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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 May 2006, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Afghan protesters appear in court
Hunger strikers in St Patrick's Cathedral
Some of the hunger striking asylum seekers
More than 30 Afghan asylum seekers on hunger strike in Dublin have appeared in court in the city.

They were removed from St Patrick's Cathedral by Irish police following a seven-day stand-off.

An estimated 41 men and youths took part in the protest. Eight minors were taken into the care of the health service and the adults were arrested.

Church of Ireland Primate Robin Eames said he was glad the protest had ended without any loss of life.

The police surrounded the Anglican cathedral on Friday and told the Afghans that they had to leave.

Campaigners said the men did not leave voluntarily but did not resist.

Archbishop Robin Eames
We hope and pray that people will support this process and will encourage a just outcome
Archbishop Robin Eames

The men have been charged with "forceable occupation of a premises" - a relatively minor offence.

They said they would be harmed if they were returned to Afghanistan.

The Afghans said they were from a mixture of ethnic and political backgrounds and have denied that any of them were Taleban members.

Archbishop Eames told BBC News: "This was an inevitable outcome, in terms of a situation where the church didn't have the resources to cope with this for a long term.

"What is happening now is that we are not, as a church, trying to press charges, or anything like that

"We hope and pray that people will support this process and will encourage a just outcome."

'Threatened to jump'

On Saturday, talks to end the hunger strike reached an impasse.

Church of Ireland staff had agreed a set of proposals acceptable to the protestors but these were rejected by the Department of Justice.

Two of the men who were taken to hospital on Friday tried to return to the cathedral on Saturday, but were turned away by Irish police.

The police surrounded St Patrick's Cathedral on Friday
The police surrounded St Patrick's Cathedral on Friday

Some of the men were said to have tied ropes around their necks and threatened to jump from the organ loft.

A number were hospitalised earlier this week with one reported to be critically ill, suffering from severe dehydration.

The Irish government had refused to negotiate on the men's asylum claims.

It said it would not concede to the demands on the grounds that it would set a dangerous precedent and would be unfair to those who seek to win refugee status through proper legal channels.




SEE ALSO:
Afghans in Dublin suicide drama
19 May 06 |  Europe
No resolution of hunger strike
16 May 06 |  Europe


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