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Reno lifts deportation threat against 9 Irish

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

In a move that was widely expected to coincide with President Clinton’s visit to Ireland, the U.S. Justice Department this week terminated deportation proceedings against six Irish nationals.

Attorney General Janet Reno also ordered that no proceedings be taken against three other individuals who were facing likely deportation orders.

The six who are now cleared to remain in the U.S. with their families are Brian Pearson, Gabriel Megahey, Noel Gaynor, Gerald McDade, Robert McErlean and Matthew Morrison.

The three who will not be facing deportation proceedings are Don Mulholland, Kevin Crossan and a third individual not named in a Justice Department release on the grounds that he is a legal permanent resident whose records are covered by the Privacy Act.

The move by the Justice Department on Monday does not cover all the Irish nationals in the U.S. who are facing either potential deportation proceedings or actual proceedings.

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Most notably, the order does not cover the McAllister family of New Jersey and the three H-Block escapees in San Francisco, against whom extradition proceedings were recently dropped by the British government.

In her statement, Reno said that she had been advised by the secretary of state that terminating proceedings against "six aliens who have engaged in activity on behalf of the Irish Republican Army and foregoing proceedings against three others would serve the interests of United States foreign policy by contributing to the course of reconciliation reflected in the Good Friday Accord."

"The Secretary further believes that terminating or foregoing proceedings will encourage constructiveaction by the parties toward a lasting peace at an important juncture in the implementation of that Accord," Reno continued. "I have been informed by the National Security Advisor that he agrees with the secretary’s foreign policy judgment.

"Accordingly, in order to support and promote the process of reconciliation that has begun in Northern Ireland, I have today directed the Immigration and Naturalization Service to offer to terminate deportation proceedings against the six Irish aliens, and to forego proceedings against the three additional aliens."

Reno said that both the secretary of state and national security advisor had requested the action "knowing that each of these aliens is illegally present in the United States or otherwise subject to deportation, and that each has committed crimes that would ordinarily augment the government’s interest in their prompt deportation."

She added that both had requested the exercise of discretion "based on their determination that the very significant foreign policy interests at stake in the Northern Ireland peace process warrant such action.

"I have been advised that the British and Irish governments have been consulted, and that this action parallels their efforts to reintegrate former paramilitary prisoners into society in support of the peace process," Reno concluded.

Reno’s order, on the eve of President Clinton’s visit to Ireland, was welcomed by Clinton.

"I strongly support the attorney general’s decision," Clinton said in a statement.

"All nine individuals had served sentences in the United Kingdom for activity connected with the IRA, but are physically present in the United States.

"While in no way approving or condoning their past criminal acts, I believe that removing the threat of deportation for these individuals will contribute to the peace process in Northern Ireland."

Reacting to the Attorney General’s move, Francie Broderick, wife of deportee and Derry native Matt Morrison, said that the news was a great Christmas present for her family.

"Nobody really knows the emotional toll this kind of ordeal can take," Broderick told the Echo from St. Louis.

Broderick, who had picketed Clinton on his last Irish visit on behalf of her husband and the other deportees, said she hopes the order would eventually extend to all deportees in the U.S.

"Matt is now starting to believe that there is a tomorrow," she said. "The big thing he wants to do is to take our son and daughter to Ireland to show them where he grew up."

New York attorney and rights activist Frank Durkan singled out Clinton’s role in the latest twist to the saga of the deportees.

"None of this would be happening if it wasn’t for Bill Clinton. He made a number of promises back in 1992 and he has kept every one of them," Durkan said.

In a separate development, Kevin Barry Artt, one of the three former extraditees in San Francisco, has filed an application with the United Kingdom Criminal Cases Review Commission seeking to overturn his 1983 conviction for the murder of Albert Miles, deputy governor of the Long Kesh/Maze prison.

Artt is petitioning the CCRC from U.S. soil on the grounds that he fears for his life in Northern Ireland, where, he believes, his name is on a loyalist hit list.

Artt contends that evidence developed in the U.S. shows that RUC officers altered their notes after interrogating him, that his confession was induced and false and that after 19 years of court proceedings in Northern Ireland and the U.S., there was no evidence that he carried out the murder.

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