The family of a French-Irish citizen detained in Iran since October has called on Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin to escalate negotiations with Iranian authorities to "get Bernard out of there".

Bernard Phelan, a Paris-based travel consultant and one of several French nationals held by Iran, was arrested in Octover while travelling and is being detained in Mashhad in northeastern Iran.

Mr Phelan has been on hunger strike since the New Year and on a thirst strike for the past three days.

His sister Caroline Massé Phelan and their father pleaded with the 64-year-old to stop the strike as they fear he would die.

According to the family, Mr Phelan did break his strike yesterday, but they are still extremely worried about his health.

Ms Massé Phelan she said her brother's health is "extremely bad" as he has a heart condition and chronic bone illness.

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Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, she said she and her father got a message to Bernard through the French and Irish consulate and urged him to end the hunger strike.

They told him "to stop, to eat, to drink, and that it wasn't worth it, it wasn't worth losing his life in this situation and that everybody was rooting for him".

She explained that Bernard has joint Irish and French nationality and officials from both countries are working to get her brother released.

Ms Massé Phelan said Bernard is waiting for a judicial procedure to proceed but the case has not advanced.

She said her brother is "a pawn in a bigger political game".

"It's too dangerous to wait any longer. Bernard is 64, an Irish citizen. He has no beef with the Iranians," she said.

"He worked in tourism and for all his life and was promoting Iran as a destination for tourism. He shouldn't be there and just let him go because. He absolutely is an innocent pawn in a bigger political game."

She said she has faith in the teams that they can negotiate with the Iranians for his release.

"It's a humanitarian question. He should be absolutely released."

'Government will do everything it possibly can'

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs has said the Government will do everything it possibly can to ensure the release of Bernard Phelan.

Micheál Martin said officials have been very active in the case and said they have called for the 64-year-old's release on humanitarian grounds.

He said he was awaiting a response from his Iranian counterpart and said the Iranian ambassador here has also been contacted.

He said Mr Phelan is someone who loves Iran and encourages people to visit there. He said he felt for his family and said officials will respond to them.