Family of Irish man held in Iranian prison hold vigil outside Dublin embassy

Calls for Co Tipperary man Bernard Phelan’s release as concerns raised over his mental and physical health

The family of Irish tour operator Bernard Phelan, who is detained in an Iranian prison, held a vigil outside the country’s embassy in Dublin on Thursday, renewing demands for his release.

Mr Phelan (64), originally from Co Tipperary, was arrested during recent protests against the Iranian regime. According to his family, he has been sentenced to serve 6½ years.

“The Iranian authorities must immediately release 64-year-old dual Irish-French national Bernard Phelan, who is arbitrarily detained in Vakilabad prison in Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan province,” Amnesty International Ireland said on Thursday.

His family has dismissed his charge of “providing information to an enemy country”.


Mr Phelan, who lives in France, works for an Iranian tour operator and was travelling on a French passport at the time of his arrest.

Amnesty has demanded he be given access to adequate healthcare, including medication and treatment, as well as regular phone calls. It is also seeking his access to a lawyer of his own choosing, unhindered consular assistance from the Irish and French, and translators while in custody.

His family has expressed alarm about his deteriorating mental and physical health, specifically pre-existing conditions that require attention.

“Bernard Phelan’s detention is arbitrary, due to the gravity of violations of his fair trial rights, including his right to access an independent lawyer of his own choosing, to adequate defence and to meaningfully challenge the legality of his detention before an independent and impartial court,” Amnesty said.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times