Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin pledged Thursday that Dublin would do “everything it can” to secure the release of French-Irish prisoner Bernard Phelain, whose health is worrying him.
The Iranian authorities arrested Bernard Phelan, 64, on October 3 while he was traveling as part of his work “with tour operators in Iran,” according to his sister.
Phelan was promoting, in France and Europe, tourism in Iran, and that trip was scheduled for a long time, according to the sister.
“We will do everything possible,” said the Irish Foreign Minister, when asked about this issue during a British-Irish conference in Dublin, at a time when the Phelan family called on Ireland to intensify its procedures for his release.
“I think we have been very active with regard to Bernard’s situation. We have sought with the Iranian government to secure his release on compassionate grounds,” Martin added.
He continued, “We are still responding to the family. We are sympathetic” to them.
On Thursday morning, Phelan’s sister, Caroline Masse-Phelan, made a direct appeal to the Irish foreign minister on Irish radio RTE.
“They intensified the negotiations to get Bernard out of there,” she said, noting that her brother’s health was “very bad” because of his hunger strike.
“We fear for his life,” she added, explaining that her brother suffers from heart disease and a bone disease that requires medical attention.
Bernard was arrested shortly after the outbreak of mass protests in Iran that came out to denounce the death of Mahsa Amini.
In the face of Tehran’s lack of flexibility regarding the demands of the French and Irish authorities for his release, Bernard went on a hunger strike on New Year’s Day before refusing to drink any liquids this week, which led to a rapid deterioration in his health.
A French diplomatic source told AFP that Bernard was showing “serious signs of physical and psychological exhaustion”.