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Pól Brennan was born in 1953 in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Belfast, Northern Ireland. While growing up, he witnessed first-hand the sectarian bigotry that plagued the North of Ireland at the time. In 1972 when he was 19, like many of his friends and neighbors he became a civil rights activist.
Irish Republican Seeks Normalized Status.
Pól Brennan was born in 1953 in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Belfast, Northern Ireland. While growing up, he witnessed first-hand the sectarian bigotry that plagued the North of Ireland at the time. In 1972 when he was 19, like many of his friends and neighbors he became a civil rights activist. He fought to end British attacks on the nationalist population. The British had unleashed Loyalist paramilitary death squads on ordinary Catholics with horrendous results.
Pól has been involved with the Republican struggle to defend his people's rights, to remove British troops from Irish soil and to reunite Ireland as one republic. In 1974, he was interned for a year by British authorities without being charged with any criminal acts... In 1976, Brennan was convicted of possessing explosives, and sentenced to 16 years.
He immediately joined the blanket protest against the new policy of criminalization of political prisoners. With many of his fellow prisoners, he refused to accept the criminal label and thus rejected the prison-issue uniform. For a time, he shared a cell with Bobby Sands and participated for a short while in the first hunger strike. During his imprisonment, 10 of his friends and comrades died on hunger strike protesting against the British criminalization policy.
In 1983 Pól was among the 38 men who escaped from Long Kesh, which was claimed to be one of Europe’s most secure prisons. Pól made his way to the US and settled near San Francisco where he met and married Joanna Volz. They lived quietly for 9 years until federal agents arrested him on a British extradition warrant. He spent the next 7 years fighting extradition, 3 of them from prison. The British withdrew their extradition request in 1998.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, the IRA had ended its war. Sinn Fein, the main Republican political party, had agreed to govern Northern Ireland alongside the other Northern Irish political parties. As part of the agreement, the British released most of the political prisoners. They also withdrew their extradition requests against the H Block Three.
Pol, Joanna and her daughter Molly settled down to a peaceful, normal life in the Bay area. Pól worked legally as a carpenter, Joanna as a legal clerk. Pól enjoyed his passion for astronomy and volunteered at the local planetarium.
On January 26, 2008, while en route to relatives in Texas (a trip they had made many times before) Pól and Joanna were stopped at an immigration checkpoint 100 miles inside the US border. Pól had an expired work authorization, and they were detained. Pól was able to reach his lawyer who faxed the Border Patrol agent documentation of his pending asylum case and pending work authorization. Despite this legal proof of status Pól was arrested and incarcerated in the Port Isabel Detention Center where he spent more than 4 months in solitary confinement.
He was eventually released into the general population mainly due to pressure prompted in part by his website, http://www.polbrennan.com. Pól has been refused bail on the grounds that he is a “flight risk” and a “danger to the community.” Pól is fighting to stay in the US, which demolishes the notion of “flight risk”.
He is a valued member of his community, who are fighting to allow Pól the right to live among them. All Pól seeks is that Homeland Security drop its opposition to bail and allow him to defend his case in court in a fair manner.
Homeland Security should withdraw their opposition to bail for Pól Brennan so he may compile a comprehensive defense against those charges laid against him. It is un-American to expect anyone who has been treated as Pól Brennan has over the past few months - moved numerous times from one end of Texas to the other, unable to contact family or his attorney for days after each shift, held in solitary at arrival in each new detention center - to produce a reasonable case for himself in court.
Pól has proved in the past that he will adhere to any and all conditions laid on him by the courts as far as bail goes. Because Pól is not yet an American citizen does that mean his human rights and the right to due process can be denied him? All Pól and his family want is to be allowed bail to fight his case on its merits in the courts. Please help him achieve this by contacting elected representatives and ask them to contact Homeland Security and request that they will remove their opposition to bail.
We would also ask those that belong to organizations that have supported Pól and other Irish activists to contact the people on Senator Obama’s advisory panel and tell them they have a chance to end the senseless targeting of Irish Republicans for persecution and deportation.
Tell them that the US Government needs to adhere to its responsibilities, both verbal and written, to support the peace process by allowing former Irish political activists the same rights and opportunities being given to them everywhere else except here in the US.
They deserve the right to a life free from persecution for past political actions and the right to finally have peace.
Pól Brennan Support Group
information (at) polbrennan.com
Below are some quotes from Supporters of Pól Brennan;
Congressman Peter King;
In a phone interview with the Irish Echo, Rep. King, a former chairman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, was asked if he thought Brennan should ultimately be allowed to stay in the US.
"Yes I do. My understanding is the only problem with that is that he didn't file (the work permit renewal form) on time," said Congressman King. "As I understand it, he was living here legally and then there was a paperwork error," he added. "And whether it was his fault or the government's fault, the fact is, as I understand it, there was no malice, there was no attempt not to file it. So if they are the facts, then he should stay."
AOH (Ancient Order of Hibernians)
Brennan twice honored bond terms when released in the 1990s during British extradition proceedings. "Mr. Brennan's continued detention without bond appears to serve no end that is consistent with the interest of the United States to foster a lasting peace in Northern Ireland.”
The A.O.H. National Board would ask that a reasonable offer of bond be made to Mr. Brennan to assure his compliance and attendance at subsequent Immigration Hearings, as well as good conduct in the interim.
We ask that Mr. Brennan be allowed to contest the process of removal while being released on bond. We believe that his history proves that he is neither a flight risk nor a danger to the US.
Congressmen Peter King, Richard E Neil and James T Walsh
Mr. Brennan’s continued detention without bond appears to serve no end that is consistent with the interest of the United States to foster a lasting peace in Northern Ireland. With his marriage to a United States citizen, and provisions in the law to waive his prior unlawful presence in the US, Mr. Brennan ought to be granted the opportunity to contest the charge of removal with the privilege of release on bond. His continued detention is not justified for the security of the United States or its people, nor is he a flight risk.
A Labor Party Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in the New South Wales assembly, he has written to the U.S. Consul General in Sydney, Judith Fergin, to express concern over Brennan's continued detention, which he called "at best, absurd."
Lynch told the Irish Echo in a phone interview that he particularly can't understand why Brennan is being denied bail.
"At an earlier time, Pól Brennan was allowed bail and reported back to face the tribunal," Lynch said "That having been the case in the past - given that the Good Friday Agreement has since occurred - it seems utterly bizarre that he wouldn't be allowed bail now."
Owner of the landscaping company where Brennan has worked as a carpenter for almost a year, he described the IRA fugitive as "a law-abiding person who seems to be sensitive to the needs of those around him. And he's probably about as easy-going a guy as I've ever met." He said that any U.S. deportation of Brennan would be a "terrible thing."
"He lives here. He works here. He's got his life here. He's married here," said Hansen "He's become part of this area. And it would be a crying shame to see him leave when he doesn't want to."
Marion Keenan, Pól Brennan's sister
“Pól's been in the (U.S. judicial) system for the last 15 years, and it seems that it's pretty over the top, all this now," she told the Echo. "It's not as though they just found him.
He's been in the system all that time. I feel that this is just old news," she added "The war is over. It's time this was over. The incident Pól was involved in happened 30-odd years ago. But this all keeps repeating itself. It's like a roundabout. Everybody else is trying to move on, but he's held back. It's just not fair."
Joe Doherty, Coiste na n-Iarchimi
I represent Coiste na n-Iarchimi, a republican ex-prisoners network in Ireland representing some 25,000 former detainees.
It is this organization that calls and demands the immediately release of Pól Brennan. We call on the Bush administration to demand that Homeland Security and the local Texas courts release Pol. The Irish republican movement has been at peace since 1995. Pól Brennan was a supporter of that peace process and was instrumental in voicing this support for peace to our supporters in the US. The arrest and continuing incarceration is insult to the integrity of Pól’s work over the years.