Another convicted Provisional Irish Republican Army member went on hunger strike today in the Maze Prison in British-ruled Northern Ireland to press the IRA's demand that convicted Irish terrorists be given political-prisoner status.
The outlawed group, meanwhile, announced it had "breached" royal security by planting a bomb at the oil terminal at Sullom Voe in the shetland Islands off northern Scotland, where Queen Elizabeth II was scheduled to preside at dedication ceremonies. A search of the facility turned up nothing, however, and the queen went ahead.
Joseph McDonnell, 30, today joined three other Maze inmates who continue to refuse food despite the death last week of IRA member Bobby Sands after a 66-day fast. Francis Hughes, 27, a convicted murderer, has not eaten for 55 days. Raymond MacCreesh, convicted of attempted murder, and Patrick O'Hara, convicted of possession of a hand grenade, have been on hunger strike for 49 days.Both are 24.
McDonnell was arrested along with Sands and two other men in 1976 after an IRA attack on a Belfast furniture store and a gun battle with police. Like Sands, McDonnell, who is married with two children, was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
His replacement of Sands on the hunger strike emphasizes the determination of the Provisional IRA and its Irish nationalist supporters to continue the confrontation with the British government, which remains equally determined not to grant the demands.
The stalemate is expected to increase tensions in Northern Ireland where rioting in urban Roman Catholic neighborhoods has escalated again this weekend. Hundreds of teen-agers and children in Belfast and Londonerry have hijacked and burned vehicles and built barricades blocking access to Catholic neighborhoods to attract the attention of the security forces. They then attacked them with stones and hundreds of fire and acid bombs made out of home-delivery milk bottles.
The Provisional IRA and rival nationalist terrorist groups also have stepped up their guerrilla attacks on police and British Army patrols. Police and soliders have been fired on in both cities and in rural areas along the border with the Republic of Ireland, where an Army and police base came under a morter attack early this morning claimed by the Provisional IRA. Several soldiers have been injured in the attacks, including one seriously hurt today in an ambush in Belfast. A teen-ager also was wounded by police fire during rioting in Belfast.
A police officer killed in a terrorist ambush in Belfast earlier this week was buried today. The victim, Philip Ellis, was a Scot who had moved to Northern Ireland to live with his wife, whom he met while serving as a British soldier in the province three years ago.
In another part of Belfast, James Powers, 21, a member of the extreme leftist Irish National Liberation Army who was killed Wednesday when the bomb he was carrying exploded, was buried with full "military honors."
The Provisional IRA and other militant Irish nationalists have sought to widen their support among Northern Ireland's Catholic minority and abroad with sympathy for the hunger strikes. While rioting has not spread beyond gangs of young people, a number of observers, including moderate Catholic community workers, have said they believe Sands' death had significantly increased antagonism in strongly nationalist Catholic ghettos toward British rule of the majority Protestant province.
Northern Ireland secretary Humphrey Atkins said this week that the British government has been and would continue to be flexible in relaxing rules for all Ulster prisoners but will not give the convicted terrorists what he said they want, "to be recognized as a different class of prisoner."
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher reiterated in a speech last night that her government would commit "whatever resources are necessary" to combat violence in Northern Ireland. She said the security forces were reacting "patiently, for we shall not be provoked into overreaction."
Gerry Adams, vice president of Provisional Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, said in Belfast yesterday, "I think it is reasonable to assume that at some point the IRA will make a respone" to Sands' death.