Tuesday, 22 March 2016
European Council Meeting: Statements
As Deputy Crowe will be aware, the trial of Ibrahim Halawa is ongoing. The Government is trying to be as measured as possible in its public comments on the case, in respect of which our objectives are twofold. The first is to ensure Mr. Halawa is released by the Egyptian authorities in order that he can return to his family and the second is to provide consular support to him while he is in detention. Mr. Halawa has received 50 consular visits while in detention, which is an extremely high level of consular visitation.
With respect to the deployment of a Naval Services vessel, the Minister for Defence, responding to a question from the Deputy, indicated that the Government is willing to make a Naval Service vessel available again. We have not received a specific request on the matter, which is ongoing. The Taoiseach and Minister have both stated that, given the excellent work done by several Naval Service vessels in rescuing more than 8,500 people in recent months, we would make such an offer again.
With respect to the conditions on the border between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, support for both countries is being channelled and co-ordinated at European Union level. A broader response is needed to many aspects of the current crisis and it is vital that this agreed response is co-ordinated and shows solidarity towards all member states.
I will address the other questions the Deputy raised in his earlier contribution when I wrap up the debate.