Irish Independent

US visa violators are not being helped, says TD

THE Government was accused last night of not doing enough to help Irish people arrested in the US for visa violations.

Fine Gael TD John Deasy made the charge as attempts were being made to secure the release of two men being held for the past six weeks in a top security Denver prison since being picked up for overstaying on their holiday visas.

The men, cousins Alan and Cliff Whelan, both 23, from Waterford city, are being locked up 23 hours a day, according to their families.

The men say that during their transfer by bus from Montana, where they were arrested, they were shackled and chained with 16 other prisoners and accompanied by heavily armed guards.

The cousins were arrested at the beginning of November by four policemen carrying out spot checks on a Seattle-bound train. Since then, they have been allowed one three-minute phone call a week.

According to new figures Mr Deasy has obtained, 290 Irish people have been deported from the US in the past five years. He plans to raise the men's detention with the US ambassador.

Frank Khan

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