Labour man on hunger strike

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A Portadown man has gone on hunger strike in an attempt to persuade the Labour Party to allow members to stand as candidates in Northern Ireland.

Matt Beeching, a member of the Upper Bann branch of the Labour Party in NI, said the issue was “really, really important” to him and for that reason he was prepared to risk his health and his life.

Matt Beeching

Matt Beeching

Mr Beeching gave a live Facebook video feed on his protest today (Wednesday) and plans to give one each day at 1pm “for as long as I am able to”.

He stressed that he would not recommend a hunger strike to anyone else but it was something very personal to him.

He said many people had tried to dissuade him from it but that it was the only real way of the issue getting the attention it needed.

“This protest is not about me. It’s about the unrepresented people in northern Ireland,” he said.

“There are lots of people in Northern Ireland who really need us (the Labour Party). Despite the sister party relationship with the SDLP they only seem to appeal to middle class nationalists.

“Tory austerity has been implemented by the DUP and Sinn Fein and others in Stormont and it’s going completely unchallenged.”

He added that under Corbyn, Labour is moving away from opposition to being in government and “to deny people the right to vote for them is wrong on every single level”.

“I am going to continue, I am not stopping,” he said of his hunger protest. “The decision to do this was mine and mine alone. I did not seek any authorisation from the Labour Party of NI nor was it suggested I should.”