Public hearing for Halawa lawyers denied
The Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee has voted not to invite lawyers for imprisoned Irish teenager Ibrahim Halawa to a public hearing.
The surprise vote came after a report co-written by the law practice of Amal Clooney was critical of the Government's efforts to secure his release from custody in Egypt.
The high profile human rights lawyer is the wife of Hollywood actor George Clooney. Her practice, Doughty Street Chambers, had sought an audience before the committee.
In a report last month, it insisted the Government could seek Mr Halawa's repatriation under a law used to grant the release of Australian journalist Peter Greste. He was deported from Egypt earlier this year under what is known as Law 140.
However, the Government has maintained Law 140 cannot be applied to Mr Halawa.
A motion by Fianna Fáil senator Mark Daly for the committee to hear public testimony from Doughty Street Chambers was defeated following opposition from Fine Gael and Labour. Senator Daly said he was disappointed the legal team would not be heard from in public.
"If there is criticism, let us hear it in public. My concern is that members of the Government do not want to hear criticism of the Department of Foreign Affairs on what they should and shouldn't be doing."
However, committee chairman Pat Breen said he would prefer "an informal meeting with the legal team". Labour TD Eric Byrne claimed Mr Halawa's situation was being used "as a political football".