By Ray O’Hanlon
Malachy McAllister has secured legal representation as he faces into a final battle against deportation.
The New York firm of Smith Dornan and Shea has agreed to take on the long-running case of the McAllister family versus the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Echo last week reported that McAllister was facing into a last-ditch legal battle against deportation without an attorney.
McAllister’s former lawyer is no longer working in the field of immigration law.
McAllister, a onetime member of the Irish National Liberation Army who now supports the Northern Ireland peace process, is facing a deadline of Aug. 7 by which time he has to file an appeal against deportation or leave the country.
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In October 2000, a federal immigration judge ordered that McAllister be deported, but in a separate ruling decreed that his wife, Bernadette, and the couple’s four children be allowed asylum in the U.S.
However, the Justice Department immediately appealed that second decision.
The family has battled for years against a return to Ireland because they fear for their lives.
Loyalists fired into the McAllister family home in 1988, an event that prompted the family to flee, first to Canada and later the U.S.
Reinforcing that fear, loyalists last week shot a young Catholic man to death in Belfast, apparently in retaliation for a gun attack against a Protestant claimed by the INLA.
“We don’t have the resources to fight this case. It’s a mammoth case,” McAllister said.
Attorney Eamonn Dornan confirmed that his firm had now been formally retained in the case and that attorney Russell Smith would be the family’s primary legal representative.
“The first thing we will be doing is attempting to secure an extension beyond the Aug. 7 deadline for the filing of an appeal on Malachy’s behalf,” Dornan said.
He said that an appellant brief first required a full reading of the trial transcript in the case and that alone amounted to 3,000 pages.
The new McAllister legal team would also have to closely study the law as it pertained to political asylum, the political-offense exception as it applied in the Joe Doherty case, and the law as it applied to wars and treaties.
The McAllister family’s former lawyer, as well as other attorneys and law students would be assisting Smith Dornan and Shea as the case progressed, Dornan said.