Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (211)

Finian McGrath

Question:

211. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the reason an Irish citizen (details supplied) is still being detained in Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8684/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

As the Deputy will be aware from previous responses to questions in relation to the person named my officials remain in close and direct contact with the person’s wife and family and they liaise directly with her on all developments in his case. The Ambassador and officers in the Embassy in New Delhi, which is accredited to Sri Lanka, and the Honorary Consul of Ireland Office in Colombo have also been very active in this difficult case.

The person named by the Deputy has been detained in Sri Lanka since 5 September 2007. No charge was brought against him until 29 January 2013. I am informed that at his trial on that date a sentence of one month was imposed on him. Subsequently, he was informed that he would be released on Tuesday, 12 February 2013. Based on this information his family made flight arrangements for him to return to Ireland. Officials from the Honorary Consulate attended the prison on 12 February to be present on his release and to offer any possible consular assistance. They were informed that the release would not go ahead and that 4 charges would be brought him.

I am personally very concerned about this latest development and especially by the sudden manner by which his release was revoked. I have written to the Minister for External Affairs expressing in the strongest possible terms my disappointment and concern at the latest developments in this case and asking that the Minister act to ensure that all possible due process of law is afforded to the person named by the Deputy. Arrangements have been made for our Ambassador in New Delhi to travel to Sri Lanka next Wednesday, 20 February in order that he may pay a prison visit to him. The Ambassador also requested a meeting with the Sri Lankan Minister for External Affairs and he will personally deliver my letter to the Minister.

I can assure the Deputy that all possible consular assistance will continue to be provided in this very difficult case and that my officials will continue to liaise with the family of the person named by the Deputy.