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Politicians to visit Irishman Ibrahim Halawa on 'hunger strike' in Egypt jail

A cross party delegation of Irish politicians will travel to Egypt on Monday to visit jailed Irishman Ibrahim Halawa.

The man's family in Dublin said they are worried about his health and claimed that he has gone on hunger strike for at least the third time since he was imprisoned over political protests more than three years.

He has not eaten for 15 days and is drinking only two cups of water a day, they said.

The Irish delegation expects to meet Mr Halawa on Tuesday.

His family claimed he has told them in recent days that he would continue refusing food until he is released.

"Ibrahim has recommenced his hunger strike because he has reached the stage where he is giving up and is going to continue this hunger strike until he is freed," his sister Somaia said.

"We know that Ibrahim is losing the ability to be able to cope with this."

Mr Halawa refused food for prolonged periods at least twice before during his incarceration.

From Firhouse in Dublin and the son of prominent Muslim cleric Sheikh Hussein Halawa, Ibrahim Halawa was detained in a mosque near Ramses Square in Cairo as the Muslim Brotherhood held a "day of rage" over the removal of their elected president Mohamed Morsi in August 2013.

The student marked his 21st birthday in a Cairo jail in the weeks before Christmas. He is awaiting the start of a mass trial, three years on from his detention during a crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood.

The next hearing in the case has been scheduled for January 17.

Eamon Ryan, Green Party TD and member of the delegation, said the ultimate goal of the visit was to help secure Mr Halawa's freedom.

"T he hope is for Ibrahim's return and that an all-party delegation provides a clear diplomatic message that supports his case for return and helps to make that happen," he said.

Ceann Comhairle Sean O Fearghail accepted an invitation to lead the delegation.

The Halawas said: "We welcome the upcoming visit by Oireachtas members to Cairo to visit Ibrahim in prison and to advocate for his immediate release.

"We are of course hopeful that this visit will help secure Ibrahim's release but we remain extremely worried, as does he, that this ordeal will just continue and continue."

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