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Congressman demands answers on detention

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

“We’re not going to take this lightly. We’re not going to allow a going back to the bad old days,” the New York Democrat said.
Engel’s anger over the detention of Mackin, who is now a U.S. citizen, mirrored similar condemnation of the arrest by Irish-American political activists.
Engel, who was Mackin’s congressman until redistricting separated the voter from the representative, said he had marched with Mackin and his family just a few weeks ago in the Pearl River St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“I was shocked when I heard what had happened,” Engel said.
Engel said that he had immediately called both the State Department and the British embassy in Washington.
“I thought it important not to sweep this under the rug. If they wanted to return to the bad old days, I wasn’t going to let then do it quietly,” Engel said.
“The thing that most irked me is that Sean Mackin has gone back and forth to Northern Ireland many times and there was no hint of this. And there was no raising of a 1983 murder in his asylum hearings, Engel said in reference to reports that Mackin was questioned about the murder of police reservist Colin Carson, who was gunned down in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, that year.
Rep. Joe Crowley, a co-chair of the congressional Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs, said in a statement that he had contacted the U.S. Consulate in Belfast as soon as he had heard of Mackin’s arrest.
The arrest was “utterly outrageous,” Crowley said, citing that Mackin had gained political asylum in the U.S. based on his fear of being killed by loyalists.
“His fears of persecution still ring true when he cannot visit family in Belfast without being subjected to harassment and detainment by the PSNI,” Crowley said.
“While the PSNI is supposedly the ‘new face of policing in Northern Ireland,’ the arrest of Sean Mackin, after he has been granted asylum and U.S. citizenship, shows that the police force is still targeting republicans based on their political leanings.”
Irish-American political activists, meanwhile, were quick to draw a link between the arrest of Mackin and the recent row over policing in Northern Ireland that followed an op-ed page ad in the New York Times that was taken out on behalf of Sinn F

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