A former republican prisoner who has been living in the USA for two decades is facing deportation back to Northern Ireland next week.
Malachy McAllister, who was sentenced to nearly four years in jail back in 1981 for his involvement with the INLA, has said he is preparing his family to leave their home in New Jersey on an order from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Speaking to the New York-based Irish Voice newspaper, Mr McAllister – who has been fighting deportation for years – said: “I’m spent, just spent.”
Political efforts are still being made on Mr McAllister’s behalf, led by Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Peter King of New York, but Congress is on recess until Monday and the DHS order of deportation is set for next Tuesday.
The head of the Catholic Church in New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, has also been making efforts on McAllister’s behalf.
Earlier this month, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, from South Carolina, had asked the DHS to postpone the deportation of Mr McAllister for another six months, but DHS denied the request.
Mr McAllister, a native of Belfast who has lived in New Jersey for two decades with his children, left his home after it was attacked with gunfire by loyalists in 1988.
His quest for political asylum has been in the US courts for more than 20 years. He claims that since leaving Northern Ireland he’s been a staunch supporter of the peace process, including the Belfast Agreement and the leadership of Sinn Fein.
Mr McAllister runs a masonry business in New Jersey and opened Wolfe Tone’s Irish Pub and Kitchen in Manhattan.
He said he is fearful of returning to Northern Ireland because of the threat of loyalist violence against him.
“I am absolutely afraid. It’s like I’ll have a red target on my back,” he told the Irish Voice.
A statement issued this week on Mr McAllister’s behalf said: “Irish America has just marked the 21st anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and with the countdown under way to Malachy’s deportation the DHS hasn’t acknowledged the goodwill and work that has been put into the peace agreement by the Irish American community and Malachy McAllister, who has worked tirelessly for peace in Northern Ireland.”
The statement also said that the DHS order “doesn’t just impact Malachy’s life”, adding: “Two of his children, Nicola and Sean’s, immigration status is still unresolved. Malachy has a seven-year-old American-born son Cadán whom is in first grade, and grandchildren born in the US.
“DHS should seriously consider the full concurring statement and request by the president’s own sister, former 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, when she pleaded with the attorney general to let the McAllister family stay in the US.”