As a member of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs I try to have an active role in finding the best stance for Ireland to take on international issues.
I have a strong interest in conflict prevention, resolution and reconciliation and consider it a privilege to be in a position to influence national policy on these areas.
In the 23rd Seanad, I was on the Sub-Committee of Human Rights; my role as Spokesperson for the Irish Overseas and Diaspora strengthened my contributions to this committee. The Sub-Committee was established to consider all aspects of international human rights, including the role of the United Nations in this field.
Ibrahim Halawa’s solicitors have said that Law 140 can be used to free the young Irish man and has already been used to free Australian Peter Greste, who was Ibrahim’s former cell-mate. Below is a letter I have received from Peter Greste reiterating that the decree explicitly gives President Sisi the authority to remove a foreign national “to complete the judicial process” in his country of origin and could be used for Ibrahim as it was for him.
“Dear Senator Daly,
I am writing to you in your capacity as a member of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee out of concern for my former cellmate and Irish national Ibrahim Halawa. I understand that your committee has been looking into Ibrahim’s case, and that you have called on the Egyptian Ambassador to appear next Thursday.
I am one of the three Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned in Egypt throughout 2014 on terrorism charges before I was released on February 1 last year. Throughout much of that time, I shared a cell with Ibrahim in Cairo’s infamous Tora prison.
Until recently, I have refrained from speaking about the case, largely because I was concerned that having a convicted terrorist publicly supporting an accused terrorist would only confirm the Egyptian government’s conspiracy theories and probably make life more difficult for Ibrahim. But I have also become increasingly alarmed as the trial and the efforts to have him freed have dragged on without success, and I now feel compelled to get personally involved.
I know there has been much public debate in Ireland around Ibrahim’s motives and his family’s background, and there are two things I’d like to say in this regard. Firstly, although I wasn’t in Rabaa Square when Ibrahim was arrested, everything I learned about him in prison suggests that while he might be an idealistic young man with strong political ideas, he is in no way a violent “terrorist”, much less a threat to any society, and I saw nothing to substantiate any of the allegations against him. Secondly – and more importantly – his ethnic origins have obscured the far more important need to address the way Ibrahim’s most basic rights as an Irish and European citizen have been denied.
My own experience of Egypt’s judicial system shows that it is highly politicised, and in no way can it be relied upon to deliver anything like a fair trial. The same is true of Ibrahim’s mass trial. With that in mind, I would like to draw your attention to the following points:
* As you know, he is just one of more than 400 defendants – a situation which makes it impossible for each of them to adequately mount a defense.
* He has been in prison for more than three years – longer than the sentence handed down in my own retrial – with no evidence that he was doing anything other than exercising his constitutional right to free speech.
* He has been held in conditions that are far worse than any internationally accepted standards for prisoners.
* While there may be no corroborating evidence that he has been tortured, there is every reason to believe he has suffered enormously and unjustly during his time behind bars. In the absence of any other evidence, we should take his letters from prison as legitimate complaints regarding his conditions and treatment.
* He was imprisoned while he was a minor, and yet throughout he has been treated as if he is an adult.
I would urge you to press these points to the Egyptian Ambassador in the strongest terms possible, when she appears before your committee.
In addition, given that Ibrahim is one of thousands of people who Amnesty International rightly considers to be “prisoners of conscience”, his case ought to be seen as representative of a much wider problem of human rights, democracy and freedom of speech in Egypt. In that regard, he deserves far more attention than diplomats have given him so far.
I would also ask you to use very lever at the Irish Government’s disposal to put pressure on the Egyptian authorities to release Ibrahim. I note that Ireland is an active and influential member of the European Union, and should use that influence to bring the diplomatic, political and economic weight of the EU to bear on this case.
Finally, as you know I was removed from Egypt under the so-called “Decree 140”. I am aware that the Egyptian authorities have claimed they need to allow the judicial process to take its course before they can act. While that argument might have some political merit, the decree explicitly gives President Sisi the authority to remove a foreign national “to complete the judicial process” in his country of origin. That may be problematic in terms of Ireland’s domestic law, as it was in Australia, but my lawyers assisted the Australian government in drafting a diplomatic note that offered a solution to the problem. I know they would be happy to assist your government if you need any further advice or support.
If there is any way I can assist your committee or the Irish Government, I would be happy to help. I believe Ibrahim’s case is both urgent and important, and justifies all the attention you can devote to it.
27th MAY 2015
At my request, the Foreign Affairs Committee has invited Amnesty International to a meeting to discuss the detention of Irish-born Ibrahim Halawa. Today we received a response from the Taoiseach’s office acknowledging Ibrahim’s case.
27th JUNE, 2014-
Senator Mark Daly argues that the cancellation of the Intern Work and Travel Program in the United States will negatively affect Irish students that want to go abroad.
11th November 2014-
Speaking in Foreign Affairs I discussed Irish Neutrality and the disturbing concept of a European Army
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
Recently, I attended an interparliamentary conference in Rome. If the Minister had been there, he would have been disturbed to hear the language coming from our Italian hosts. They were essentially talking about a European army and the ability of Europe to intervene in the same way as the United States intervenes at the moment. They were not talking about having a common defence policy in the short term, but they obviously want to have such a policy in the long term. In addition, they said that we need to gradually create a European army.
On 12 September 2013, a European Parliament resolution referred to efforts within the Council to increase the flexibility and usability of battle groups, transfer of authority and removal of national caveats. That would basically remove Ireland’s veto over the deployment of battle groups. That was the language being used not just by the Italians but also by members of other parliaments. I tried to insert language in the communiqué of that conference to mention Irish neutrality and our insistence that there would not be a European army. We have a triple lock mechanism, so we do not and will not deploy our troops unless there is a UN mandate to do so. That was resisted, however.
Worse again is talk in the European Parliament about removing Ireland’s national caveat, that is, our veto over the deployment of troops. They were even talking about having a blank cheque, basically, the ability to get a resolution passed for the deployment of troops on undetermined future missions for unspecified causes. I do not know how the European Parliament passed a resolution talking about the transfer of authority and the removal of national caveats, but it certainly did.
Chairman: Can we have a question, if the Senator does not mind?
Senator Mark Daly: Could the Minister raise that matter with his colleagues in the Council? In future, all language in such resolutions should refer to Irish neutrality, which they refused to insert in that resolution.
November 17th, 2014-
Senator Mark Daly Spokesperson in the Senate for the Irish Overseas and the Diaspora and Chair of the Ireland America Association has called on President Obama to include ‘Humanitarian Visas’ in his Executive Order on Immigration Reform to allow the 50,000 undocumented Irish Home for Christmas
President Obama plans to sign an executive order to US immigration enforcement that will protect thousands of “undocumented” Irish, from deportation, granting working permits to many of them. The order will be a relaxation of rules allowing parents of US-born children or legal residents, to themselves receive legal status in the country, removing the threat of families being separated.
The Ireland America Association, an All Party Group of TDs and Senators chaired by Senator Daly, through its contacts in the United States Congress and in the White House have requested that the order will facilitate ‘humanitarian visas’ for the 50,000 undocumented Irish as well as the estimated 12 million undocumented people living in the United States.
“These people should be given the opportunity to apply for a ‘humanitarian visa’, this would would allow them to return to the US if they need to travel to their home countries to be with family members in times of distress, illness or bereavement.’
A motion calling on Minister Jimmy Deenihan, the first ever Minister for the Irish Overseas and Diaspora, to exert all diplomatic and political efforts on President Barack Obama in the formulation of the impending Executive Order on Immigration to ensure the provision for a ‘humanitarian visa’ is due to be placed on the Seanad Order Paper next week.
November 21st, 2014-
Senator Mark Daly senate spokesperson for the Irish overseas and the Diaspora has welcomed President Obama’s executive order on Immigration Reform which may allow some of 50,000 Undocumented Irish to come home in times of distress
Senator Mark Daly Spokesperson in the Senate for the Irish Overseas and the Diaspora and Chairperson of the Ireland America Association has welcomed President Obama’s announcement on Immigration reform last night. The President will today sign his executive order for US immigration Reform.
Senator Daly had previously called on President Obama to include ‘Humanitarian Visas’ in his Executive Order and has welcomed the initial outline by the president which may allow some of the 50,000 undocumented to come home in times of distress.
Senator Daly Commented “This is the most positive news the undocumented Irish have received in years, these steps will allow some of them to finally come out of the shadows and live without the constant fear of deportation. One of the most important things for the undocumented is the right to come home, many have missed countless Christmases, weddings and very distressingly for many families funerals.
December 3, 2014
I support the decision made to have the ‘Hooded Men’ judgement reviewed by the European Court of Human Rights following the RTE’s excellent report highlighting the methods used had a hugely traumatic, debilitating and life-changing effect and that, by any measure, the forms of interrogation used were torture.
December, 8 2014
At the request of Senator Mark Daly the spokesperson for the Irish overseas and the diaspora in the Irish Senate the Foreign Affairs Committee are due to hold a special meeting next week regrading President Obama’s executive Order on immigration. The senator has requested the Minister of State for the Irish overseas and the Diaspora to come before the committee
Senator Mark Daly has called on the Government to provide extra funding to Irish Organisations throughout the United States who will be helping some of those 50,000 Undocumented Irish who qualify under the terms of the President executive order.
Senator Daly commented “There are many brilliant organisations throughout the United States such as the ILIR (Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform) Irish Pastoral Centres in Boston, San Francisco and Chicago and the Aisling Centre in New York. These organisation are dealing with countless queries from the Irish community. Their work load has increased enormously in the past few weeks and this will only increase further in the coming months as many of the 50,000 undocumented prepare to come out of the shadows and work with the US authorities to become legal.
President Obama himself referenced these people in his speeches, saying “there are Irish in Chicago who do not have their papers in order”, I am calling on the Irish government to provide the essential funding these Irish Organisation will need to help many in the Irish community get their papers in order.
Senator Daly will also be pressing the minister of state for the Irish overseas and the diaspora to push the US government for ‘Humanitarian visa’s’ which would allow those not covered by the executive order to travel to Ireland to be with family at time of distress such as a during a bereavement.
“The US state department also need to be engaged with by the Irish Government on the issue of visa waives. The State Department have done this for Mexico and they should do it for Ireland also”
December, 8 2014
Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly and the party’s spokesperson on communications in the senate is calling on the Justice Minister to explain why foreign law enforcement agencies, including the British spy organisation General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) are being allowed access to Irish phone-calls and emails. The interception of underground cables was reported last weekend, and it’s now emerged that Minister Frances Fitzgerald has signed in a law which will allow this practice to continue.
Senator Daly commented, “I find it shocking that the Government would stand over the tapping of Irish data by foreign spy agencies. What’s worse is the fact that this practice has been commonplace for years and nothing has been done to stop it. The scale of this tapping is unknown, but it is possible that all Irish internet activity could have been monitored via these underwater cables.
“The details of this mass monitoring came to the fore last week following the publication of documents from US whistle-blower Edward Snowden, and raise serious questions about what the Irish Government knew about the bugging. Minister Fitzgerald has remained silent on the issue despite the revelations making national and international headlines.
“The Government has been extremely secretive in its handling of this controversy; and has now enacted a law to legitimise this surveillance. Minister Fitzgerald signed the relevant section of the 2008 Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Act into law at the end of November, almost keeping it under the radar, until the release of the Snowden files, which brought it to the public’s attention last week. Despite the subsequent media attention, the Minister has remained stony silent.
“This new legislation gives extended powers to Governments to pressure telecommunications companies into allowing them access to information and threatens them with “in-camera” private court hearings should they fail to comply. This is an extremely worrying development, and could leave personal and business data like text messages, emails, voice messages and phone calls open to exploitation.
“Minister Fitzgerald must clarify the terms of this legislation and give assurances that no monitoring will be allowed unless it is part of sanctioned criminal investigations”.
15th February 2015
Senator Mark Daly will force the vote if the government does not support his motion at this weeks Foreign Affairs meeting calling for the Egyptian President to release Ibrahim Halawa, an Irish/Egyptian national, a juvenile of 17 at the time of his arrest. The motion also calls on the Egyptian government to respect its international obligations under The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Ibrahim Halawa two sisters will attend the Foreign Affairs committee meeting at 2.30 on Wednesday for the motion and to hear from a Human rights expert about the ongoing Crisis in Egypt.
‘Talk is cheap’ said Senator Daly ‘and visits by Irish officials to the prisons is activity masquerading as action, what this Irish citizen needs is government intervention and action.
Other countries have managed to get their citizens released after government intervention including Australia”
The governments lacks urgency, recently it has been the case that Foreign Defendants are eligible for deportation to their home countries why has our government failed to not pursue this route? Amnesty international report into the Halawa case has shown he is innocent of all charges and should be released ‘ said Senator Daly who is the Fianna Fail Spokesperson for the Irish Overseas and the Diaspora
Senator Dalys motion reads as follows
That this committee calls on the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to release with immediate and unconditional effect Mr. Ibrahim HALAWA, an Egyptian/Irish national, a juvenile of 17
years at time of arrest, who has been held in detention in Cairo since August 17 2013. The motion also calls on the Egyptian government to respect its international obligations under The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.