A Belfast republican has said the US government has “thrown a wrench” into the Good Friday Agreement after he was deported after more than twenty years.
Malachy McAllister (pictured, centre) spoke out days after he was put on a flight to Ireland by officials from the US Department of Homeland Security in New Jersey last Wednesday. He handed himself over to officials the day before.
He has already begun efforts to return to the US to be reunited with his children, who are now left without a parent. Mr McAllister’s wife, Bernadette, passed away in 2004.
Mr McAllister, a former political prisoner, had his home raked with gunfire in a loyalist paramilitary attack in 1988. Prominent loyalist Winston ‘Winkie’ Rea has since been charged with his attempted murder in a case still ongoing at Belfast Magistrates Court.
During his time in the US, Mr McAllister has been a strong supporter of the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement, but the South Belfast man said that US President Donald Trump had taken a “different direction”.
“At this stage he wanted to make a statement,” he said. “In this respect they threw a wrench into the works in deporting me.”
He said that during his time abroad he led a trouble free life. “It’s 32 years since I left Ireland, that’s a long time,” he said. “During those 32 years I have not committed one single crime in the countries I was in.”
He said that he had been forced to part from children and grandchildren and that the entire episode has been stressful.
“Everyone has been under stress for a number of years but in particular for the last four years,” he said.
“You are going day to day, week to week. It certainly was at a point where I had to seek medical and psychological attention because of the stress placed on me.”
He said that being forced to return to the north of Ireland with the potential for future political upheaval meant he has had to again consider his personal security.
“Should there be any unrest in the foreseeable future with Brexit I would be extremely concerned about my circumstances and that I would be targeted.”
Mr McAllister told the Belfast-based Irish News that he remains hopeful that he will be reunited with his family in America.
“I am going to persevere and I hope at some point in the future I will be allowed to visit them,” he said.
“That’s the end of the second chapter, now I am into the third chapter and we will see what happens.”
The Irish American Unity Conference described his deportation as “a disgrace to the America which we know and hold dearly.”
They said his ordeal “represents nothing less than a callous disregard of what America should stand for and the ideal it represents to so many Irish people and others who need our help.”
Prominent AOH member Martin Galvin said there have already been calls for the decision to deport to be reversed.
“Malachy has multiple grounds which should have entitled him to a full legal permanent residence under American law,” he said.