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Dissident prisoners in hunger strike over treatment of New IRA-accused GP


Dr Issam Bassalat

Dr Issam Bassalat

Dr Issam Bassalat

Dissident republican prisoners in Maghaberry are on hunger strike in support of a Palestinian doctor charged over alleged New IRA links.

The Irish Republican Prisoners’ Welfare Association (IRPWA) last night said that Dr Issam Bassalat, who has “multiple health conditions”, was being held in “filthy and dilapidated conditions” in Foyle House, which houses non-political prisoners.

They demanded that he be moved to Roe House, where republican prisoners are detained.

Dr Bassalat was placed in isolation in Foyle House for a fortnight on his return to the jail from hospital.

The IRPWA said there was “room in Roe House to safely isolate Issam until the results of a Covid-19 test is complete”.

They said the Palestinian GP had warned he would go on hunger strike, and republican prisoners in Maghaberry and on the E3/E4 landings in Portlaoise Prison would engage in “a solidarity hunger strike alongside him” for a fortnight. A Department of Justice spokeswoman said: “Since the beginning of Covid-19 over 1,000 men have come through the isolation areas and into the main prison.

“This is for their safety and the safety of the general prisoner population.

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“During the 14 days, a person in the isolated area will have access to legal representation, showers, telephones and exercise. Prisoners in separation have previously accepted the need for a 14-day isolation period when they have left the prison for approved purposes.”

Dr Bassalat faces a single count of preparatory acts of terrorism in connection with an alleged New IRA meeting in July.

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