Dáil debates

Thursday, 14 July 2022

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla (Atógáil) - Topical Issue Debate (Resumed)

International Relations

5:15 pm

Photo of Malcolm NoonanMalcolm Noonan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Green Party) | Oireachtas source

I thank Deputy Kerrane for raising this most important issue. I want to extend our best wishes to Robert and his family. What the Deputy has described is a hugely challenging situation. It is desperate for any family to have to face that. I am aware of the case of Robert Pether, who has been detained in Iraq for over a year along with his Egyptian colleague, Mr. Khalid Radwan. Mr. Pether is an Australian engineer, and was working in Baghdad on a project to construct a new headquarters for the Central Bank of Iraq. He was arrested in April 2021, and in August 2021, was sentenced to five years' imprisonment and issued with a fine of $12 million. Mr. Pether is an Australian national, but his wife and children live here in Ireland. Mr. Pether's imprisonment has understandably been a huge source of distress for his family. The Department of Foreign Affairs has taken an active interest in this case. The Minister has discussed the case with Ms Pether, and officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs have been in regular contact with Robert's wife.

We note, with deep concern, the conclusions made by the UN working group on arbitrary detention on this case, and urge the Iraqi authorities to engage urgently and constructively with the working group on the issues raised. Mr. Pether is an Australian national, and the Australian Government is the appropriate consular authority in this case. In February, the Minister for Foreign Affairs discussed the case with the then Australian Foreign Minister, Ms Marise Payne. Ms Payne detailed the extensive consular support being provided by the Australian Government. Officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs have also been in contact with the Australian Embassy in Iraq and the Australian Embassy in Dublin to express concern about Mr. Pether, and the impact that this case was having on his Irish-resident family. As the Deputy will understand, it would not be appropriate to comment in detail on an ongoing consular case of an international partner. The Minister, Deputy Coveney, has also raised concerns over the case of Mr. Pether directly with the Iraqi authorities. While he has made clear that Australia is the appropriate consular authority, he noted that Mr. Pether's family are based in Ireland, and highlighted the distress which this case is causing to them. Officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs will continue to follow this case very closely and will keep in close contact with the family of Mr. Pether, with the relevant Australian authorities and with the Iraqi authorities as appropriate.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.