US DEPORTS IRISHMAN ON 1975 CHARGES
The United States has deported an Irishman over allegations of
involvement in Ireland's armed struggle, causing a wave of anger among
Irish-American organisations who believed such actions had been ended
by the Irish peace process.
John McNicholl, one of a group of Irishmen known as 'deportees', had
been pursued by U.S. authorities over allegations of involvement in
Ireland's armed struggle as a member of the paramilitary INLA.
McNicholl was arrested on charges if taking part in a gun battle with
RUC police in July 1975. He and seven other men tunnelled out of the
now-closed Long Kesh Prison near Belfast in 1976 ahead of his non-jury
'Diplock' trial on the charges.
He was arrested on Thursday morning as he walked out of his home in
Pennsylvania on his way to work, and deported to Ireland under the
cover of darkness. Neither his lawyer nor his family was given prior
The family knew something was wrong when Mr. McNicholl's son awoke to
hear the sound of his father screaming from the sidewalk. His son ran
to the door to find Mr. McNicholl being forced into a car by
It later emerged that an appeal filed Thursday by Mr. McNicholl was
summarily rejected by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in
Philadelphia and he was deported the next day.
McNicholl testified during his 1999 deportation hearing that he was
active in the non-violent civil rights movement, but denied any role
in the INLA or the 1975 shooting.
He said he had been targeted by British authorities because of his
involvement in that group.
John Fogarty, Press Officer of the Irish American Unity Conference
(IAUC) said, "Irish America wants the Bush Administration, members
Congress, and the British and Irish governments to know that we will
not stand by and see Irish immigrants deported back to Ireland to face
discrimination and murder."
"The way Mr. McNicholl and his American family have been treated
Homeland Security is appalling. John has lived and worked in the United
States for over 20 years with not so much as a parking ticket and
should have at least been given the dignity to prepare and close out
his affairs before being deported.
"Instead, men came and grabbed him unannounced at 5:30 in the morning
from his front doorstep as he was leaving for work. It sounds like
something the KGB would do, not a United States agency. He was
shackled, handcuffed and humiliated. John wasn't even allowed to say
good-bye to his family."