Family in U.S. case get death threat

The McAllister family, currently fighting a deportation battle to stay in the U.S., have received a threat allegedly from the Red Hand Commandos, the loyalist organization which in October 1988 carried out a gun attack on their home on the Lower Ormeau Road in South Belfast. The attack forced them to flee the country and come to North America.

The threat came in an e-mail to an Irish-American newspaper which read: ``Thanks for keeping us up to date on the Fenian bastards (McAllister family) we look forward to seeing them in the very near future we wont miss the next time.''

It was signed ``billy boy RHC''.

Malachy McAllister is awaiting the outcome of an appeal against deportation, which is before the Third Circuit Court of Appeal in the U.S..

On Dec. 17, his wife, Bernadette, and their four children received a stay of deportation, which expires within 10 days. Unless a further stay is granted, they face imminent deportation.

``I'm not sure what they have to gain from this,'' said McAllister's lawyer Eamonn Dornan. He said that while it was difficult to authenticate such threats, ``It's clear that there are loyalist groupings who aren't on ceasefire.''

Malachy McAllister said that he thought that it was possible that the threat was inspired by the publicity that he and his family have been receiving as a result of the deportation battle in recent weeks.

``99.9 percent of the publicity has been positive,'' he said. ``Maybe it stirs their memories. If it's only a prank, that's well and good.''

However, McAllister remains deeply worried about the volatile situation among loyalist paramilitaries in Belfast. He is concerned too that his family may well remain a target because of his brother Rabbie's involvement in a series of murders of leading loyalists back in the 1980s, for which he served a life sentence, as a member of the Irish National Liberation Army.

``We're very tensed up,'' McAllister said. ``It seems to be never ending.''

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© 2004 Irish Republican News