Rep. Eliot Engel said that a response he had received from the department to a written appeal he had sent on McAllister’s behalf amounted to “no response at all.”
Engel said is a statement that he could only conclude that the department was ducking the issue
“On June 29 I wrote to the Department of Justice asking Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to use his discretionary power to defer the deportation of Malachy McAllister,” Engel said.
“I finally received a response in a letter dated September 8 from an assistant attorney general that the matter was before the court and Justice Department would not comment. This is not a response.
“This is punting on an issue that has serious implications for the McAllister family. The family was threatened recently by an e-mail signed by the Red Hand Commandoes, a particularly violent paramilitary group,” Engel added.
The McAllister case is currently before the federal court of appeals for the third circuit in Philadelphia but Engel said that Attorney General Gonzalez had discretionary authority to allow the family to stay.
“I again urge him to use this authority and save these people from possible harm or even death. The recent rioting in Belfast shows that Protestant feelings still run high,” Engel said.
PULL THE OTHER ONE
Readers of the Boston Globe were treated to a report on the IRA’s disarming filed by the Associated Press in Belfast.
Those readers familiar with Northern Ireland likely raised an eyebrow when they read the reporter’s name — Paisley Dodds.
Both the first and second name of the reporter can be found among the top leadership of the Democratic Unionist Party — Ian Paisley and Nigel Dodds — which has been the strongest critic of the IRA’s decommissioning process.
GRANDPARENTS FACING EXTRADITION
A Co. Cork couple are facing possible extradition from Ireland because they face a charge of kidnapping their own grandson from the U.S.
The extradition proceeding follows a warrant issued by an Illinois court.
Cobh residents Timothy and Ethel Blake have already made an appearance in the Dublin High Court. They were released on bail but must appear again Oct. 11.
The extradition request results from the couple taking their grandson from his home in Lake County, Illinois.
The Blakes will face a kidnapping charge should they be extradited, and could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
The indictment charges both with the aggravated kidnapping of their grandson Dylan Benwell.
The couple took 9-year-old Dylan back to Ireland in July of 2004 after visiting their daughter Serena Benwell, and her husband, John Benwell, in Winthrop Harbor.
Police investigators have stated that the Blakes carried out a well-planned abduction that included forged documents, disguises, and double airline bookings.
John Benwell, Dylan’s stepfather, is a sailor in the U.S. Navy.
The Blakes previously helped to take care of their grandson after his natural father died.
Serena Benwell, who has five other children, has stated that her parents were obsessed with Dylan. She has accused them of being emotionally unstable. She said she only allowed her parents to visit because her father told her he was dying of cancer and wanted to make amends.
The Blakes have countered in court documents that Dylan had been abused.
The Irish National Caucus has expressed alarm over the International Fund for Ireland allocating the dollar equivalent of quarter of a million pounds sterling to a group linked with the Orange Order.
The grant has been allocated to the Orange Community Network, according to the Washington, D.C.-based INC.
Caucus president Fr. Sean McManus said that the allocation was unacceptable because of the Orange Order’s anti-Catholic bigotry.
“Funding an anti-Catholic organization at any time is bad enough, but at this time it is particularly shocking given that the Orange Order is presently wreaking havoc in Northern Ireland and inciting anti-Catholic bigotry to destroy the Good Friday agreement,” McManus said.
McManus said he had raised the matter with Rep. Joe Crowley, co-chair of the congressional Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs and a leading Capitol Hill supporter of the IFI.
“I had thought the bad old days of American dollars subsidizing anti-Catholic bigotry were over and that the IFI had cleaned up its act. This is a most troubling development,” McManus said.
ONCE MORE WITH…
John O’Hara has lost in court again. But he is refusing to throw in the towel.
The Brooklyn native, who has been barred from voting in elections, previously failed in his bid to have the United States Supreme Court overturn the ban.
But he found a way back into the court system despite what most Americans would consider the last legal word.
He appealed for an entirely new hearing on the grounds that he had been “selectively prosecuted” in the first place.
O’Hara has waged a marathon battle against his 1999 conviction for voting fraud in his native Brooklyn.
He had voted from his girlfriend’s address and not his own home some distance away, during elections in 1992 and ’93.
O’Hara, who ran as a candidate himself, argued that this address, though not his permanent one, was not a false one.
As a result of his voting, O’Hara was prosecuted by the office of District Attorney Charles “Joe” Hynes and ended up a convicted felon.
He was sentenced to five years probation, fined $20,000, disbarred from his law practice and sentenced to perform 1,500 hours of community service.
His community service will end in a few weeks at which point he will no longer have to spend about eight hours each week collecting garbage in a Brooklyn park.
O’Hara’s effort to prove that he was unjustly prosecuted was spurred anew by a Harper’s Magazine report alleging that newly uncovered evidence in the case pointed to “selective” or “malicious” prosecution of O’Hara, who is the first American to be prosecuted and punished for voting fraud since Susan B. Anthony in 1876.
O’Hara believes that his case had set a precedent, one that potentially allows for frivolous or vindictive prosecution of other citizens, specifically for voting while not pledging to one address for a specific period of time.
Based on the Harper’s report, O’Hara filed for the new hearing with the New York court that originally tried his case. His bid for a hearing was successful.
But the same court last week denied his motion to overturn his conviction.
“It was a kick,” said O’Hara. “But I get to appeal.”
Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo
Subscribe to one of our great value packages.