McDowell urges Afghan protestors to end hunger strike

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has called on the 41 Afghan asylum-seekers who are on hunger strike inside St Patrick's Cathedral to end their protest.

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has called on the 41 Afghan asylum-seekers who are on hunger strike inside St Patrick's Cathedral to end their protest.

The group entered the cathedral yesterday and said they would be refusing food and water until they were allowed to stay in Ireland.

They say they are at risk of torture and death in their home country and fear they will be deported following the rejection of some of their asylum claims by the Irish authorities.

Asked about the matter this morning, Mr McDowell said nothing could be achieved by their action as the Irish refugee system does not operate on the basis of church occupations and hunger strikes.

"I don't know what advantage could possibly be gained from this sort of thing," he said.

The minister also said the Irish Government was under no obligation to grant asylum to the men simply because Afghanistan is wracked by violence.

"It is not the case that because there has been major war in Afghanistan, people can come and live in Ireland," he said.

"If that were the case, if I were to establish that as a precedent, I could just say goodbye to any orderly immigration law."

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