McAllister unable to attend family funeral
McAllister unable to attend family funeral

The family of a former republican PoW, who is fighting deportation from the US, say he is devastated at being unable to attend his father’s funeral in Belfast.

Malachy McAllister, a former member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), fled Belfast with his young family in 1988 after unionist paramilitaries fired 26 shots into his lower Ormeau home.

He is fighting a Supreme Court of Appeal decision to deport him and his three younger children back to the Six Counties from New Jersey.

His father Robert died suddenly on Monday after a short illness. The funeral of the 76-year-old father-of-eight take place yesterday.

Mr McAllister’s eldest son Gary arrived in Belfast from America on Tuesday to attend his grandfather’s funeral. He is the only member of the family with recognised immigration status.

“My dad is obviously very upset at the loss of his father and the fact he can’t be here to pay his respects,” Gary said.

“He’s been on the phone to check my flight got in safe and to speak to the rest of the family. He’s just grieving and feels helpless at not being able to be here for his mother.”

It is the second tragedy to hit the family in the last two years. In 2004 Mr McAllister’s wife Bernie died of cancer in America.

Bernie -- along with the couple’s three younger children -- had been given leave to stay in the

But after her death the family’s status was again called into question.

Mr McAllister’s original application for citizenship was unsuccessful because of a 1983 conviction for acting as a lookout during an INLA attack on an RUC officer.

He was released from Long Kesh in 1985 and after the loyalist gun attack on his home fled with his family to Canada and then to the US.

His mother, Ellen McAllister, says her son’s greatest fear was that something would happen to one of his parents while he was still unable to travel.

“Malachy and the children have built their lives in America. He has his own business there and the children know no other life,” she said.

“Because of all this he hadn’t seen his father in 20 years.

“I last saw him two years ago when his wife Bernie died and I went over and stayed with him for a while.

“We all know his thoughts are with us. It’s just so sad that he can’t be here in person.”

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