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13 September 2001 Edition

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Back issue: Two families intervene

CRISIS POSTPONED

THE planned strategy of the Hunger Strike, by which the H-Block blanket men had aimed to bring maximum pressure on the British Government, with the prospect of an H-Block death each week, has been reduced in effect by the decision of relatives under pressure to authorise medical intervention for Matt Devlin and Laurence McKeown last weekend.

The deliberate constant crisis has, as a result been postponed, with the leading Hunger Striker Liam McCloskey having reached his 38th day on the fast on Wednesday of this week, September 9, some three weeks from the point which experience has shown to be the most critical.

Nevertheless, this is only a postponement, and the prisoners have shown in the clearest possible terms that the Hunger Strike goes on.

Last Monday 25-year-old John Pickering from Andersonstown in West Belfast joined the fast, and next Monday another prisoner will bring the number of Hunger Strikers to seven. Whilst John Pickering began his third day on the Hunger Strike on Wednesday, of last week, Gerry Carville from Greencastle in South Down and also aged 25 was just one week ahead on ten days.

Another week separates him and 30-year-old Bernard Fox, from Belfast's St James' area, who was then on 17 days. And another 25-year-old Andersonstown republican, Jacie McMullan, is just seven days ahead again, having completed his 24th day on the fast on Wednesday.

On Sunday 6 September Laurence McKeown reached his 70th day on the fast. Up to the previous day, his family had been denied daily visits to him in spite of his critical condition. On the Saturday, however, a room was set aside for them at the prison hospital and they were at Laurences's bedside on Sunday morning when doctors told them he was unconscious. They authorised medical intervention and he was transferred to the intensive care unit of the Royal Victoria Hospital.

On Wednesday, 9 September, the relatives of the six prisoners then on Hunger Strike issued the following joint statement:

``We the families of the present Hunger Strikers in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh wish to stae out public support for the political prisoners' struggle for their five demands and for our loved ones on Hunger Strike.

``We call upon the British Government to ensure a permanent ending to all prison protests by implementing the conditions outlined by the prisoners. We request a public response from the British Government to this appeal.

An Phoblacht, Saturday 12 September 1981



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