SITUATION CRITICAL FOR IRISH HUNGER STRIKER
Republican prisoner Liam Hannaway needs your help
IRISH FREEDOM COMMITTEE NEWSLIST
Friday May 14, 2010
SITUATION CRITICAL FOR IRISH HUNGER STRIKER
31 Days on Hunger Strike at Maghaberry Prison
Despite blood ties to Provisional Sinn Fein figurehead Gerry Adams, Independent Irish Republican political prisoner Liam Hannaway today enters his 31st day on hunger strike at Maghaberry Jail; virtually unnoticed by local and international media.
The Irish Freedom Committee spoke with Liam Hannaway's fiancée Allison yesterday to learn more and offer our immediate assistance. Allison tells us Liam is in good spirits but his health is deteriorating rapidly, far faster than expected. He is pale and weak and is having trouble standing. He is determined to see his demands - chiefly to be moved to the Republican landing at Roe house - met. He has refused all vital medications he had been prescribed because they contain sucrose, or sugar energy. He had been seen daily by a medic, but refuses that now as he is entitled to an outside independent doctor, but the prison refuses him this right. On Friday last he signed an advance medical directive stating that should he fall into a coma or become incapacitated, not to revive him. We ask your critical help today to help put pressure on the British government to have Liam's reasonable and feasible demands met; and immediately end this now-dangerous hunger strike.
Liam was sentenced ten years in 2008 for possession of explosives. While still on remand at Maghaberry prison, Liam was approached by prison staff and told that an alleged death threat had been put on his life by unnamed republicans. These alleged `threats' have never been substantiated. An extensive inquiry by his well-known republican family has determined without any doubt there is no threat to his life from the movement on the outside. The republican prisoners at Roe house have said they will welcome Liam "with open arms".
Despite this, in his first five weeks at Maghaberry Liam was moved against his wishes to the SSU, or Special Supervision Unit – a bleak and unfurnished isolation cell with no contact to the outside world. Liam was held in this isolation cell, on 24-hour a day lockdown, with no access to fresh air, for the next 16 months. During this time his fiancée Paula and his father Kevin fought a long and lonely battle to get even the barest comforts of a chair, a fork and utensils to eat with. After efforts were made by an outside human rights organization, Liam was finally able to eat sitting down and with utensils, after 14 months in SSU.
This abhorrent treatment would break the strongest person. INLA prisoner John Kennaway tragically took his life in these cells after four months in isolation, in 2007.
As a prisoner with an alleged `death threat' against him, Liam has the right to sign a waiver with the prison, absolving it and its personnel of any legal claim or court case in the event this `threat' does manifest itself. Recently, in a well-documented case, another republican prisoner Gary Donnelly was alleged to have a `death threat' against him and was also confined to SSU; but was allowed to sign this waiver and return to the republican landing after three days.
In essence, while Liam is allowed to sign away his own life in an advance medical directive pertaining to his hunger strike; he is not allowed to sign a waiver absolving the prison of any culpability, so that he could be housed with his comrades on the republican landing of the jail.
Following the Easter protest of 2009, when fourteen republican prisoners were put `on the boards' in the SSU's punishment blocks; Liam was moved, again against his wishes, into a separate unit of Maghaberry prison at Glen House. There are fifteen prisoners housed with him, all of them Loyalists, ex-warders, and ex-police; jailed with crimes from rape to drugs. He is surrounded by UDA and UVF posters, Union Jacks, and heavily tattooed prisoners and warders. It is a threatening and depressing atmosphere. Liam has borne it up well.
"He has made it a point to walk to the shower every day with his head held high", Allison told us. "It is not a place anyone would want to land themselves in as a catholic, let alone as a republican." In its bleak isolation it is, as she says, "a continuation of SSU".
We asked Allison if she thought that Laim's blood relation to Gerry Adams, and the recent elections in the North, could be a factor in why Liam's horrific situation has gone on virtually unnoticed; along with the continuing crisis to all the republican prisoners at Maghaberry jail. "Oh, absolutely", she stated. "These are the men that Adams and Provisional Sinn Fein want to forget".
Allison has suffered two strokes in the past few years, the last one after her home was raided by security forces and her children's bank-books and savings seized. The paltry sum of 130.00 Sterling has still not been returned. She manages to visit the jail almost daily now and attends protests for the prisoners at the jail, despite being confined to a wheelchair much of the time. On December 23 of last year, on a Christmas visit to the jail with her five children, Allison was singled out by PSNI officers at the jail after passing through a body frisking and the drugs-dog gauntlet, and told that she was subject to a `random' strip search. She was told that of she refused, she would be arrested on the spot and taken to barracks. It being her Christmas visit with all her children to see their father, Allison complied with this humiliating, degrading and utterly unnecessary assault on her privacy.
Allison and Liam's father Kevin have asked the Irish Freedom Committee for our help to end Liam's increasingly dangerous hunger strike by pressuring the Prisons Service and Justice Minister to allow Kevin to sign the waiver to absolve the prison of any legal culpability in the so-called `death threat'; allow Liam his legal right to be seen by an independent doctor; and return him as soon as possible to the republican landing at Maghaberry's Roe House. There is no sound reason why these steps cannot be taken immediately by the prison.
A sample letter follows. Please act now, before Liam suffers irreparable harm or goes into a fatal cardiac arrest. Contact saoirse@irishfreedomcommittee.
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David Ford, Justice Minister
Department of Justice
Paul Goggins, Minister of State
NORTHERN IRELAND OFFICE
Governor, Maghaberry Prison
Upper Ballinderry Road
Lisburn, Co. Antrim
BT 28 2PT
Friday May 14, 2010
To whom it may concern,
I am writing with my extreme concern regarding the current hunger strike by Liam Hannaway, a political prisoner in Glen House at Maghaberry Prison.
As of this writing, Liam Hannaway has been on hunger strike over one month, and his health is gravely deteriorating. Thirty days without food is a critical stage at which he may die at any time, and I appeal to sense to have this man's quite reasonable demands met.
Liam has repeatedly petitioned to be housed on the republican landing at Roe House. Officials at Maghaberry prison have denied this request, under the pretext that there is a `death threat' against him by the republican movement. No substantiation to this claim has been found by his family in the outside, and the republican prisoners have said they will welcome Liam "with open arms".
Liam has repeatedly requested his right to sign a waiver that would legally absolve Maghaberry Prison of any culpability or claim by the courts should this `death threat' manifest itself after Liam's return to Roe House. He has been refused this right to a waiver, despite the fact that another republican prisoner Gary Donnelly, who similarly had an alleged `death threat' against him, was allowed to sign this waiver after three days in SSU and was returned to Roe House.
I understand that on Friday May 7, Liam signed an advance medical directive stating that should he fall into a coma or become incapacitated during his hunger strike, not to revive him.
I find it quite disturbing that while Liam is allowed to sign away his own life in an advance medical directive pertaining to his hunger strike, the government of Maghaberry Prison refuse to allow him his right to sign a waiver absolving the prison of any legal culpability; which would permit him his wishes to be housed on the republican landing at Roe House.
I respectfully and urgently demand that Liam be seen by an outside medical doctor, which is his right, and not a prison medic; that he be immediately allowed to sign the prison waiver regarding the alleged `death threat'; and that steps be taken to move him as soon as possible into Roe House with the republican prisoners – who have stated they will welcome him `with open arms'.
The favor of a reply is requested.
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Page updated: 05/14/2010
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