By Anthony McIntyre
(from the Blanket)
Malachy McAllister, or `Mock' as we knew him was a close childhood friend; one of those types that made youngsters not related by way of family consider becoming blood brothers through cutting hands and letting the blood mingle. We never got to that stage, thinking it a better demonstration of our fidelity to each other to share in the spilling of the blood from the heads of some loyalist kids from the Donegall Pass Tartan gang, achieved with a few well-aimed stones. For my sins the Tartan aimed better and split my own, leaving me stitched and sore. Looking back, it was all childhood nonsense but it was how we gave meaning to our world. Mates were mates and loyalty to each other was a big factor in our lives. That was before the opposite sex stopped looking gawky and it suddenly seemed better to have a girl than a blood brother. Chasing no longer meant pursuing the Tartan.
But until the intervention of the opposite sex we lived what we thought was a Tom Sawyer type of life - troublesome and adventurous but never really dangerous. We drank the cider together, played football and handball, fought each other, rioted with the Brits and cops - everything that many others of a young teenage subculture become immersed in as they sail through those often turbulent formative years. And of course we ended up in jail together - he as a member of the INLA and myself a volunteer in the Provisional IRA. He arrived in the jail about six years after me, having married Bernie before he heard the cell door clang behind him. It was good to see him again although not so good to see him under such circumstances.
Mock was released from jail in the mid-1980s. I thought his troubles were over, or at least the worst of them. But things just didn't work out so easily. In October 1988 loyalists, rearmed and directed by the British, launched a gun attack on his home. Neither he nor Bernie were there. But Bernie's mother was minding the couple's children. All were lucky that none of the 25 rounds fired found their target. A short time later Mock and Bernie learned that the guns used to attack their family had been recovered in a loyalist area along with personal details of Mock which came from British State security force files.
Shortly after that he fled to Canada and then on to New Jersey, where a federal judge found that Bernadette and the children had suffered ``severe persecution''. Three years ago a US judge, while ordering the deportation of Mock on the grounds of his previous conviction, granted asylum to Bernie, finding that she had `suffered extreme past persecution based on her religion, her political opinion, and because she is Malachy McAllister's wife.'
Now we learn that Mock is the subject of a manhunt instigated by the Department of Homeland Security (``DHS''), under the authority of Attorney General John Ashcroft. According to legal representative Russell Smith the DHS `defying a ruling from the United States Court of Appeals' has laid siege to the family's home.
On November 19th, Bernie McAllister and her children, Sean and Nicola, were about to celebrate Thanksgiving in the New Jersey town of Wallington when she learned that she and her four children were to be stripped of their political asylum status and would be deported back to Belfast within 30 days. 20 DHS agents congregated outside their front door. Although their 26-year-old son Gary is married to an American citizen he too has been included in the deportation order. The two youngest children have no memory of Belfast and are said to be terrified that they will be shot if compelled to return to the city.
According to Russell Smith:
``Despite the fact that the Court of Appeals immediately issued a temporary stay of removal pending its decision on this case, the DHS remains staked out at the McAllister home and continues, unlawfully, to treat Malachy McAllister as a `fugitive' from the very removal order which the Court has stayed!''
Both Russell Smith and the Ancient Order of Hibernians of which Mock is a member, have called on concerned bodies and individuals to make their views known to John Ashcroft. The family also has support from Irish American Unity Conference and many Congressional leaders. Ancient Order of Hibernians National President Ned McGinley pledged a ``supreme effort'' on the part of the AOH throughout the U.S. in an effort to halt the deportation.
This harassment is not an isolated event but is part of a developing pattern. In the past year we have saw the expulsion from the US of Bernadette McAliskey; the detention of former republican prisoner Ciaran Ferry who had married a US citizen and was living in the country with both her and their child; the deportation of John Eddie McNicholl. A cold wind is blowing through the country, shaking down anybody who may be considered `undesirable'. Human considerations are being trampled under the juggernaut of national security.
Malachy McAllister asked, `what is the purpose of going after me ... what does it solve?' John Ashcroft knows. But he doesn't care. A trenchant supporter of government strategies that lead to the slaughter of Israeli, Palestinian and Iraqi children, why would he display sensitivity for kids from the backstreets of Belfast?