Billy Irving to go on hunger strike

Billy Irving with fiancee Yvonne MacHugh and their son William.

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Connel man Billy Irving, who is currently imprisoned in India, will go on hunger strike today (Friday June 16) along with fellow inmates.

As the men refuse to eat, friends and family will stage a peaceful protest outside the Indian High Commission in London.

The purpose of the protest is to put pressure on the Indian authorities to come to a decision about the men’s future.

Billy and his workmates have appealed against their sentence of five-years hard labour and are currently awaiting a verdict.

Billy was arrested in 2013 along with five other British ex-servicemen. The Chennai Six, as they are being called, were armed guards fending off Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean.

Indian authorities accused the crew of the MV Seaman Guard Ohio of straying in to Indian waters with unlicensed arms and ammunition.

The crew of the vessel were sentenced to five years last January.

On a social media page entitled Bring Billy Back, his dad, Jim Irving, said: ‘Billy, John Armstrong and Nick Simpson, along with all the Estonian and Ukrainian men, are staging a hunger strike starting tomorrow in support of the protest in London.

‘The men are so appreciative of the actions taken by others on their behalf and those taking part in the hunger strike feel it is the only protest they can make to show their support.

‘They have notified the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] and the prison management of their intended actions.

‘It is the only way the men have to show their anger and frustration at the injustice of this farce which has been dragged out by the Indian regime for almost four years.

‘Please, please keep up your support by pestering your MPs, be they new or old, to keep pressure on the UK government to take some positive action to get these men home.’