Afghan hunger strike over as Gardai move in

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The Independent Online

A seven-day hunger strike by Afghan asylum seekers has ended after officers removed them from the cathedral they were occupying.

Irish police last night arrested the men, who had threatened to commit suicide in Dublin cathedral, and a number of youths involved were taken into care.

Forty-one Afghans had set up camp in the cathedral last Sunday and refused food. They demanded political asylum and claimed they would be tortured or killed if forced to return to their native country. Ten of the group threatened to jump from a 20-metre organ loft.

The move by Garda units brought an end to a crisis which had deepened when Church of Ireland negotiators pulled out of mediation attempts when a potential settlement was rejected by the authorities. It is understood that the Irish justice minister Michael McDowell has struck no deal with the group.

Earlier the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr John Neill, revealed the asylum seekers were prepared to accept the initiative. But the Department of Justice ordered clergymen to quit the negotiations as Gardai took control.