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Taoiseach joins calls for immediate release of Ibrahim Halawa


Taoiseach Enda Kenny has written a letter to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi pleading for the release of jailed Firhouse man Ibrahim Halawa on humanitarian grounds.

Incarcerated without trial for nearly four years after being detained during Muslim Brotherhood protests in Cairo in 2013, his family say Mr Halawa has been refusing food while suffering a heart complaint and skin disease.

He will find out today if his latest trial will actually happen but after 20 postponements so far the family aren’t holding out much hope.

A candlelit vigil took place outside Leinster House last night where supporters handed a petition to Government calling on the 21-year-old to be released immediately.

Among those in attendance were his three sisters, Fatima, Somaia and Omaima.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone accepted the petition on behalf of the Government.

Earlier in the week the Taoiseach revealed his request to President el-Sisi after being pressured in the Dáil on the Government’s response to the case.

Mr Kenny said an Irish GP went to Wadi al Natrum prison last week accompanied by ambassador Damien Cole and they met with Mr Halawa for an hour-and-a-half.

The GP sat in on a medical examination carried out by an Egyptian doctor and has written a report on his observations, which is expected to be given to the Halawa family soon.

Mr Kenny said the GP recommended Mr Halawa’s be released on humanitarian grounds and flown back to Ireland for more tests.

Somalia revealed her brother collapsed on Sunday and was rushed to the clinic in Wadi al Natrum prison after his blood sugar level plummeted but he refused glucose treatment after regaining consciousness.

President el-Sisi has given previous assurances that Mr Halawa will be freed but only once his trial is over.