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Taoiseach says no date confirmed for Ibrahim Halawa's return to Ireland

The family of Halawa said they want arrangements for his return to be kept Friday.

Ibrahim Halawa
Ibrahim Halawa

THE FAMILY OF Ibrahim Halawa have said they want to keep arrangements for his return a private matter, according the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Varadkar told the Dáil there is no confirmed date for his return to Ireland as of yet.

It’s understood that paperwork formally confirming Halawa’s release from prison, which was expected to be processed on Tuesday, has been delayed by Egyptian authorities.

It’s now been two weeks since the 21-year-old, an Irish citizen, was found innocent after spending four years in an Egyptian prison.

Halawa was arrested during a protest in 2013 in support of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, who had been ousted from power in a military coup.

The Taoiseach said he has written to the Egyptian President and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has spoken to his counterpart in the Egyptian government.

Varadkar said the Irish government has maintained diplomatic relations throughout to ensure Halawa is returned home safely, telling the Dáil that this was vital in ensuring that Irish representatives had access to him in prison, as well as ensuring they were able to attend court proceedings.

Varadkar said he would check to ensure that Irish diplomats still had access to Halawa, stating that he assumed this was the case as they would have had to provide him with his Irish passport.

He said human rights and the right to due process were “at the forefront” of their dialogue with the Egyptian authorities. Varadkar said he would now like Ireland to re-establish a relationship with Egypt on issues such as trade.

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams commended the Taoiseach on his role in ensuring justice has been served.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil’s Micheal Martin said he was concerned to hear the Taoiseach speak about resuming diplomatic relations with Egypt, stating that it can’t just be “business as usual” upon Halawa’s release.

He said the Irish government shouldn’t just “move on” without communicating its unease of an Irish citizen being held in prison for four years without trial.

“It can’t just be ‘all is forgiven’… It is important that we don’t step back from human rights issues… this chapter must inform the next chapter,” said Martin, reiterating his view that Egypt’s human rights practices are “unacceptable”.

The Taoiseach reassured the Fianna Fáil leader that Ireland will not step back from raising human rights issues with the Egyptian authorities in the future.

He said it was not his view that relations between the two countries can go back to what they once were upon Halawa’s return.

Read: ‘It’ll cost an absolute fortune’: Over 100 solicitors in contact with gardaí over fixed charge notice error>

Read: Varadkar says there is ‘no value’ in holding a referendum on the public ownership of Irish Water>

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