herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Water protesters call off hunger strike

Water Protester Derek Byrne
Water Protester Derek Byrne

A HUNGER strike by three jailed water protesters appears to have been called off after three days.

Derek Byrne, Paul Moore and Damien O’Neill took meals in Wheatfield Prison yesterday, according to a source.

Last night Anti-Austerity Alliance councillor Brian Leech told the Herald: “I’m not sure what exact demands were made but as far as I am aware the strike is off.”

The families of four water charge protesters had made an emotional appeal to the three to reverse their plan to fast.

“We need you all to come out of jail strong and healthy, so that we can continue together on the road to victory,” they said in a joint statement.

“We are therefore appealing to you to stop refusing sustenance and to concentrate on building up your strength.”

Meanwhile, Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy said “it wouldn’t surprise me” when asked if the hunger strike was over, adding: “It seemed to be pointing in that direction.”

Mr Murphy also said that “thankfully” they had decided not to proceed with a threat to refuse fluids.

Byrne, Moore and O’Neill began refusing food on Friday and threatened to refuse fluids from yesterday morning in protest at being moved to Wheatfield in Clondalkin from the Training Unit in Mountjoy Prison on the northside of the city.

It is understood the men took three meals yesterday. The Irish Prison Service refused to answer questions on the hunger strikes, with a spokesman saying it could not comment on individual prisoners.

Byrne, from Streamville Road in Donaghmede, Moore, from Mount Olive Grove in Kilbarrack and O’Neill, from Greenwood Park in Coolock, were jailed along with Bernie Hughes of McKelvey Avenue in Finglas last  Thursday for contempt of court for going within a 20-metre exclusion zone around water meter installation works as per a court order of November 5, 2014.

Hughes, who was not involved with the hunger strike, is serving her sentence in the Dochas women’s unit.

A fifth person, Michael Batty, remains out of the country receiving medical treatment.

Derek Byrne’s partner Siobhan Walsh said he is “a good man, he’s passionate and he believes in what he’s doing”.

Read More: Jailed protesters on hunger strike

Meanwhile, a Cork City Council meeting had to be abandoned yesterday after anti-water charge protesters occupied the City Hall chamber.

The regular Monday meeting was initially suspended when a dozen protesters entered the meeting room and demanded to be allowed to make a public statement in support of Dublin and Cork campaigners.

However, it was decided protesters would not be allowed to make the statement. The chamber was occupied as a result. It was decided by Lord Mayor Mary Shields to abandon the scheduled meeting.

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