Donegal pensioner goes on hunger strike in Castlerea Prison

Donegal pensioner goes on hunger strike in Castlerea Prison

A Donegal pensioner who was found guilty of harassment and jailed for three and a half years in February has gone on hunger strike.

Tom Dignam (72) from Dooish, Ballybofey is only weeks into his prison term at Castlerea Prison.

He is planning to stop drinking fluids from midnight on Friday.


Mr. Dignam was jailed after posting messages on Facebook about a company owner involved in the controversial Strokestown evictions in Co. Roscommon in 2018.

He was sentenced at Letterkenny Circuit Court at the beginning of February after a three-day trial last October at the end of which a jury found him guilty on a unanimous verdict.

Mr. Dignam was not legally represented during the hearing and refused to engage with the court.

During sentencing in February, he refused to sign a bond that would have meant the final 12 months of his sentence being suspended.

When contacted yesterday, a spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service said the service does not comment on individual prisoner cases.

Mr. Dignam has been on hunger strike since 1pm last Friday, March 31 and has been under an increased level of observation.

He has been moved to the prison’s hospital wing and prison officials are monitoring his situation closely.


Mr. Dignam is PRO of the Common Law Information Centre and another member of that group, Michael McGee, said the situation is a cause for grave concern.

“Tom has his own health problems, he suffers from high blood pressure and high cholesterol,” he said.

“He will turn 73 years of age this week.”

The court trial last October heard how the messages posted on social media referred to Aidan Devlin, managing director of Trinity Asset Management Services which is based in Mulhuddart in Co Dublin.

Mr Devlin was involved in the Strokestown evictions after his company was hired by KBC Bank after the bank had bought the 33-acre farm at Falsk from the receiver following a legal battle.

Farmer Michael Anthony McGann, who owned the farm, and his siblings David and Geraldine were removed from the property on foot of a possession order.

Dignam was found guilty following a trial of having posted a number of messages referring to Mr. Devlin and his role in the incident.

Mr. Dignam was charged that between December 10, 2019 and November 2, 2020, he harassed Aidan Devlin by persistently communicating with him by posting messages on Facebook.

During the court hearing, when asked if he understood what was happening, Mr Dignam consistently answered: “I do not understand what is happening”.

The court heard how Mr Dignam was the chairperson and PRO of the Common Law Information Centre, a group involved in helping people in their dealings with the banks as well as the law and their rights.

Passing sentence in February, Judge John Aylmer said that considering Mr Dignam’s age, he was prepared to suspend the final 12 months of the three and a half year sentence if he entered a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour to all the people of Ireland.

However, the accused refused to sign the bond saying “I’m not signing anything…I’m not signing any bond because I’m innocent of the charge.”