Ibrahim Halawa wraps the Irish tricolor around himself at Dublin airport earlier today. RollingNews.ie photo.
By Evan Short
Ibrahim Halawa, who spent four years in a Cairo prison, has arrived back in Ireland where he has been reunited with his family.
The 21-year-old from Dublin was acquitted last month on charges relating to a mass protests in Cairo in 2013. His three sisters were also arrested at the time but were released on bail and returned to Dublin.
Although he was released on Thursday of last week Halawa only arrived back in Dublin on Tuesday morning.
Mr. Halawa posted a photo of himself on his Facebook page on board a plane along with his sister Nosayba and Irish Ambassador to Egypt, Sean O’Regan.
He wrote: "Finally on my way home :) thank you to everyone who has caused this moment I love you all so much :) looking forward to finally coming home :) I will arrive Dublin at 11! #home #ireland #dublin #life #freedom #thankyou #happy #irish."
Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan, who was prominent in the campaign to bring Mr. Halawa home to Ireland said he is “very excited to be coming home.”
Speaking on the RTÉ Morning Ireland show she said: “There will be difficult days ahead as well when he comes to terms with the fact that he has lost out on those four years.”
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said: “I and all of my colleagues in government are very pleased that Ibrahim’s ordeal is now at an end, and that he is back home with his family.
“There will be many challenges for Ibrahim as he comes to terms with all that he has been through, and all the changes that have taken place while he has been detained in Egypt.
“He will need time and space in the period ahead and I hope that his privacy and that of his family will be respected.”
Mr. Coveney, in a statement continued: "This case has been one of the most complex, sensitive and difficult consular cases to which the Irish government has ever responded.
“Work on Ibrahim Halawa’s behalf has involved significant and sustained effort at the highest government levels, by parliamentarians of all hues; engagement at a range of senior official and diplomatic levels; widespread consultation, dialogue and advocacy with EU partners and in many capitals; the harnessing of expertise in Egyptian and international law and other areas; and an exceptional commitment by many public servants and embassy officials – both diplomats and locally-engaged staff - over more than four years.
“There were some difficult and dark times, but sight was never lost of our two key objectives – to get Ibrahim home, and to do everything possible to safeguard his rights and welfare for as long as he remained in the custody.
“I want to express on behalf of the government very sincere thanks to everyone who has been part of the effort to ensure that we would reach this happy day, when Ibrahim is finally and safely back home.
"My thoughts today are with Ibrahim and his parents, siblings and extended family. They have waited a long time for this day; they deserve to savor and enjoy it.”