One Ireland

Irish Family Can Stay Pending Appeal

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Star-Ledger Staff

The U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that an asylum-seeker from Northern Ireland, his wife and three children can remain in the United States until their case is heard.

Malachy McAllister, 46, of Wallington, Bergen County, has been fighting deportation for years, and his case has become a cause for several Irish-American groups who advocate for victims of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

McAllister and his family fled Northern Ireland in 1988 after armed loyalists attacked their home. They moved to Canada before coming to the United States in 1996. McAllister's application for political asylum was denied because he had been convicted in plots to murder officers of the Royal Ulster

Immigration officials say McAllister is a terrorist. McAllister claims he was involved in a legitimate struggle for Irish independence during a civil war. He was convicted by a British judge in a non-jury trial and served time in jail.

Last December, McAllister and his 24-year-old son were spared deportation at the 11th hour after his attorney petitioned the courts for a delay until the case is appealed.

U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9th Dist.), who has lobbied to keep McAllister and his family in the United States, said yesterday's decision was a victory for the family.

"In granting a stay of removal, the court has sent a message that it recognizes the McAllisters have legitimate concerns over their personal safety should they be forced to return to Northern Ireland," Rothman said.

McAllister's wife, Bernadette, and three of the couple's four children have also been ordered deported and their request for a stay was also granted. The 3rd Circuit Court, which sits in Philadelphia, has not yet scheduled a hearing on the merits of the case.

Yesterday's decision does not apply to McAllister's son, Mark, because he was convicted of a minor drug charge. The court said it has no jurisdiction over his case.

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