The Minister for Foreign Affairs has said he is hopeful and confident that Ibrahim Halawa will be home by the middle of this week.

Simon Coveney said that a number of factors have delayed his release until now. This includes the timing of his acquittal, which coincided with the Muslim New Year.

Last week, Mr Halawa was acquitted on all charges relating to mass protests in Cairo, Egypt four years ago.

The 21-year-old from Firhouse in Dublin has been in jail in Egypt since his arrest in 2013 during protests against the ousting of then president Mohammed Mursi.

His three sisters, Somaia, Fatima and Omaima were also arrested but later released on bail and returned to Dublin.

All three, who were tried in absentia, were acquitted.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Coveney explained that in order for a prisoner in Egypt to be released, the prosecutor’s office must formally inform the prison office.

He said he understood that this letter has been drafted and said he hoped to get a copy of it today.

He said that once Mr Halawa has been moved from the prison service to the security directorate, things should move quickly.

Mr Coveney said: "Once he moves from the prison service to the security directorate, the rest will happen very quickly - that's what we're told.

And we're hoping that that may happen as soon as later on today. So I would be very hopeful and confident that we would see Ibrahim home before the middle of the week."