Ibrahim Halawa: TDs will travel to Egypt and lobby for release

Group will visit Irishman held in prison without trial since arrest in August 2013

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl is to lead a delegation of TDs to Egypt to visit imprisoned Dublin man Ibrahim Halawa.

Following contacts with Egyptian authorities in recent months, Mr Ó Fearghaíl has been invited to lead a group of Irish parliamentarians to Cairo, where they will meet their Egyptian counterparts.

The visit is likely to take place either before Christmas or early in the new year.

TDs will discuss a range of issues with the Egyptians and visit Mr Halawa, who has been held in prison without trial since August 2013, when he was arrested during protests in the capital.


Postponed 16 times

His trial has already been postponed 16 times. The next hearing is scheduled for December 13th - Mr Halawa’s 21st birthday.

The Government has faced criticism for its failure to secure Mr Halawa's release, though Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has raised the matter on a number of occasions with his Egyptian counterpart.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has also met Egyptian president Abdel Fatteh el-Sisi to press the case for Mr Halawa’s release.

The visit by Irish parliamentarians, mooted for months, has been approved after discussions with the Egyptian ambassador in Dublin, Soha Gendi.

Last summer, the Dáil unanimously agreed an all-party motion calling for Mr Halawa’s release.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, expected to be part of the delegation, said the visit will "make a difference . . . We have to try every diplomatic avenue. But you can't beat actually being there and meeting people face to face."

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times