Republican campaigners have warned that a relative of Gerry Adams who has passed his 40th day on hunger strike has “entered a critical phase”.
Liam Hannaway, who is currently serving a 10-year jail term for dissident republican-related offences at Maghaberry Prison, is reported to be seriously ill. He is said to have signed legal papers saying he is not to be revived should he lose consciousness.
One of the 1981 IRA hunger strikers, Martin Hurson from Co Tyrone, died after 46 days.
Hannaway, from Hillhead Drive, Belfast, is protesting at being separated from other dissident prisoners and placed in a block with loyalists and a number of serious criminals at Maghaberry. Hannaway is a grandson of Sinn Fein president Adam’s cousin Kevin Hannaway — a founding member of the Provisional IRA.
The 40-year-old is understood to have founded a small dissident republican group called Saor Uludh.
He was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment in 2008 for possession of an improvised bomb in Belfast in September 2004. With time served on remand, he is due for release in 2012.
His supporters issued a statement last week that said Hannaway had been told by prison staff of a death threat to him.
The statement said an inquiry by Hannaway's “well-known republican family” determined that there was no threat to his life and that republican prisoners at Roe House (a wing of the prison) said they would welcome Liam “with open arms”.
“Despite this, in his first five weeks at Maghaberry, Liam was moved against his wishes, to the 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,” the statement said.
Carl Reilly from the campaign group Republican Network for Unity, said: “We are entering a critical phase. Liam was being treated for coronary problems before he went on hunger strike.”
The Prison Service said: “Any prisoner with a complaint can make use of the internal Prison Complaints System, which was revised earlier this year to make it quicker and more efficient.
“Prisoners who are not satisfied with the outcome of the complaints process can forward their case on to the Prisoner Ombudsman.”