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August 09, 2005

Malachy McAllister In the News

IRA cease-fire no solace to Irish expatriate

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

WALLINGTON - The Irish Republican Army may have pledged to lay down
its arms after fighting British rule in Northern Ireland, but that
doesn't mean the McAllisters want to go back to their homeland.

Caught in the endless rounds of violence that tore apart the
province, the McAllisters, a Catholic family, escaped Belfast 17
years ago, but are still seeking asylum in the United States.

Malachy McAllister, 48, and his two youngest children, Nicola, 19,
and Sean, 17, are waiting to hear whether a judge from the 3rd U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals will order their deportation by the end of
this month.

Rep. Steve Rothman, D-Fair Lawn, introduced a bill in June that
would allow the family to stay in Wallington because their lives
would be in danger in Northern Ireland. Rothman also recruited 43
other members of Congress to sign a letter to Michael Chertoff,
secretary of homeland security, expressing support for the family.

Malachy McAllister was convicted in Northern Ireland in 1983 of
serving as a lookout for the Irish National Liberation Army, a
paramilitary group separate from the IRA, during an attempted
assault on a Royal Ulster Constabulary officer. Five years later,
the family narrowly escaped injury when 26 shots were fired by into
their living room by British loyalists, Malachy McAllister said.

Although the IRA issued a statement on July 28 saying that it would
abandon its armed campaign to unite Northern Ireland with the Irish
Republic, Rothman contends that the McAllisters would still be in

"It was the loyalist forces that initiated the attacks against his
family," said Shelly O'Neill Stoneman, a legislative aide for
Rothman. "It was [several] years after the attempted crime that he
participated in occurred, when he thought it was safe to go home."

Malachy McAllister said he was heartened by the IRA announcement,
but also thinks the danger to his family hasn't diminished.

"You always have that wary, conscious feeling that the same people
who tried to assassinate you will still be there," he said.

Melvin Dubnick, a political science professor from Rutgers
University who was in Northern Ireland for the past two years on a
Fulbright scholarship, said that violence has declined dramatically
since the McAllisters lived there 17 years ago.

"You really don't see a whole lot of sectarian confrontation in
Belfast," Dubnick said. "It's not like a war zone. You couldn't
really tell that there were any troubles at all."

He added that as IRA members became older and weary of the violence
in the late 1980s and early 1990s, they became more willing to work
within the political processes.

The Irish National Liberation Army, of which Malachy McAllister was
once a member, declared a cease-fire in 1998.

As he waits for the judge's decision, Malachy McAllister sits
behind a shrine of pictures of his wife, Bernadette, who died of
cancer last year.

"We, as parents, have experienced the reality of the violence in
Ireland when we were young, and we fought so that our kids could
have the life that we never had," he said.

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