- 14 Nov 17
A former teacher and published author has been on hunger strike since 24th of October in an effort to receive a pension and to highlight her plight following accusations of being involved in the infamous Northern Bank robbery.
Some days prior to going on hunger strike, Kathryn Nelson sent a letter to the Taoiseach outlining the reasons why she felt obliged to take such drastic action.
Now the elderly woman, who lives in Clough, Ballacolla, Co Laois, has been on hunger strike for 21 days and counting.
And one former government minister, Joe Costello fears that "her health is such that she could not possibly survive such a prolonged period without food now".
This is not the first time Kathryn has gone on hunger strike. Kathryn spent 56 days on hunger strike previously in 2007 in protest against the delay in processing her case.
The reasons outlined in her letter for the dramatic hunger strike include claims of wrongful arrest for alleged involvement in the Northern Bank robbery in 2004, subsequent claims of libel and the delay of nearly six years in having her "name cleared" through the courts.
Other reasons she outlines in the emotional letter include the loss of her employment, the subsequent loss of her reputation during that period and her inability to earn a living subsequently.
To make matters worse, her application for an old age pension is now "bogged down in bureaucracy" and her health is poor.
She has no income in her twilight years and now may be unable even to pay her rent past the month of December.
Her life and career, she claims, were ruined as a result of her arrest for a crime she did not commit. Her book 'A Terrible State', published in 2012, relates the tragic story of how those experiences destroyed her life.
A former government minister, Joe Costello is now urging the Taoiseach to respond to her letter.
"Overwhelmed by the accumulation of setbacks and hardships in recent years she feels she has no other choice but to go on hunger strike now," Joe Costello tells us.
"Her health is such that she could not possibly survive such a prolonged period without food now.
"I am calling on the Taoiseach to respond to the letter sent to him by Kathryn Nelson, a proud Irish woman, and to act urgently to address the grievances which has caused her to go on hunger strike."