its members and their families about the splitting up or loss of farms in the event of a marital breakdown.

The Department of Justice has confirmed it is now assessing what impact the formal introduction of pre-nups would have, especially for family finances.

While its important to note no decision has been taken, a "policy analysis" of all the issues involved is in train - which is regularly a precursor towards drawing up legislation.

Such a move would ensure agreements currently being entered into would be regulated - without suggesting a pre-nup should become the norm.

Irish Independent

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