Former INLA prisoner Malachy McAllister to be deported from US

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Malachy McAllisterImage source, Ancient Order of Hibernians
Image caption,
Malachy McAllister (pictured with Senator George Mitchell) had spent years fighting to remain in the US

A former republican prisoner originally from Belfast is expected to be deported from the United States after a lengthy legal battle.

Malachy McAllister is understood to have turned himself in to US immigration authorities in New Jersey on Tuesday, RTÉ reports.

He was jailed for seven years for two Irish National Liberation Army attacks on police officers in 1981.

He was released in 1985 and has lived in New Jersey for more than 20 years.

McAllister had sought political asylum in the US in 1988 after his Belfast home was attacked by loyalist gunmen.

A US immigration appeals board ordered his deportation in 2003, but he had been granted multiple stays of removal by the US Department of Homeland Security.

Last year he told the New York-based newspaper Irish Voice he was afraid of being attacked by paramilitaries if he returned to Northern Ireland.

Several Irish-American groups and US politicians had lobbied for him to be allowed to remain in the US.

New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez criticised the US Department of Homeland Security for formally detaining McAllister ahead of his deportation.

Senator Menendez described Mr McAllister as a New Jersey resident and respected Irish community leader who had escaped an assassination attempt in his native country and has lived peacefully in the US for decades.

"Today is a sad day for the McAllister family and New Jersey's Irish community," he said.

"Deporting a community leader who poses no national security or public safety threat is not only a clear injustice, but also contrary to our nation's values."