Homeland Security Won't Let a Former IRA Man Out of Prison

After living in the U.S. for 25 years, Pól Brennan is now stuck on the Texas-Mexico border

Still, all decent governments, Morrison maintains, allow themselves "wiggle room." "The [American] government wants to say, 'Well, these are the rules. Period. The end.' But you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that even a cursory review of governmental activity in and around immigration issues previously will prove that they can do anything they want when they want to do it."

Morrison cites the example of a famous world leader who was convicted of terrorist activities. "If you want to strictly apply the law, Nelson Mandela does not meet the requirement for gaining access to the United States of America," Morrison points out. "Do they stop Nelson Mandela from coming to the United States?"

Morrison wonders if there is even that much thought applied to Brennan's case. "I wonder sometimes if with all these agencies that have been subsumed under the general heading of Homeland Security, has a monolithic organization been created here? Where the individual organizations were dysfunctional enough to begin with, when you glue all that dysfunctionality together, it's hard to actually distinguish between what's actually a policy and what's just a function of bureaucratic ineptitude. And the real problem is, we don't know. It's like a black hole in space."

Pól Brennan just before his arrest in South Texas this year...
Courtesy Pól Brennan
Pól Brennan just before his arrest in South Texas this year...
...he is pictured around the time he came in from the cold in the 1990s.
Courtesy Pól Brennan
...he is pictured around the time he came in from the cold in the 1990s.

"I'm not being flippant when I say this, but all of us that belong to Thar Saile have got histories that don't look very good on paper," Morrison continues. As a teenager, Morrison was jailed for a decade for attempted murder of a policeman. The incident came at the height of the Troubles and, in Morrison's telling, was the result of a running gun battle.

"But the reality is that every single one of us have integrated into our communities in the United States. We've got American wives for the most part, we've got American children and we've been taxpaying, contributing members of our communities since the day and hour we've come over here, and I think there's been multiple proofs of that along the way. It's not like you're dealing with some invader from outer space.

"I'm a nurse by profession, for God's sake!" Morrison continues. "I've taken care of sick American children and sick American adults, and I've helped Americans to die when I worked for hospice. It's almost as if there's nothing we can do that's thrown into the balance. It doesn't matter what we do."

Brennan has been convicted of both offenses large and small and remains a fugitive to boot. The irreproachable thing to do would be to deport him. Javert certainly would. As for the humane thing, the sublime, the great, perhaps those are just the sort of gestures America used to make.


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I'm probably the only person here who was born and raised in Ireland during the Troubles, so I want to state for the record that during the course of the Troubles, Mr. Brennan and his IRA comrades  murdered more Irish men, women, and children, than the British. And still do. Can you guess the damage those 23 pound bomb would have caused? If not, look up Bloody Friday, La Mon, the Remembrance Day Bombing, Omagh Bombing. This is the only charge he was jailed for. The IRA were kill Irish Catholics as well as Protestants - we have no idea how many murders he participated in. At least he gets his life - not many IRA victims did. You do the crime, you do the time.