by Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
FFAI ISSUES UPDATE
A- Six month deportation reprieve for Malachy McAllister-Less than 48 hours before his scheduled deportation, Senators and Congressmen supporting Malachy McAllister were told that Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan would grant a six month stay. Belfast born Hibernian and key member of the AOH National FFAI Committee, Malachy McAllister was scheduled to be deported on April 30th, after 23 years, in America. He was ordered deported because he had been jailed as a Republican political prisoner for his alleged role in an attack on the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The reprieve, achieved after intense campaigning led by National President Jim McKay and Treasurer Sean Pender, will end in six months without legalization before the deadline. Malachy McAllister had fled to America after a British agent led loyalist attack on his home. He became, as Senator Chuck Schumer described, “a valued member of the Irish American community who has done nothing but productive things since seeking asylum following an assassination attempt on him and his family.”
Because he arrived in America after the original list of Irish political deportee cases, he was omitted from the cases settled by Clinton’s Attorney General Janet Reno in 1997.Ironically the immigration judge who denied McAllister’s claim for asylum in 2000,was current President Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump Barry. She implored the Attorney General to use his discretion to allow the McAllister family to stay in America. McAllister has had his deportation stayed multiple times in response to Senate and Congressional bills. Senator Lindsay Graham as head of the Judiciary Committee made a request for Malachy to be granted a six month stay but DHS refused. This refusal was followed by Congressional and Senate campaigning for Malachy, helped by the Irish government and Cardinal Dolan. Senators Schumer and Menendez, along with Congressmen Engel, Pascrell, King, Smith and Neal were in the forefront of a bipartisan effort. McAllister had to submit an airplane ticket to Ireland to DHS on April 15th and was making final preparations for his family when Senators and Congressmen were notified that McAleenan would give the six month stay. This is a temporary reprieve not a permanent solution. AOH Immigration and FFAI are working with other Irish American groups get a permanent legal status for Malachy. A possibility, suggested by AOH Immigration Chair Dan Dennehy would be a “TRIG Exemption,” exempting the actions for which Malachy was imprisoned from barring him from staying in America. His acts were part of a conflict that ended more than 21 years ago. Terrorism Related Inadmissibility Grounds (TRIG) can be exempted for the Irish conflict by the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security in consultation with the Attorney General.
B–New Stormont Talks follow tragic Derry death-British Prime Minister Theresa May and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadker made a joint statement setting up new talks to restart the Stormont Assembly, dormant since January 9,2017. The announcement came after both heads of government attended the funeral of respected young journalist Lyra McKee, along with many Irish party leaders. Ms. McKee had been tragically killed in Derry by members of the New IRA ,who had fired at the PSNI constabulary during rioting. Her death inspired an outpouring of grief and anger and an emotional appeal at her funeral by Fr. Martin Magill. Stormont collapsed after the late Martin McGuinness resigned over the refusal of First Minister Arlene Foster to stand aside during an inquiry into the Renewable Heat Initiative scandal. Last year an apparent DUP-Sinn Fein agreement collapsed on Valentine’s Day 2018,when the DUP reneged on a compromise proposal allowing an Irish language Act along lines of similar measures in Scotland and Wales. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney held a follow-up press conference with British Secretary Karen Bradley. Some of the difficulties with talks immediately surfaced. DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr. demanded that Dublin should “butt-out” if they want to see talks succeed while members of the Ulster Unionist Party complained that “Dublin seem to be getting more information than we are.”
C-May gets Halloween extension to avoid “no deal” Brexit- The European Union granted Britain’s plea for more time before its exit from the European Union. Brexit, set for March 29th was given a new deadline of October 31st. The postponement allows Britain six additional months to avoid a “no deal” Brexit, without any trade or customs agreements. May was forced to ask the EU for a more time after Westminster voted down her 599 page Withdrawal Agreement with the EU. The EU is not expected to redo this agreement, reached only after lengthy negotiations. She requested a longer postponement but the EU granted 6 months. May is now in talks with the opposition Labour Party to get votes for her Withdrawal Agreement. “Brexiting” after May 22nd will require Britain to elect candidates to the European Parliament. Britain could also cancel Brexit by revoking their Article 50 withdrawal notice. May faces continued calls to step down. Brexit threatens economic disaster for Ireland. The Withdrawal Agreement, included a “backstop” to avoid a disastrous hard border across Ireland. Brexiteers within Prime Minister Theresa May’s Tory Party, joined with the DUP, to oppose the “backstop” or safety net that would have only begun if a full trade agreement was not reached by the end of 2020.
D-Threat to bring Britain to a standstill over trooper charges- With as many as 200 former British Army troopers and Royal Ulster Constabulary members now under investigation for Troubles’ murders, former troopers are now threatening to bring Britain and the north to a standstill unless Westminster gives them an amnesty. The threats were made at a rally outside Belfast City Hall, called in support of the single British paratrooper charged for the Bloody Sunday murders. The rally was attended two DUP MPs Jeffrey Donaldson and Gavin Robinson. Donaldson called investigations of British troopers a “witch hunt”. Meanwhile Tory back-benchers are now preparing a bill for an amnesty in the form of a statute of limitations to include Troubles killings in the north along with killings in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time the mother of a Derry child shot dead by the RUC with a plastic bullet in 1981, has been told that the file on her 15 year old son will be sealed until 2059. Helen Whitters appealed to British Secretary Bradley to open her son Paul Whitters’ file now saying that “I will not be alive and no one who actually knew Paul will be alive” in 2059. Also the Ballymurphy Massacre Inquest heard testimony from a trooper who had married a woman from Ballymurphy and was in the area on leave. He said British troopers made up “ghost gunmen” to justify opening fire. He had been threatened by a British Army Captain, called a traitor and assaulted at his home by members of the Parachute Regiment to silence him. The inquest continues.
MARK THOMPSON-MARK McGOVERN BOOK LAUNCH TOUR
Mark Thompson and Professor Mark McGovern are launching a new book COLLUSION- COUNTERINSURGENCY in NORTHERN IRELAND in May and are planning to do an American launch from June 1st to June 10th. This groundbreaking book will put the lie to the claim that Britain forces were responsible for only about only 10% of the north’s killings and expose how they armed, directed, paid and protected their loyalist agents to carry out hundreds of killings then denied any blame. They have asked AOH help to plan and organize this tour.
I have a personal interest in the book because my close friend Liam Ryan, who lived near me in the Bronx and was murdered at the Battery Bar in Ardboe, (a site visited during the FFAI tour) is one of the cases of collusion included in the book.
I am asking for your ideas and help to set up the most effective schedule for them including book launch venues-political support-colleges-embassy receptions etc along with events where we can bring in people and help defer expenses.
FFAI TOUR-CHRISTMAS APPEAL RECIPIENTS
The following groups received donations from your contributions to the Christmas Appeal. These groups and amounts were based on written applications and recommendations from the National FFAI Committee with final determination by our National officers. Every designated donation to approved groups was honored and groups named for designated donations got additional monies because we wanted contributions to reflect your feelings.
- Relatives for Justice-supports the relatives of those killed or injured in the conflict-fights for legacy justice-provides counseling and support services with offices in Belfast and Dungannon-involved with campaigns like Ballymurphy inquest-, headed by Mark Thompson, and Carmel Quinn is one of the trustees.
- Pat Finucane Centre-Human Rights Advocacy group-based in Derry named after slain civil rights lawyer Pat Finucane – headed by Paul O’Connor, and connected to campaigns like Bloody Sunday.
- Holy Cross Ardoyne-headed by Fr. Gary Donegan, is actually the Houben Centre dedicated to peace with justice in the sectarian flashpoint of Ardoyne.
- EALU-(means Escape in Irish)is a center for Republican ex-political prisoners located in Dungannon, East Tyrone, we visited their offices and they provide an array of services including job training ,counseling for ex-prisoners and families, legacy issues, education classes in Irish culture, language and history.
- Greater New Lodge Commemoration Committee-maintains a memorial garden and commemorations for IRA Volunteers and Republicans who were killed by the British in the New Lodge area of Belfast.
- Conway Mill Trust-located in Pittsburgh funds 8 community based organizations in the north including one in the Garvaghy Road, four in Belfast and three in Derry.
- Tyrone AOH– foster Irish history ,culture, language and issues in an area of Tyrone where all things Irish were suppressed-they hold a special memorial for a local Hibernian killed in 1916,campaign against the environmental destruction of the Mass Rock and Sperrins area and also assist on legacy issues and other issues.
- Cairde Strabane-serves Republican ex-political prisoners in West Tyrone which provides job training, education, counseling, and a historical museum.
- St. Patrick Centre-cross community charity and exhibition, and cultural centre about St. Patrick in Downpatrick.
- Duchas Oiriall-South Armagh organization promoting and studying the unique culture and history of South Armagh.
- Bridges beyond Boxing-cross-community boxing club based in Belfast.
- Down Patriot Graves-maintains graves,organizes commemorations and promotes history of Irish patriots in South Down.
- Green Cross-provides money and help to the families who lost loved ones during the conflict.
- Belfast National Graves-to commemorate and maintain the graves of those who gave their lives for Irish freedom.
- Omagh Basketball-cross-community basketball team in Omagh.
- Omagh Choir-cross-community choir.
These donations were presented during the tour which meant that a number of AOH and LAOH members handed out checks and showed that these contributions represent funds raised by a national organization. The reception we received is a credit to each member of the AOH-LAOH who works on FFAI or contributed to the Christmas Appeal. Your work matters and is deeply appreciated!
FFAI MONTHLY BULLETIN
Please check for the monthly FFAI Bulletin on the New York State and National AOH web sites. We want to give you monthly updates on key events in the north with short analysis and explanation.