McAllister And Deportees Must Get Justice

Martin Galvin has written to the Irish Echo, highlighting the treatment of Irish citizens domiciled in the US but who face the threat of deportation. Martin Galvin is former National Publicity Director of Irish Northern Aid and President of AOH Division 5, Bronx and an attorney who represented four of the Irish political deportees.

A chara,

Signs proclaiming "Please don't deport my daddy!" were once a common sight at Irish rallies. The words meant that the real victims of Irish political deportations would be American children and wives, forced to choose between fathers and husbands or their country. The Irish Echo editorial(Groundhog Year),about the close call for Malachy McAllister, and the petty hardships still visited on Irish deportees after a quarter century, remind us of what is at stake.

Malachy McAllister and all of the Irish political deportees are living examples of Britain's willingness to make political points with Irish victims. Each of these men have multiple grounds which should entitle them or anyone else to fully legal permanent residence under American law. They are hardworking and respected members of the Irish-American community who should be allowed to work, raise their families and on occasion travel to Ireland to visit friends and relatives. They were political prisoners decades ago in a war that is long over.

Instead Malachy McAllister, who has lived in America for decades, is a father and successful businessman, remains under yearly threat of deportation. He narrowly escaped deportation on April 25th.He will have to fight all over next year and in years to come. To paraphrase an old IRA saying, Malachy only has to get unlucky once.

Malachy and all the Irish political deportees are pawns in an old British game of criminalization. Since the British think their right to rule is always legitimate, they think anyone who dares oppose them must be criminals. That was true of the patriots they shot in 1916. That was true of George Washington who himself said to the "Patriots of Ireland" in 1788 "had I failed the scaffold would have been my doom."

As America celebrated its bicentennial in 1976,Britain renewed its policy of criminalization in the infamous H-Blocks of Long Kesh. Political prisoners, among them Bobby Sands, would be told they must dress up in criminal uniforms so that the crown could display them as criminals. They resisted despite Britain's attempts to break them. British policy backfired. In America huge crowds rallied to back the Blanketmen, who would become the Hunger Strikers.

The British decided the American government must be brought on board. Dessie Mackin, a Belfast born Republican in New York to help Irish Northern Aid organize tours by released Blanketmen, was arrested. The British served an Extradition warrant demanding the American federal court hand him over as a criminal. Instead the great civil rights lawyer Frank Durkan put Britain on trial. He won a ruling that Irish Republicans were engaged in a legitimate fight against British rule. The British tried again and failed to extradite Joe Doherty.

They turned to federal deportation courts. A series of Deportation proceedings commenced against former Irish Republican prisoners settled in the United States with American wives and children. It led to years of campaigning, emotional legal fights in packed Immigration Courtrooms, a formal Congressional hearing and even a CBS television documentary.

There were unforgettable moments. Gerry Conlon of the 'Guildford Four' testified about being beaten in vivid terms that went beyond anything in the movie "In the Name of the Father," revealing that if he had ever met Gabriel Megahey, the British would have framed him and made the case the 'Guildford Five.'

Bernadette Devlin McAliskey testified calmly about being shot and severely wounded, but then broke down as she testified about the brutal murder of Kathleen O'Hagan.

Members of Congress and judges testified as well as experts from Ireland.

Almost a quarter-century ago, the Irish political deportee cases were settled by the Clinton administration, upon formal request by Secretary of State Albright to Attorney General Reno.

As the attorney for four of these men, I remember the understandings we were given. The nightmare restrictions and threats would be over. Deportations were halted. They were promised full work authorization, advanced parole for travel to Ireland. It was also thought to be the start of a process, where others including Malachy, would have the door opened for them.

Instead, as you reported, Matt Morrison is confined to two states, his work authorization is withheld and deportation threatened. He is not alone. Others have lost work authorization for months. Deportees have requested to go to Ireland to see gravely ill parents and not gotten travel permission until weeks after their burial. They get detained for hours after returning despite travel permission. Why?

Malachy McAllister, Matt Morrison and all the Irish political deportees were involved in a legitimate armed conflict which is long over. America must not continue to victimize them and their families at Britain's behest!


Martin Galvin

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