Protestant Prisoners End Hunger Strike
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ Eight Protestant inmates in Magilligan Prison ended Friday a 26-day hunger strike against alleged mistreatment without obtaining any concessions, a spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office reported.
He said the prisoners, convicted members of Protestant paramilitary groups, ended their fast with an afternoon meal in the penitentiary northwest of Belfast.
They agreed to call off their hunger strike shortly after a visit by the Rev. Ian Paisley, a hardline Protestant leader. Paisley told reporters, ″I pointed out to them that no government is going to bow under duress to anyone’s demands.″
The prisoners were protesting restrictions on their movements and alleged mistreatment by prison officers.
A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office, the British government department that runs the province’s affairs, said, ″There were no concessions, no deal was struck.″ He spoke in line with the government policy of not being identified by name.
All eight were convicted on serious charges including attempted murder, possession of firearms and blackmail, according to the spokesman.
He said Joe Nellins and Frank Curry, two of the prisoners who began the fast on June 16, were in a hospital Friday, but they were not in serious condition.
Protestant militants and guerrillas of the outlawed Irish Republican Army are battling over the future of Northern Ireland, a British province where Protestants outnumber Catholics 3-2. The predominantly Catholic IRA, outlawed in both Britain and Ireland, seeks to unite the province with the overwhelmingly Catholic Irish Republic under a leftist government.