Deported Brennan weighs options

West Belfast Long Kesh escapee Pol Brennan said it is a “bittersweet” feeling for him to be back on Irish soil after his deportation from the US at the weekend.

The Ballymurphy man arrived in Shannon airport on Friday morning in a United States Homeland Security plane following 19 months spent in US jails.

He was arrested at a border checkpoint in Texas in 2008 because his US work permit had expired. A lengthly legal battle to have his deportation rule overturned failed last week.

Pol described his relief at finally being free from jail but remained concern for his wife and family back in the US.

“It’s good to be here but it’s a bittersweet feeling,” he said.

“It’s good to see my family and friends, but obviously I am thinking of my wife and how this is for her. We have family commitments back in Texas that she needs to sort out before she can do anything.

“It has been emotional having my family and friends coming to see me and I’m sure I will have a lot more (visitors) in the coming weeks.”

Pol described his long flight back to Ireland - he was kept in shackles for the duration of the journey on a US military plane.

“It was very uncomfortable because I was shackled and it wasn’t a commercial plane so it was freezing. It was like a refrigerator and I couldn’t even feel my legs. It was a relief to have landed. I have spent the last year and a half in Texan jails where the temperature has gone up sometimes into triple figures. So when I landed and saw the rain I knew I was home,” he laughed.

The Belfast man said he is still “looking at legal options” before he takes his next step, but said he has been heartened by the support of friends in Ireland and the United States.

“I made a lot of friends over there and have had a lot of support both here and America. A lot of people backed my cause and I am grateful for their support.”

Brennan, along with 37 other republican prisoners, escaped from Long Kesh prison in 1983.

It is expected that he will not return to the Six Counties immediately but instead will stay in the 26 while he considers his options.

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