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INS agents snatch RSF member

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Patrick Markey

A member of Republican Sinn Fein who had entered the United States to take part in a dinner in New York City was taken into custody last week by agents from the federal Immigration and Naturalization Services.

Phil Kent, an Irish national and a longtime Republican who lives in Canada, was arrested on Thursday afternoon by five INS agents who entered the Long Island home where he was staying, according to officials and RSF associates in the United States.

Republican Sinn Fein has been linked to the Continuity IRA and its members are staunch opponents of the Good Friday peace agreement, which they have criticized as a partitionist solution to Northern Ireland’s problems.

A spokesman for the INS confirmed the arrest. Kent was taken into custody and is now facing removal proceedings, said Mark Thorne, a spokesman for the INS New York regional office. Thorne said Kent was taken into custody because he had entered the United States without inspection. The spokesman had no further information on why Kent was arrested, how he had entered the United States or how agents tracked him to Long Island.

James Cullen, a New York attorney who is representing Kent, said his client is currently being held in Varick Street Detention Center and he expected a bail hearing within the next week.

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One colleague who was with Kent in the Long Island house where he was arrested said four plainclothes agents came through the front door, while another waited outside. They asked Kent if he had a weapon and then handcuffed him, said Ray Clarke, in whose North Port house Kent was staying.

"As far as I know, he was visiting for a few days to go to the dinner and that was it," Clarke said.

Kent was visiting to attend last Saturday night’s Michael Flannery Memorial Dinner, an affair sponsored by the Irish Freedom Committee and held at Rory’s Dolan’s.

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