News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

May 30, 2008

US IRA Men Call For Legal Status

U.S. IRA Men Call for Legal Status

May 29, 2008

By Cahir O’Doherty

A GROUP of former IRA prisoners living in the U.S. has
launched a campaign to secure their legal status here.

The organization, Thar Saile (Irish for “overseas”), is
made up of former prisoners, many of whom have faced
deportation while living, working and raising families in
the U.S. for decades. Many are married to American wives
and are the fathers of American-born children.

In 2000, President Bill Clinton announced that deportation
proceedings against the former IRA prisoners would be
halted and they would move into “deferred action” status.
Although the action was hailed at the time as tangible
result of the peace process in Northern Ireland, the men’s
legal status in the U.S. has yet to be finally resolved.

Currently the former prisoners cannot travel to Ireland to
visit family. They must also constantly renew their work
permits over a period of months on an ongoing basis,
frequently jeopardizing their employment in the process.

Irish American Unity Conference (IAUC) president Kate
McCabe told the Irish Voice, “The position of our
organization is that the U.S. government’s position toward
this group of people is out of step with its entire policy
toward the Irish peace process. Martin McGuinness has been
to the White House on a number of occasions to meet with
President Bush, so it doesn’t make sense that they’re
targeting this group of men.”

Last week the IAUC released a document entitled “Prisoners
of Peace,” making the case that the reintegration of former
prisoners is a first and critical step in any peace
process. In Northern Ireland, they point out, former
prisoners are holding elected office and working together
to build a new society. Only in the U.S. is their status
still unresolved.

“It’s anachronistic that these men are being targeted.
Although no formal deportation orders have been filed
against them — with the exception of Pól Brennan who is
currently jailed in Texas — most of these men have to renew
their work permits every 60 to 90 days, which then takes a
further month to process,” McCabe said.

“Trying to keep a secure job is made difficult when you
know you have to renew your work permit constantly like
this. We feel it’s harassment.”

The objective of Thar Saile is to end the uncertainty for
the former IRA prisoners and their families by providing
them with a permanent legal status and the right to live,
work and travel here and abroad unencumbered.

This week Thar Saile has promised to launch a broad-based
education and communication campaign around this issue,
working with their supporters around the U.S. to bring this
issue to the attention of all major political candidates.
Any rational leader who understands the situation in Ireland will not see Volunteers who've obeyed the Army Council's orders to stand down as threats.

Unfortunately, W has never behaved rationally. The best we can hope for from him is that he doesn't attack Iran between now and 01/20/09.

McCain's tantrum during a not-too-distant St Patrick's Day speech (directed at Gerry Adams) makes me wonder if he's capable of rational behavior toward the Irish or anyone else.

The Democrats are a crap shoot.

Hillary took credit for helping negotiate the "Belfast Agreement" (it's the GFA and she wasn't involved), but that probably means she supports it. Whether that means she'll welcome Volunteers who've followed the Army Council's orders to disarm and stand down is another question altogether.

Has anyone heard any comments from Obama on the Irish--in Ireland, the UK, or the US?
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?