Tuesday 25 June 2019

Irish Water protesters end hunger strike action

Paul Murphy
Paul Murphy

Sam Griffin, Ralph Riegel and Maria Taylor

The three Irish Water protesters locked up in Wheatfield Prison have ended their hunger strike action.

Damien O'Neill had given up food after he was transferred to the west Dublin facility from Mountjoy Prison, alongside fellow protesters Derek Byrne and Paul Moore.

However, it is understood that all three accepted food and liquids yesterday.

The three men were sent to prison last week for breaching a High Court injunction preventing them from going within 20 metres of water meter installers.

Another protester, Bernie Hughes, was also incarcerated and is serving her sentence in the Dóchas women's unit. A fifth person, Michael Batty, is out of the country receiving medical treatment.

The men have taken up their hunger strike in opposition to being moved from Mountjoy Prison to Wheatfield Prison.

Last night a prison source said the men were moved to Wheatfield as there was more available space there.

The men had claimed they would give up all fluids from yesterday morning, but Mr Murphy said "thankfully" they had decided not to proceed. "We welcome this on a health and well-being basis and purely out of concern for people's health," he said.

He added the men were no longer in 23-hour lockdown in the prison.

A vigil was held outside Finglas Garda Station in solidarity with the imprisoned protesters.

Some of the water protesters appeared on the 'Claire Byrne Live' programme on RTE last night, as did Socialist Party TD Ruth Coppinger.

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 make a public statement in support of Dublin and Cork campaigners facing ongoing court action.

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

Meanwhile, some 60 people gathered outside the constituency office of Environment Minister Alan Kelly in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, last night calling for the release of the jailed water protesters.

Irish Independent

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