19 April 2006

Embassy man to visit hunger striker

Daily Ireland

Campaign to get prisoner sent home

By Connla Young

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usA high-ranking Irish embassy official is to visit a seriously ill Irish prisoner waiting for a transfer back to Ireland.
John Neville, first secretary of the Irish embassy in London, has agreed to meet the Co Louth man Aidan Hulme just days after the prisoner was forced off a four-day hunger strike because of medical complications.
Mr Hulme launched the hunger strike to raise awareness of his ongoing medical condition
News of the impending visit came as prison campaigners revealed plans to hold a protest to demand the 27-year-old’s transfer to Ireland.
Earlier this year, medical experts told the Dundalk man that he would need to have his right leg amputated. Mr Hulme injured the leg during a motorbike accident in 2000.
He was given a 20-year jail term in 2001 after being convicted of involvement in a series of Real IRA bombings in London. The Louth man has said he wants to return to Ireland before doctors remove his damaged leg. Detained in Full Sutton Prison, Mr Hulme is unable to leave his cell because of his condition. He relies on the goodwill of fellow prisoners for food.
Prison authorities in Britain have faced criticism for failing to offer Mr Hulme, who is on 23-hour lock down, adequate medical attention.
British authorities say the relevant transfer papers were sent to the Irish Department of Justice last September and the delay in Mr Hulme’s transfer is down to that department.
Earlier this year, SDLP leader Mark Durkan wrote to justice minister Michael McDowell in a bid to speed up the republican’s transfer application.
Paul Doyle of the New Republican Forum, which has organised this week’s protest at the Department of Justice in Dublin, said urgent action should be taken to return Mr Hulme to Ireland. “We are expecting support from different groups and hopefully this will put pressure on the department. The position Aidan is in is fairly dire. We are pushing for as many people as possible to get involved in the campaign to bring him home,” said Doyle.
A picket will be held outside the Department of Justice at 94 St Stephen’s Green this Friday between 5pm and 6pm.
Other pickets are expected to be held in London and Chicago to coincide with the Dublin protest. The New Republican Forum intends to present an online petition to Department of Justice officials in Dublin.

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