Row over Ibrahim Halawa leads to Dail being suspended

Things got heated in Leinster House today when a TD tried to discuss the plight of the local man imprisoned without trial in Egypt since 2013.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl adjourned proceedings for 10 minutes after People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith refused to sit down when she was ruled out of order.

Ms Smith had brought up the case of 21-year-old Firhouse resident Halawa whose trial in Egypt was cancelled on Wednesday for the 20th time.

When the Ceann Comhairle said the issue wasn’t relevant to the order of business Ms Smith accused him of trying to shut down debate on Mr Halawa who is currently on hunger strike.

Smith said that it was relevant, as she was questioning if any legislation may exist to attempt to help Halawa.

The Ceann Comhairle said his job is to enforce the rules of the House, and asked Smith to resume her seat.

When she refused the requests from the visibly angry Ceann Comhairle, the Dáil was briefly suspended.

On Tuesday Minister for Children and Dublin South West TD Katherine Zappone said the Irish government is to insist that an independent medical expert be given access to Ibrahim Halawa in the prison.

Minister Zappone has also offered to facilitate a meeting between the Halawa family and Irish Government officials.

Speaking after the case was discussed at this week’s cabinet meeting, Minister Zappone said:

“The Taoiseach and other Ministers shared my deep concern when I informed them of a report on Ibrahim’s health, which was provided to me by his legal representatives.

“I also expressed the deep concern of his sisters Somaia and Fatima about the years of delay in securing their brothers release.

“Following a discussion it was agreed that Ireland will ask that a medical expert, nominated by the Chief Medical Officer, would be given access to Ibraham. This should happen as a matter of extreme urgency.

“In addition I offered to facilitate a meeting between the Halawa family and Irish Government officials to review the approach being taken to secure Ibrahim’s freedom.

“As their local TD I remain in close contact with the family and their legal representatives – I support every effort they are taking to secure Ibrahim’s freedom.”