Republican inmates refuse prison meals for a week
MORE than 20 republican inmates in Maghaberry have been refusing meals for more than a week, in the latest dispute in the prison.
The protest was launched last week after prison authorities closed a food hatch on the prison’s Roe Four landing.
It is believed the hatch was located beside to a canteen and was used for both distributing food and ventilation.
Since then prisoners have been eating only food bought from the prison’s tuck shop.
Campaigners claim the decision has caused "massive upheaval" on the republican landing which houses 22 prisoners.
It is understood several prisoners with complex medical conditions have taken part in the protest, including Belfast man Terry McConnell who underwent brain surgery earlier this month.
Mandy Duffy from the Irish Republican Prisoners’ Welfare Association said inmates felt forced take protest action.
"Long term this is going to get into a situation that is going to have a detrimental impact on prisoners’ health."
It comes after the Irish News revealed that the International Committee of the Red Cross has agreed to chair a prison forum involving republican inmates and prison officials.
Republicans claim that authorities have failed implement a 2010 agreement which would end strip searches and relax controlled movement.
They also say that prison chiefs have failed to implement an independent stocktake of the agreement published last year
In 2012 republican prisoners ended a no-wash protest weeks after prison officer David Black was shot dead by the ‘IRA' as he travelled to work at Maghaberry prison along the M1 Motorway.
Tensions in the jail boiled over earlier this year after prisoners claimed that movement was further restricted during building work.
Meanwhile, it emerged last night that solicitors for Terry McConnell threatened legal action in a bid to force authorities to ensure "he receives adequate medical attention."
His solicitor Michael Brentnall said his client has been denied access to medical treatment since returning to the prison earlier this week.
"In light of our client’s recent brain surgery we are requesting they ensure he receives urgent medical treatment and has access to an adequate diet."
A spokesman for the Prison Service said: "The NIPS provide food for all prisoners."