Irish American Unity Conference


August 27, 2004

Ciaran Ferry now has been illegally held for over 575 days in Jefferson County Jail in Golden, Colorado.

Mr. Ferry's legal team, consisting of Jeff Joseph, Tom Burke and Eamonn Dornan, has recently contacted the Department of Homeland Security's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("DHS/ICE") seeking answers to why Mr. Ferry is still being held in Jefferson County Jail in Colorado beyond a statutory deadline of August 4, 2004.

According to his lawyers, the DHS was obligated by law to make a determination by that date to either release Ciaran from jail or to produce written reasons explaining why his continued detention is necessary. The lawyers pointed out in a letter to DHS, that this involved a matter of some constitutional importance. The DHS, in response, simply ignored its obligations and instead threatened to deport him immediately, in contempt of the ruling of a Federal Judge.

Ciaran Ferry's wife, Heaven, received a copy of a letter sent by Ciaran's lawyers to DHS which advised that "in order to maintain Ciaran Ferry in detention past the 90 day removal period of August 4th, [the DHS] must make a determination that he is a threat to public safety or a flight risk." The legal team outlined excerpts of U.S. law mandating that Ciaran Ferry "must be granted release under an Order of Supervision, no later than August 4, 2004." The letter closes: "Kindly consider allowing Mr. Ferry to be released from custody in Aurora, Colorado, under an Order of Supervision, so that he may rejoin his family and continue to pursue any legal remedies which may be available to him."

In its response, the DHS dismissed the lawyers’ requests, and demanded instead that they forward Ciaran’s passport, in order to “facilitate the immediate removal of Mr. Ferry to the Republican (sic) of Ireland.”

This is in clear violation of no less than two Orders from United States District Judge Nottingham, which mandate that Ciaran Ferry must remain in the jurisdiction pending the Court’s decision on his Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, which has not yet been decided. Ciaran Ferry’s legal team seek to bring this matter to the attention of Judge Nottingham.

At the heart of the matter is the question of whether or not Ciaran Ferry is a "threat to national security". According to an earlier letter from the DHS, Ciaran's detention "is based upon his prior convictions relating to the conflict in Northern Ireland."

Ciaran's legal team countered that, "Mr. Ferry was released from detention in Northern Ireland pursuant to the U.S. brokered "Good Friday Accords." The Good Friday Agreement ("GFA"), which is unique in its application, contains provisions clearly indicating that individuals like Mr. Ferry are no longer considered to be a danger to the safety of their communities. To the contrary, the release of prisoners such as Mr. Ferry specifically was engineered to assist in the promotion of the Good Friday Peace Accords."

"Following the signing of the GFA, which largely ended the conflict in Northern Ireland, many hundreds of prisoners like Ciaran Ferry, having renounced violence, were released. In doing so, the GFA took into account "the seriousness of the offences for which the person was convicted and the need to protect the community." See GFA at Section 10(2).

Accordingly, Ciaran Ferry and others who were released were deemed not to be a danger to the community in their home country, much less a danger to the United States."

While the DHS insists that Ciaran Ferry is a "danger to society," the legal team pointed out that "at least a dozen Congressmen, and many prominent Irish-American organizations, as well as hundreds of U.S. citizens, believe otherwise."

At a recent Chicago fundraiser co-hosted by the Irish American Unity Conference (IAUC), attorney Eamonn Dornan said, "After 20 months, Ciaran Ferry has been denied bail and due process of the law while being held in a Colorado jail. The Department of Homeland Security has failed to meet its lawful obligations. This is yet another breach of Ciaran's constitutional rights to due process and a further illegal restriction of his liberties." Referring to the recent Supreme Court decision in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, [June 28, 2004, No. 03-6696], Dornan stated that "Ciaran Ferry is now in a worse position than enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay." The Supreme Court in Hamdi determined that a US citizen whom the government classified as an "enemy combatant" for allegedly taking up arms with the Taliban, "must be afforded a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decision maker." In contrast, Ciaran Ferry has been denied such an opportunity at every turn.

IAUC National President and retired Judge, Andrew Somers, stated: "We have had to bear witness to absurd contradictions whereby Britons held at Guantanamo Bay, who have been determined to be no danger to the United States, have been released to their families. In the meantime, an Irishman, a father and husband to US citizens, and someone who played a role in moving forward the Good Friday Peace Accords, has been left to languish without bail in a county jail in Colorado, purportedly as a "danger" to this society.

“The DHS has so far managed to avoid any legal challenge to its refusal to grant Ciaran Ferry any bond determination. Having disregarded his constitutional rights to due process, the DHS is now in blatant violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as well as a Federal Court Order, and has ignored the deadlines which Congress has set for it in this type of case."

"The IAUC demands Ciaran Ferry's immediate release, and will seek answers from the DHS and our Congressional representatives regarding this outrage."


Contact: Deanna Turner, Director of Communication

National Office
611 Pennsylvania Ave, SE # 4150
Washington, D.C. 20003
Tel: 1-800-947-4282
Email: iauc@iauc.org
Web: http://www.iauc.org




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