The US Supreme Court has declined to hear the asylum application of a Belfast man Malachy McAllister fighting his deportation from the US to the North of Ireland.
McAllister fled Belfast with his family 18 years ago after loyalists sprayed his house with gunfire.
Lawyers for the former INLA man said his legal challenge has now been exhausted and they must find a political solution to stop the deportation of McAllister and his two children, Nicola and Sean.
The Supreme Court declined to hear the case after the Third Circuit of the US Court of Appeals refused the McAllisters’ asylum application, which was based on the belief that they could face an attack by unionist paralimitaries on their return.
While one member of the appeal court had strongly backed the McAllisters’ fight to stay in the US but said she could not find a legal remedy to their cause, the other two judges had been strongly opposed to allowing the McAllisters to stay.
With the Supreme Court announcement this week, the family’s lawyer, Eamonn Dornan, said the family’s hopes now lay with special legislation being introduced into the US Congress by New Jersey congressman Steve Rothman.
Mr Dornan said the new Democratic majority in Congress may help the family’s cause. The case has been a high-profile one for Irish Americans and some New York and New Jersey members of Congress.