Wednesday 17 January 2018

Prisoners begin protest in Portlaoise as they are denied 'gluten-free bread'

Michael McKevitt
Michael McKevitt Newsdesk Newsdesk

A group of prisoners - including RIRA boss Michael McKevitt - are protesting against the authorities' refusal to give them gluten-free bread.

The 'Irish Daily Star' reports that more than 25 republican inmates at the country's top security prison in Portlaoise Prison have begun stockpiling rubbish as they prepare for a "dirty protest" in a bid to get the authorities to change their mind.

Sean Connolly (35) has admitted to killing Eamon Kelly
Sean Connolly (35) has admitted to killing Eamon Kelly

A security source told the newspaper the inmates have begun stockpiling rubbish in their cells.

Read more here: Yoga and Home economics courses should entitle real IRA leader to early release, court told 

The prisoners say the protest is due to the fact they have been denied gluten free bread as part of their prison diet.

The group - which is also believed to include killer Sean Connolly, who was convicted of the murder of Eamon 'The Pensioner' Kelly in 2012 - claim they were promised a gluten or wheat free diet by prison authorities several weeks ago.

However, this hasn't happened and the inmates are angry at what they perceive is a broken promise.

Read more here: Dissident republican leader says his participation in art, drama and yoga classes means his prison term should be reduced  

The Prison Services have declined to comment.

Earlier this week Cogus - a group set up to campaign for republican prisoners north and south of the border - issued a statement highlighted food as one of the prisoners' main complaints. However, the statement made no mention about a gluten free bread.

"The food has seriously deteriorated over the last number of months and in general is sub-standard, at times unfit for human consumption, comprising of basic small portions which are totally inadequate," the statement said.

"This has resulted in men having to purchase food with the little money they have through the prison shop which charges extortionate prices. Numerous attempts have been made by the prisoners to resolve this issue but to no avail."

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