Seanad debates

Monday, 26 April 2021

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Eugene MurphyEugene Murphy (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I raise the concerns I and others have about a family from my county of Roscommon whose husband and father is an Australian-born engineer. He is being held without charge in Iraq. This story appeared in The Sunday Times yesterday in an article by John Mooney. Even though it is only 10 km down the road from me, I was not aware of this story. I believe it is in the Irish Daily Mailtoday.

I ask the Leader to approach the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Coveney, and the Department to help secure this man's release. The gentleman's name is Robert Pether and he has been living in Elphin in Roscommon for over two years. His wife and three children are there and to say they are distraught and upset would be an understatement. His wife and children are Irish citizens. He was arrested on 7 April in Baghdad with an Egyptian colleague in connection with a contractual dispute over the country's new central bank headquarters. He is being held in solitary confinement but the family pointed out to me that, as far as they can find out, he is being treated well by the Iraqi authorities. His arrest has stunned the engineering and construction community in that part of the world.He is highly respected. He has carried out a great deal of work and was the main overseer of this major building, the new central bank headquarters in Iraq.

A dispute seems to have arisen between the authorities and the company carrying out the work, and as far as I can establish, he has been caught in the middle. I acknowledge that a local councillor, Valerie Byrne, has also been working on this issue this morning. It is a very sad case. There was the Dublin case previously. Will the Leader do what I have requested? I am in contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs and am sure the Minister will do his best.


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