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11 September 1997 Edition

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US drops deportation orders against Irishmen

The US administration announced its decision on Tuesday 9 September to suspend deportation proceedings against six Irishmen.

The US Department of Justice said that ``Acting on a formal request from the Secretary of State (Madelaine Albright), the Attorney General (Janet Reno) today suspended the removal proceedings of certain Irish nationals who have engaged in activity on behalf of the Irish Republican Army''. The statement said the measure was taken to advance the Irish Peace Process and all-party talks.

The Department of Justice statement named the six individuals as Robert McErlean, Matthew Morrison, Gabriel Megahey, Brian Pearson, Noel Gaynor, and Gerald McDade. The US move was welcomed by 26-County Foreign Affairs Minister Ray Burke and by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams.

In a statement on Wednesday Adams said that over the last three years himself and other Sinn Féin representatives had continually raised the issue of Irish families facing deportation in each and every political meeting they held in the United States. Most recently at a meeting with President Clinton's National Security Advisor Sandy Berger.

``The men of these families are nationalists from the north of Ireland who have suffered under the oppresive nature of British rule. Each man came to the United States in search of a new life, to escape the harsh realities of life in the north of Ireland. In America they found jobs, married, started families and worked hard. Many of these families have been fighting their legal challenges for years. These legal battles have taken their toll, emotionally and financially'', Adams said.

Adams reiterated his belief that US involvement was ``crucial to building a lasting peace with justice in Ireland''.

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