Category: Archive

Inside File Kevin Crossan: the forgotten man

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

The last time Kevin Crossan got a letter from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, it curtly informed him that the next note in the mail would include instructions as to how he could depart the United States — permanently. Crossan’s American-born wife, Joyce, didn’t appear to be part of this bold plan for the future. The INS hasn’t forgotten Kevin Crossan but in many respects he is the forgotten man of the group known as "the deportees." Most of the deportees have been granted some measure of relief — their cases have been suspended although not completely scrapped — but Crossan remains in an even deeper kind of limbo. He doesn’t even have the certainty of court proceedings to plan his daily life around.

Crossan, a 46-year-old Belfast native has been married to Joyce for eight years. He has labor certification and a social security number. But he doesn’t have a greencard and can’t travel outside the U.S. while confident of being allowed back in.

"I was never as high profile as the others and they may have forgotten me," Crossan told IF."

The "they" is the U.S. government. Of course, the government hasn’t forgotten Kevin Crossan. But at the same time he is not one of the group of seven deportees whose cases have been publicly suspended. He is not on "the list."

"It’s very frustrating. We can’t make plans, buy a house. I wish they would just leave us alone. We’re not a threat to this country."

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Crossan, as with the other deportees, supports the IRA cease-fire. He is a former member himself. He served 16 years as internee and prisoner in the H-Blocks. It seems, in some respects, like a million years ago. But Crossan’s past is still determining his present. And it may yet frustrate his future

Right now, Crossan’s more immediate concern is finding steady work. It would help if he could tell a potential employer that he would definitely be around the day after getting the job. But under the current circumstances, Crossan can’t give such guarantees. He envies even those other deportees who can only say that their lives in America are on hold. Kevin Crossan, at this point, can’t even say that.

The MacBride files

Oistin MacBride should have been at the airport welcoming the Patten Commission. MacBride, after all, is something of an expert when it comes to the RUC. the New-York based photographer recently traveled back to his native Magherafelt, Co. Derry to testify before the commission. It was a raucous affair with much of the usual childish behavior from various unionists, not least the Rev. Willie McCrea who once publicly named MacBride, wrongfully, as an IRA member. MacBride’s life was threatened twice after that. He reckons Rev. Willie got a whiff of his RUC file. Not surprising given the fact that singing Willie was able to quote from it, even pointing out typographical errors. MacBride has submitted 78 of his photographs to the commission. The lads in bottle green, needless to say, feature heavily. MacBride says that he and the rest of his family have been arrested by the force roughly 100 times between them. The family has secured 13 successful prosecutions for wrongful arrest, assault and illegal entry and there are several still pending. One case goes back nine years. As far as the MacBrides of Magherafelt are concerned, a little reform of the wee North’s 5-O can’t come quickly enough.

Nouveau nomenclature

Time was when the best job description an IRA man could expect in the press around these parts was "guerrilla." Gunman was next up the chain of opprobrium but "terrorist" would be the word that journalists would generally reach for when describing a Provo. But peace has its rewards. The New York Times weekly TV listings last week contained a brief blurb on the Harrison Ford/Brad Pitt movie, "The Devil’s Own," which was showing on HBO. Pitt — who the New York Post slagged off recently because the Provo character he played in the film fell rather short of the cardboard cutout psycho favored in Postland — was singled out in the Times blurb for his playing the role of an IRA "operative." In another couple of years, assuming continued peace, we will probably be reading about IRA associates, or customer service department representatives. "Coming your way soon, ‘The Devil’s Advocate,’ a thrill-a-minute screen scorcher about the daily lives and loves of IRA community outreach personnel. PG 5."

Cardinal wisdom

A few years back, Cardinal Cahal Daly was touring the U.S. with leaders of the other three main churches in Ireland. At a press conference in New York it was strongly suggested that Daly was hostile to the MacBride Principles. Daly took umbrage. "We are not opposed to the MacBride Principles," he retorted. It wasn’t altogether clear at the time whether the "we" was the Catholic Church in Ireland or the combination represented at the gathering: Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist. But a clearer indication of Daly’s feelings towards MacBride emerges in his just published autobiography, "Steps On My Pilgrim Journey." Daly, now retired, writes: "Also hurtful were allegations that I had gone to the United States on several occasions, under the auspices of the British government, to lobby and to campaign against the MacBride Principles on fair employment. These allegations were false and absurd. I always thought that the British government was foolish to campaign against the MacBride Principles. I never had or took any position on the Principles, but always urged that they should be linked with efforts to secure more investment for the creation of new jobs."

Long John

John Hume has lots to talk about. The "Irish Prime Minister who talked the Irish into signing a peace accord" — the New York Post’s "Page Six" description of the man — was in New York last week to speak at an event hosted by author and philanthropist Tina Santi Flaherty whose latest gift to the world is a book entitled "Talk Your Way to the Top." Tina clearly has no idea about the difficulties posed by talk in the wee North. Anyway, the event was an opportunity for some of the world’s supposedly top talkers — Hume included — to go through their paces. But each top talker had only two minutes. Hume, however, was having none of it. He talked for nine minutes and was still warmly applauded. "He was exceeding his two minutes. That’s what I was conscious of," Hume’s wife Pat told the New York Times, a paper which at least got Hume’s job description right. "IF" wasn’t invited to this great yak-in. Well, enough said!

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