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 Header Item Leaders' Questions (Continued)
 Header Item Business of Dáil

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 916 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan] We must be brave and take radical, strong action internationally where needed. Standing up for that one young boy is standing up for every young boy in the country. It says something about ourselves and what we stand for.

Considering that the trial was postponed again until October and that the young man has for three years been in prison conditions that we increasingly hear are deeply worrying, given the concerns about torture and other forms of abuse, what does the Government intend to do?

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I share the Deputy's deep disappointment that there is a further delay in the trial of Mr. Halawa. The courts had indicated in advance of the latest hearing that there would be significant developments. Therefore, this latest adjournment is a real source of concern and frustration for Mr. Halawa and his family. I understand the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Charlie Flanagan, met members of the family earlier this week. The Government is continuing to pursue every route it can to offer consular support to the family and, more important, secure the release of Mr. Halawa by the Egyptian authorities.

The Government is continuing to keep its approach under close review. As recently as 16 June, as part of that approach, the Minister, Deputy Charlie Flanagan, met the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Mr. Shoukry, during his visit to the Middle East. Our Minister discussed the case of Mr. Ibrahim Halawa during that meeting and underlined our concerns. He clearly restated our objective of ensuring Mr. Halawa is returned to Ireland as soon as possible. The Minister also made clear that everything possible should be done to ensure Mr. Halawa's welfare and well-being while in custody.

There is no doubt that the Government has been extremely active on this issue. If the Deputy has suggestions for further initiatives that could be taken, I have no doubt the Minister and his team will consider them. Considerable effort is being made and it is disappointing to see the court case adjourned again. I will convey to the Minister the Deputy's continuing concerns and his hope that further initiatives can be taken.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan What I hear from the Minister's response is that he has no new initiatives. He has no different plan, even three or four days after this latest setback. In the interim, we have still been doing trade deals with Egypt, as if there were no problem. I suggest that we start to raise this at a higher level, at European level. This is the sort of issue in respect of which we should be putting pressure on Egypt not only as Irish citizens but also as European citizens. We should be operating at a far greater scale than before.

I suggest that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade bring in the legal team for the likes of Mr. Peter Greste, who was successfully extricated from similar circumstances. How was it that the Australians were able to achieve something in this regard while we have not been able to? At some stage, it will be asked why the Government is not exerting sufficient political pressure, including in respect of trade and other matters, with the Egyptian State because the latter is treating us with contempt in the way it is dealing with an Irish citizen. We have held back to allow due process, but there is no due process. That is what the Minister needs to raise at a much higher level than it has been raised to date.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I understand the Government did examine closely those other cases to determine whether there were lessons to be drawn from them that could be applied in this case. They were found to be different in their approach. The Government supported Mr. Ibrahim Halawa's own legal team in 2015 when it sought an application under presidential decree 140, which was for the release.

A number of legal avenues have been pursued. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade will take every opportunity open to him to highlight this case. I will bring to his attention the Deputy's view that an additional role could be played by the European institutions to support the Irish Government in this.

Business of Dáil

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty It is proposed in regard to today's sitting that the following additional business be transacted and that the arrangements as agreed on 28 June be amended accordingly: (1) that the motion re Standing Order 11 shall be taken without debate after Questions on Proposed Legislation, to be followed immediately by Voting Time; and (2) that statements on the EU-UK referendum result shall resume following Voting Time and shall adjourn, if not previously concluded, at 3.30 p.m. and be followed immediately by Question Time.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Is that agreed? Agreed.

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