Anti-austerity activists have embarked on a hunger strike in protest at their incarceration at Wheatfield prison in Dublin, and are now also threatening to refuse fluids.
Five protestors were ordered to be locked up for up to 56 days by a court earlier this week as a result of violating orders to stay away from sites where water meter installations are taking place.
It was announced today that two of the prisoners, Derek Byrne and Paul Moore, are now on hunger strike.
In a statement, Derek Byrne said the men have been confined to a cell for the last three days “on complete lock down” in Wheatfield Prison in Clondalkin, after being moved out of Mountjoy Jail in Dublin’s north city centre, because of what he said was “a political decision”.
A number of protests have already taken place in Dublin city and outside Mountjoy jail against their imprisonment. In the largest display so far, a crowd of ten thousand gathered at short notice this afternoon in support of the activists.
“We have taken the steps to go on hunger strike and have been on hunger strike since yesterday,” Mr Byrne said in a statement.
“If we are not moved back to Mountjoy Training Unit, as we were told we would be, then on Monday morning we will be taking it further and refusing fluids until we are moved back to Mountjoy.”
He said it was harder for their families to make the journey to Clondalkin to visit them.
“Every decision made, from our court cases to our incarceration, has been of a political nature,” he said.
His two young children are now “in an emotionally distraught state” and the family is suffering financially. But he said he refused to back down from a “point of principle”. He also asked for protests at shopping centers and “silent peaceful candlelit vigils” outside houses owned by those politicians that he blamed for their incarceration.
RALLIES DEMANDS EQUALITY
The protest in Dublin city centre today was led by the families of jailed anti-water charge activists and marched to a rally at Mountjoy Jail.
A number of organisations including the Anti Austerity Alliance, the Socialist Workers Party, trade union Unite and Eirigi addressed the workers outside the Central Bank in advance of the march.
The location of the rally was intended to highlight the disparity between the treatment of the protestors versus the bankers who escaped unpunished after perpetrating a fraud which has cost the 26 County state billions of euro.
The umbrella ‘Right2Water’ campaign urged all those at the march to remain calm and peaceful.
Another demonstration was also taking place today in Castlebar, where the annual conference of the governing Fine Gael party is being held. Up to a thousand protesters gathering outside the constituency offices of Taoiseach Enda Kenny before marching on the Royal Hotel, where the conference is taking place.
About 300 members of the groups Right2Water, People Before Profit and Forgotten Farmers were met by barricades and a large contingent of gardai police.