Taoiseach should respond to elderly woman on hunger strike without delay

08 November 2017

Kathryn Nelson, an elderly woman living in Clough, Ballacolla, Co Laois, has been on hunger strike since the 24th October. She is a former teacher and successful international businesswoman.

Some days prior to going on hunger strike she sent a letter to the Taoiseach outlining the reasons why she felt obliged to take such drastic action.

These include wrongful arrest for alleged involvement in the Northern Bank robbery in 2004; being subsequently libelled by a sunday newspaper; the delay of nearly six years in having her name cleared through the courts; the loss of her employment and of her reputation during that period; and her inability to earn a living subsequently. Her life and career, she says, were ruined as a result of her arrest for a crime she did not commit. Her book “A Terrible State”, published in 2012, relates the tragic story of how those experiences destroyed her life.

Now her application for an old age pension is bogged down in bureaucracy.

Her health is poor, she has no income in her twilight years and now may be unable even to pay her rent past the month of December.

Overwhelmed by the accumulation of setbacks and hardships in recent years she feels she has no other choice but to go on hunger strike now.
Kathryn spent 56 days on hunger strike previously in 2007 in protest against the delay in processing her case.

Her health is such that she could not possibly survive such a prolonged period without food now.

I am calling on the Taoiseach to respond to the letter sent to him by Kathryn Nelson, a proud Irish woman, and to act urgently to address the grievances which has caused her to go on hunger strike.

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