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Dissident republican hunger strike prisoners 'eating toast and making sandwiches'

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Dr Issam Bassalat

Dr Issam Bassalat

Dr Issam Bassalat

Further allegations have emerged that dissident republicans on hunger strike in Maghaberry have been eating during their protest.

The hunger strike was initiated 10 days ago in support of Palestinian doctor Dr Issam Bassalat (62), who has been charged over alleged links to the New IRA.

It has been claimed that the inmates have been refusing meals provided by the prison but have been making use of a communal tuck shop and making their own food. The Irish Republican Prisoners' Welfare Association (IRPWA) angrily denied that the inmates had been using a tuck shop earlier this week.

The prisoners have demanded that Dr Bassalat, who is also on hunger strike, be moved to Roe House.

Dr Bassalat was placed in Foyle House for a fortnight on his return from hospital due to Covid restrictions.

Republican prisoners in Hydebank and on the E3/E4 landings in Portlaoise Prison have also engaged in "a solidarity hunger strike alongside him" for two weeks.

However, a Maghaberry insider has told the Belfast Telegraph that the prisoners "aren't on hunger strike at all".

"It's all talk," said the source. "They're refusing meals provided by the prison but they're using their communal tuck shop that's been built up plus making sandwiches, toast etc."

Through the IRPWA, those on hunger strike in Maghaberry released a statement on Wednesday stating that they were not "eating any food of any sort" and the only thing they were consuming was water.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice (DoJ) said that there are a number of procedures in place to mitigate the risk of spreading Covid-19 among the prison population and that those in isolation have access to healthcare, legal representation, showers, and can maintain family contact.

Meanwhile, supporters of the inmates will undertake a 24-hour fast outside Maghaberry today. A white line picket at the Kennedy Centre in west Belfast will also be held.

Belfast Telegraph