Republic of Ireland news

Ibrahim Halawa home in Ireland after Egypt prison sentence

Irishman Ibrahim Halawa arriving back at Dublin Airport after being released from an Egyptian jail following four years behind bars 
Ed Carty, Press Association

An innocent Irishman released from an Egyptian jail after four years behind bars has vowed to work for other prisoners overseas.

Ibrahim Halawa was freed late last week, about a month after he was acquitted of all charges related to a mass Muslim Brotherhood protest in Cairo in 2013.

In an emotional reunion with family, friends and supporters after flying into Dublin Airport, the 21-year-old said his priority was to spend time with his sick mother.

"I need to get some medical checks. I'm going to take some time off, my mom is sick, so I'll be taking some time by her side," Mr Halawa said.

The student, from Firhouse in Dublin, flew back to Ireland with Ambassador to Egypt Sean O'Regan and his sister Nasaybi.

After a private reunion at the airport with his wheelchair-bound mother and his father, prominent Dublin Muslim cleric Sheikh Hussein Halawa, Mr Halawa was swamped by well-wishers.

"There's going to be a lot to talk about," Mr Halawa said. "It still feels like a dream.

"This is a moment I've waited for for four years - a free man, acquired after four years.

"I have left a lot of cellmates behind. There's a lot of innocent people behind bars around the world, not just in Egypt."

Mr Halawa added that his experience of incarceration abroad has made him want to work for Irish prisoners overseas.

"Even if they are criminals or if they have been convicted I'm going to be asking for them to come back to do their time in Ireland," he said.

Sheikh Hussein Halawa with his son Irishman Ibrahim Halawa (left) as he arrived back at Dublin Airport after being released from an Egyptian jail following four years behind bars 

"I felt how it is to be away from home.

"I was always hoping that the least I could get would be prison at home so at least I could see my family."

Draped in the Irish Tricolour and passionately embracing old school friends and supporters, Mr Halawa said he also wanted to help homeless people.

He said he wanted to get his "life straight" and added that he was looking forward to a plate of fish and chips.

Irishman Ibrahim Halawa is greeted by family members as he arrived back at Dublin Airport after being released from an Egyptian jail following four years behind bars 

Mr Halawa praised the work of the Dublin government and diplomats.

His repatriation was delayed in part as new travel papers had to be issued for him.

He was jailed after being arrested in a mosque amid protests over the removal of the then Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi. He was one of almost 500 people in a protracted mass trial.

Three of his sisters, Somaia, Fatima and Omaima, were also arrested during the crackdown on the 2013 protest but later released on bail and returned to Dublin. They were acquitted following trial in absentia.

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