Gerry Adams' cousin in his fourth week of Maghaberry prison hunger strike
A relative of Gerry Adams is beginning the fourth week of a hunger strike in Maghaberry prison in protest at the conditions in which he is being held.
West Belfast man Liam Hannaway (45) is one of 10 men charged with paramilitary offences following a dramatic police raid on a house in Newry last year.
MI5 had bugged the house in Ardcarn Park which was allegedly used for meetings by a breakaway faction of the Continuity IRA. It was alleged in court that suspected members of the terror group were plotting to attack police officers and judges.
Hannaway, a second cousin of Gerry Adams, is on the 22nd day of a hunger-strike in Maghaberry. He and his co-accused are being held with ordinary criminal prisoners in Bann House in the jail, but are asking to be transferred to Roe House, where other republican prisoners are held. Hannaway also alleges that he and some of his co-accused are regularly denied medication and access to doctors by the prison authorities.
A spokesman for the Irish Republican Prisoners Dependants' Fund said Hannaway had lost two stone in three weeks: "It's a fairly significant weight loss. Liam Hannaway hasn't taken this road lightly."
The republican prisoners' spokesman said Hannaway began the hunger strike on August 31 but the group hadn't publicised it as they had hoped for a private resolution with the prison authorities.
"The prisoners aren't asking for anything special," he said.
"They just want to be transferred to Roe House, where other republican prisoners are held. At the moment, they're with drug dealers, sex offenders and loyalists."
A prison service spokeswoman declined to comment directly on Hannaway's hunger strike but said: "The Northern Ireland prison service provides food for all prisoners. Any prisoner who has a complaint should raise it through the formal procedures."
Supporters of Hannaway staged a protest outside the British embassy in Dublin at the weekend.
In 2010, Hannaway embarked on a 42-day hunger strike in Maghaberry, where he was completing a 10-year sentence for possessing explosives.