‘We stand with Ibrahim Halawa’
2016-02-03 13:17:44 -

Shatter to table Dáil motion calling for release of jailed teen in Egypt


By Chinedu Onyejelem


Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter will table a Dáil motion as part of efforts to secure the release of Ibrahim Halawa from imprisonment in Egypt.

The Tallaght teenager has been detained since August 2013 after his arrest for alleged involvement in anti-government protests.

Since then the date for his trial has been pushed back multiple times, which has prompted increasing concerns over his treatment.

Alan Shatter TD says since he “initiated steps for the tabling of a Dáil motion” in consultation with the Halawa family to enable the Dáil to officially express “our concern about his circumstances and seek his release”.

He adds a number of TDs from all benches have already contacted him to support the motion, which he hopes will be debated in the Dáil in early February if not dissolved ahead of the imminent General Election.

“If the Dáil is dissolved and this does not prove possible, it is my hope that the next Dáil will adopt the motion if Ibrahim’s trial has not occurred and if he remains imprisoned,” said Shatter, adding that the motion he lodged is similar to the one recently passed by the European Parliament.

Since Halawa’s arrest, Shatter says he has been in regular contact with his family and with successive Ministers for Foreign Affairs regarding his circumstances. 

“I have also met with and discussed his circumstances with the Egyptian Ambassador,” he says.

Halawa’s trial, part of a mass trial of nearly 500 accused, was most recently listed for March 2016 after already being adjourned on 12 separate occasions.

“There is no certainty that the trial will take place on its next scheduled date,” said Shatter. “Together with his family and others, I have very major concerns as to how a trial can properly proceed with such a large number of defendants before the court.”

Shatter also highlighted the efforts which the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charles Flanagan has made to secure Halawa’s release, including expressing “his concerns at European Union level and to the Egyptian authorities”.

Meanwhile, UCD Sinn Féin recently organised a demonstration to show their solidarity with the detained Halawa. 

The protest, held outside the Egyptian embassy in Dublin, attracted a cross-section of students, activists and politicians, according to Sinn Féin UCD’s public relations officer Oisín MacCanna.

“The campaign is at its strongest yet, with all of Ireland and the majority of the European community backing Ibrahim, so we need to keep the momentum going to get him back home to his friends and family safely,” he said.

“It is totally unjust that Ibrahim has been in detention for this length of time, and there need to be questions raised about the conditions in which he is being arbitrarily held,” added Sinn Féin TD Pádraig MacLochlainn.

Other speakers at the protest included UCD Students’ Union president Marcus O’Halloran and Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin.

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