Northern Ireland

Female prisoners join republican hunger strike

(left to right) Sharon Rafferty, Mandy Duffy and Christine Connor 
(left to right) Sharon Rafferty, Mandy Duffy and Christine Connor  (left to right) Sharon Rafferty, Mandy Duffy and Christine Connor 

Three female republican prisoners have joined a hunger strike in support of a Palestinian doctor Issam Hijjawi.

Dr Hijjawi (62) was one of ten people arrested as part of an MI5 operation targeting the 'IRA', also known as the New IRA, last month.

The 62-year-old launched his fast on September 16 while in isolation for two weeks after returning from an outside hospital following an MRI scan

Republicans say that around 20 inmates at Maghaberry Prison in Co Antrim and 21 held in Portlaoise Prison in Co Laois are refusing food since last week.

The have now been joined by three female prisoners, Mandy Duffy, Sharon Jordan and Christine Connor who are all currently being held at Hydebank Wood College and Women's Prison.

Connor is serving a sentence for trying to kill a police officer in 2013, while the other two were arrested as part of last month's sting.

In a statement the woman confirmed they joined the hunger strike yesterday.

“We unreservedly support Issam in his hunger strike and his demand for immediate transfer to Republican Roe House,” they said.”

Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association spokesman Paddy Gallagher last night said that over the first five days of the hunger strike male prisoners held in Maghaberry lost 19 stone between them.

Earlier this week justice minister Naomi Long said Dr Hijjawi was going through the normal coronavirus-checking procedure of entering isolation on his return to prison. She added that her department is in contact with police in relation to a planned prison protest at the prison this weekend.

Republicans say they will intend to hold a protest and 24-hour fast at the site on Saturday while a white line picket will be held earlier at the Kennedy Centre in West Belfast.