Gary Donnelly on hunger strike

Leading Derry dissident republican Gary Donnelly is currently on hunger strike in Maghaberry prison.

Donnelly, a prominent member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement (32CSM), began his protest fast on Friday after he was moved from the republican wing in the jail to an isolation unit after receiving a death threat, reportedly from the Real IRA.

Two weeks ago, the Derry republican was sentenced to seven months' imprisonment after losing his appeal after being convicted of assaulting a police officer.

He was moved onto the republican wing in the jail last Wednesday but was told by prison staff that the Real IRA had issued a death threat against him. His supporters say he refused to leaving the republican landing, insisting he was not under threat from any republican group. He began his hunger strike at 6pm on Friday after the decision was made to remove him from the republican landing.

It is understood that a priest visited the prison authorities on Friday night with a message stating that the Creggan man was not under threat from the Real IRA.

However on Saturday morning he was removed from the republican wing by riot police. His supporters have also claimed that he was strip searched five times since entering the prison just over a week ago.

A spokesperson for the 32CSM said a protest will be held today at Free Derry Corner at 2pm in support of Donnelly.

"32CSM activist Gary Donnelly was recently imprisoned after being assaulted by a member of the PSNI/RUC in Derry. Shortly after his incarceration Gary was placed on 'lockdown' and removed from the republican wing on the spurious grounds that his life was 'under threat from the Real IRA'. He was then placed in an isolation wing. As a consequence of this action, Gary has refused food pending his return to the republican wing," he said.

The spokesperson also said there is "no foundation" to the threat against the Derry dissident and to recent threats, reportedly from the Real IRA, issued to a number of individuals, including Sinn Fin press officer, Dale Moore.

A protest vigil is also planned for outside Maghaberry prison on Sunday evening.