Republican Liam Hannaway has ended his hunger strike at Maghaberry prison following intensive efforts to resolve his dispute with prison authorities.
Hannaway fasted for 42 days after not being allowed to serve his sentence in the republican wing of the prison.
“As you can appreciate, Liam is seriously ill at this time and we pray that he make a full and fast recovery,” his partner, Allison Diver, said.
“We are just ecstatic that this situation is now over and that we can all sit down and breathe again.
“These last 42 days have had a terrible effect on not only Liam but the entire family and we are just glad that it is now at an end.”
The dispute was brought to an end following renewed efforts by republicans to publicise the situation. Efforts to mediate with the British authorities involved the Sinn Fein-linked Community Restorative Justice group.
But British officials have refused to say if Mr Hannaway will now be allowed on to the Republican wing, only stating that “discussions were ongoing”.
The end of the hunger strike came after it was confirmed the father-of-six, who is distantly related to Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, was moved to a health care unit inside the prison on Monday night.
It was confirmed that there were no immediate concerns for his health and the move was to enable medical staff to monitor his condition more closely.
It is understood that the 40-year-old had signed legal papers stating that he should not receive medical intervention if he fell into a coma.
In a related development, it was reported that Prisoner Ombudsman Pauline McCabe is investigating Hannaway’s complaint and will deliver a report on his situation within a few weeks.
Sinn Fein’s Raymond McCartney, who met with Liam Hannaway earlier this month, welcomed the news that the hunger strike had ended. He said Hannaway had raised a number of issues with him in their meeting.
“It is clear that there are problems with the regime in Maghaberry,” he said.
“Particular issues raised by the prisoners included controlled movement, 23 hour lock-up and strip searching. These issues must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“Prisoners and their families must be treated with dignity and respect. Prisoners have rights and the prison regime should reflect this. Following our visit to the prison I made a number of representations to the prison authorities and to the new Justice Minister, David Ford,relating to prison conditions.
“I met with David Ford earlier today for further discussions on Liam Hannaway’s situation and the regime in Maghaberry. It was always my opinion that these matters can be resolved if the necessary political will is there.
“It is important now that other outstanding issues of concern in Maghaberry, are properly addressed by the prison authorities. Sinn Fein will continue in the coming days to keep working to that end.”