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19 February 1998 Edition

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Limerick prisoner on hunger strike

By Marcas Mac Ruairí

CONCERN is growing in Limerick for the welfare of Paul Quinn, who commenced a hunger strike last Thursday, 12 February.

Paul (24), of Patrickswell, is protesting against his incarceration in Limerick prison for allegedly failing to account for his movements to the Garda Special Branch.

He was sentenced four weeks ago to six months imprisonment by Limerick District Court under section 52 of the Offences Against the State Act.

Highly critical of this oppressive law, the Sinn Féin candidate in the forthcoming Limerick East by-election Jenny Shapland described Paul's plight as a miscarriage of justice: ``What this actually means is that according to the Garda Síochána Paul did not give an accurate account of his movements on the dates in question.

``The fact is that Paul did give an account of his movements by stating that on the days in question he was living and working abroad. Paul Quinn's civil rights have been grossly violated by the state's political police and judicial system.''

She continued, ``His demands are, that seeing as his conviction was politically motivated he should be afforded political status and transferred to Port Laoise Prison immediately.

Described as a ``quiet and decent fellow,'' Paul worked in his family's construction business before he was arrested.

Supporters this week met with the prison governor in Limerick who conceded that he would like to see him transferred to Port Laoise but said that the matter was now in the hands of the Minister for Justice.

Speaking on Wednesday, Jenny Shapland said, ``Paul is now onto his seventh day on hunger strike and I call on the Minister of Justice and all other by-election candidates to act immediately to resolve this injustice that could have a detrimental effect on what is already a very fragile situation.

``Paul was working in London at the time in question. He is a victim of a gross miscarriage of justice, like many other cases such as the Birmmingham Six, and the Guildford Four, the only difference now is that it is on our door step,'' Shapland said.

There will be a protest picket organised by the Paul Quinn Action Group outside Limerick Prison at 4.30pm each day until Paul's demand is met.
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