Coveney ‘frustrated’ by delays to Halawa release

Irish man’s return ‘a matter of time’ but process must be gone through, says Minister

After four years of detention, Irish man Ibrahim Halawa was cleared of all charges relating to a protest in August 2013.  Photograph: Family Handout/PA Wire

After four years of detention, Irish man Ibrahim Halawa was cleared of all charges relating to a protest in August 2013. Photograph: Family Handout/PA Wire

 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney says he is very frustrated by the delays in the release of Ibrahim Halawa.

However, he said he wanted to reassure people that it was an issue of bureaucracy and process, and that it was only a matter of time before the Dublin man would be released.

“There is a process that has to be gone through. We have been told that the prosecutor’s office needs to make decisions regarding all the defendants in the case at the same time,” he told RTÉ’s News at One, adding:

“We have spent a huge amount of time and resources to get Ibrahim home. We speak with the authorities daily. We want to see him released immediately.

“There is a process that has to be gone through. It is a matter of time. We will continue to push for his immediate release.”

Irish diplomats confirmed on Wednesday that they have been unable to visit the Dubliner since his acquittal by an Egyptian court over a fortnight ago.

A visit is expected to be arranged for next week unless Mr Halawa is released in the meantime.

Last month, Mr Halawa (21) was cleared of all charges relating to a protest in August 2013 after the ousting of then president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, after four years of detention.

Egyptian authorities have delayed the official release papers, and information has been difficult to come by according to his sister Nosbaya who is in the country at the moment.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this week told the Dáil that he had written to Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi regarding the case, and approaches have also been made to foreign minister Sameh Shoukry.

Mr Varadkar said that since Mr Halawa’s acquittal “the Government remains focused on ensuring he gets home as soon as possible”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Irish Embassy in Cairo is liaising closely with the Halawa family, including on travel arrangements, Mr Varadkar said. The Irish authorities and Mr Halawa’s legal representatives remain in ongoing contact with the Egyptian authorities.

“We have no confirmation at this stage on when Ibrahim will be returning home to Dublin but his family have indicated they wish to keep the arrangements for his return private and I think everyone will want to respect that,” he said.

Speaking in the Dáil, Opposition TDs including Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams criticised Mr Halawa’s continued detention in Egypt.