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May 28, 2008

New Groups Aims To Resolve Status

New Group Aims To Resolve Status

May 28, 2008 A group of former IRA prisoners now living in the
United States is launching a campaign to bring a permanent
resolution to their legal status.

Irish American Unity Conference president Kate McCabe, Ancient
Order of Hibernians president Jack Meehan, and Irish Northern Aid
president Paul Doris declared in a statement their "enthusiastic
support" for the newly formed group, "Thar Saile," which means
"overseas" in Irish.

Paul Harkin, vice president of the IAUC and a former prisoner,
announced the formation of Thar Saile late last week.

The group is made up of former prisoners, many of who have faced
deportation but who have otherwise been living, working, and
raising families in the U.S. within the parameters of the law for

Some are married to American wives and are the fathers of
American born children.

"In one of his last acts before leaving office in 2000, President
Clinton announced that deportation proceedings against these men
would be halted and they would move into 'deferred action'
status," the group said in its statement.

"This action was hailed both as a victory for the Irish American
community and as a part of the peace dividend for those
courageously working to end the ongoing conflict in the north of
Ireland. It has become clear, however, that this remains
unfinished business," the statement added

"The status of these men is unclear and ambiguous," said Harkin.

"We cannot travel back to Ireland to visit family; work permit
renewals are an ongoing problem, frequently jeopardizing
employment; and the deferred action umbrella did not cover all of
the former prisoners in the U.S., some of whom are still living
in the shadows."

In conjunction with the formation of Thar Saile, The IAUC has
released a document entitled "Prisoners of Peace."

This document makes the case that reintegration of former
prisoners is a first and critical step in any peace process.

"Ironically, in the north of Ireland, former prisoners are
holding elected office and working together to build a new
society. Only in the U.S. is their status still unresolved," the
Thar Saile statement said.

It added that the objective of Thar Saile was to end the
uncertainty for the men and their families by providing them with
a permanent legal status and the right to live, work, and travel

"Thar Saile will launch a broad-based education and communication
campaign around this issue and will work with their supporters
around the U.S. to bring this issue to the attention of all major
political candidates." The statement concluded.

This story appeared in the issue of May 28-June 3, 2008
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