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‘They are in good spirits’: Irish official visits Halawa siblings in Cairo jail

The four Irish citizens continue to be detained in the Egyptian capital but have now been visited by an Irish consular official.

Mohammed Morsi supporters in Cairo yesterday
Mohammed Morsi supporters in Cairo yesterday
Image: AP Photo/Amr Nabil

Updated 4.28pm

THE DEPARTMENT OF Foreign Affairs has said that a consular official from the Irish Embassy in Cairo has visited the four members of the Halawa family at a detention centre the Egyptian capital today.

Minister of State Joe Costello said that the official has reported the four “are in good spirits”.

“Officials are in contact with the family here in Dublin and relayed this information to them immediately,” Costello said in a statement issued this afternoon.

The three Halawa sisters, Omaima (21), Fatima (23) and Soumaya (27), and their 17-year-old brother Ibrahim have been held in the Egyptian capital’s Tora prison since being taken from the al-Fatah mosque on Saturday.

The four have been on an annual holiday to visit an aunt since June, but had joined protests in support of ousted Prime Minister Mohammed Morsi last month. They took refuge in the mosque at the weekend, but security forces stormed the building and detained those inside.

There had been hopes yesterday that the four would face a local prosecutor, but that has not happened and there had been confusion as to there whereabouts.

Costello said the primary concern of the Irish government has been for the welfare of the four siblings and said he was glad “we’ve managed to establish access to them” but admitted they still face an uncertain future.

“While this information will come as a relief to their family, obviously they are still in detention, and unfortunately the situation in relation to legal proceedings against them is unclear at present,” the Labour TD said.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland yesterday, the siblings’ sister Nusayba said that her brother was being beaten.

“I was talking to a girl who told me they are beating men to hell. She wasn’t sure how he looked, but she said that all of the men were being beaten.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs added that the Irish embassy in Egypt continues to liaise with Egyptian authorities on the matter.

- additional reporting Hugh O’Connell

First published 10.57am

Read: Hopes that four Irish citizens detained in Egypt will be released today

Read: Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader arrested in Cairo

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