IRA inmates win 'give' on garb

Britain's new minister for Northern Ireland, James Prior, announced that jailed republican guerrillas will be allowed to wear their own clothes under prison reforms following the end of the prisoners' hunger strike.

The announcement met part of the demands for which 10 prisoners belonging to the outlawed Irish Republican Army and its sister organization, the Irish National Liberation Army, starved themselves to death in Belfast's Maze prison over the past seven months.

The British government repeatedly said it would not give them special status as political prisoners or consider specific reforms until the hunger strikes were called off. The strikers abandoned their protest last weekend after relatives intervened, saying they would allow medical treatment to prevent some of the fasting prisoners dying.

Mr. Prior's concessions included allowing prisoners in Northern Ireland to wear their own clothes at all times.

He also said remissions would be restored to all protesting prisoners after they had conformed to prison rules for three months. Prisoners who have lost time off for good behavior -- known as remission -- for joining prison protests during the last five years "may have 20 percent of that lost remission restored after three months of full conformity with prison rules," he said.

On the questions of prison work and free association brought up by the protests, Prior said the hunger strikers' views were not compatible with a prison system, but there was room for development on these issues.

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