A former Irish political prisoner who fought deportation for over two decades after fleeing loyalist death threats with his family is believed to have been put on a plane back to Ireland by US authorities.
Belfast man Malachy McAllister, who holds an Irish passport, is expected to arrive on a flight into Dublin later today, Wednesday 10 June.
A spokesperson for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ICE-ERO) confirmed his deportation, and accused him of “terrorism related crime”.
Malachy, now a 62-year-old grandfather, was originally jailed over two attacks by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) on British Crown Forces during the 1981 hunger strikes.
Released in 1985, a subsequent loyalist gun attack on his family home sparked their journey in 1988 to Canada and then the United States, where they lived in New Jersey.
He is originally from the Ormeau Road area in Belfast and has been seeking political asylum in the US for over 24 years.
His wife Bernadette passed away in the US and most of his children and grandchildren still live there.
He is also recovering from injuries suffered while he was cycling at the beginning of June.
A last-minute letter from 15 US senators urging President Trump to allow him to stay in the country was unsuccessful.
Prior to his deportation, Malachy said: “The truth is there is no rhyme nor reason why the Trump Administration has chosen to deport me after 24 years in America.
“In fact last November President Trump suspended my deportation and ordered the White House Chief of Staff Mike Mulvaney (now Special Envoy to Northern Ireland) to resolve my case. This was confirmed in a tweet by Congressman Peter King a long time supporter of mine and the GFA.
“I have proved for the 32 years I have been out of Ireland that we are good people and law-abiding citizens of the world.”
On Tuesday, Malachy handed himself over to Homeland Security for the journey home, leaving behind his family. Prayers were said and bagpipes played as he presented himself for deportation in Newark.
New Jersey senator Bob Menendez slammed the deportation.
“Today is a sad day for the McAllister family and New Jersey’s Irish community,” he said.
“Deporting a community leader who poses no national security or public safety threat is not only a clear injustice, but also contrary to our nation’s values.
“By forcefully deporting Mr McAllister to a place he fled because his life was put in danger, the Trump Administration is showing the immorality of their indiscriminate immigration policies.”
Judge James F. McKay III, President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, said he had learned of the deportation with “profound sadness”.
In a statement, he said: “In this action, we have been forced to say goodbye to a member and a brother; his American born U.S. citizen grandchildren have been deprived of their grandfather, the Northern Ireland Peace Process has lost a voice in America, the U.S. economy has lost an entrepreneur who created two successful tax-paying/job-producing businesses.
“However, the most significant loss of all is that we have lost part of the American legacy of the United States being a refuge from oppression and a land of new beginnings.”