Discrimination over IRA convictions is ‘transgenerational’

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The children of some former IRA Volunteers are being barred from entering the United States because of their parents’ background.

Jim Donnelly, who was released under the Good Friday peace Agreement over 20 years ago, said his teenage son was rejected for a visa as a result of his role in the armed struggle.

Mr Donnelly told the BBC’s Talkback programme his 15-year-old son was “extremely disappointed” when his temporary visa was rejected.

“I was in prison before he was born,” said Mr Donnelly. “A 15 year old who happens to have a father who was involved in a conflict 22 years ago - is that fair?” he asked.

“It politicises young people when they then begin to ask: ‘Why was I rejected?’ My son has been denied over something that happened before he was born.”

Sinn Féin’s Carál Ní Chuilín, who spent four years in jail, said her youngest son is also one of those who have had issues entering the US.

She said he had been successful in getting through the clearance process, the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). However, when he got to check-in he was told he was “barred”.

Her son then went to US Consulate where he was asked questions about his mother, she said.

Sinn Féin’s Niall Ó Donnghaile said the US government had played a central role in “ensuring the delivery” of the Good Friday Agreement, but the failure to address discrimination against young people whose parents or grandparents have conflict-related convictions was “a failure to fully realise the spirit and the practical implementation” of the 1998 peace deal.

He said he had written to the Good Friday Agreement Implementation Committee of the Dublin parliament, asking it to “engage with the US Embassy” about the situation.

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