26/05/2010

Prison Move Hunger Strike Abandoned

Lobbying on behalf of a dissident republican who has just come off a 42-day hunger strike may be about to pay off.

Liam Hannaway, who is from a well-known west Belfast republican family, is also a relative of Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams.

He was yesterday moved to the health care unit at Maghaberry prison - and is seeking to be placed in the prison's republican wing - which is what he has been demanding since he began refusing food.

Yesterday he was placed under medical care inside the Co Antrim prison with growing pressure to accede to his demands.

Liam Hannaway has served almost two and a half years of a 10-year sentence for possessing explosives and ammunition.

His family say he was refusing food in protest at being held in a vulnerable prisoners unit rather than on a wing with other dissidents having rejected prison authorities' claims his life would be in danger if he was moved to the republican wing.

A statement from the NI Prison Service yesterday afternoon underlined that he is being well cared for.

It said that a prisoner in Maghaberry Prison who had been refusing food for 42 days, had been transferred to the Healthcare Unit of the prison.

Tuesday's statement read: "His medical needs are being catered for by healthcare staff and his condition is being closely monitored.

"The Northern Ireland Prison Service and the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust do have operating procedures which are deployed where a prisoner is refusing food and/or fluids.

"This sets out what action is to be taken by the Service in such cases," the statement continued.

Also yesterday, the Sinn Féin Assembly member Raymond McCartney was granted a meeting with the Justice Minister David Ford on the ongoing situation in Maghaberry prison - including Liam Hannaway's hunger strike.

Mr McCartney said: "I have visited prisoners in the republican section of Maghaberry prison.

"I have also met with Liam Hannaway in a different part of the jail. All of the republican groups in the prison have made it clear that there is no threat to Liam Hannaway if he is moved back into the segregated wing," he said.

"Liam has raised a number of other issues with us which I have raised directly with the prison administration and the Justice Minister."

The ex-Maze Prison hunger striker and now MLA said: "It is my firm view that with the necessary political will all of these issues relating to Liam Hannaway, and indeed the wider problems in Roe House can be resolved," he said, but also slammed prison conditions.

"Regardless of why people are being held in prison they are entitled to treated with respect and dignity. In my view that is not currently the case in Maghaberry."

(BMcC/GK)

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