Bartender Wins First Round in Fight Against Deportation
After serving eight years in a Belfast prison, Sean O'Cealleagh came to the United States to make a new life. He got a green card so he could work, then took a job as a bartender at O'Malley's in Seal Beach, where he became popular for his ability to croon Celtic tunes. O'Cealleagh and his wife had a baby. He traveled freely between the United States and Ireland, never experiencing a problem returning to Seal Beach. Life was good.
But in February, returning to Los Angeles International Airport after a trip to Northern Ireland, he was detained by immigration officials who boarded the plane and separated him from his 3-year-old American-born son. They said he should have never been allowed into the United States because of his conviction.
After a four day trial, an immigration judge ruled that O'Cealleagh had been convicted in a tainted trial and had been held by the British as a political prisoner. Although immigration authorities contended that O'Cealleagh had participated in the Casement Park killings, where two corporals were beaten by a Belfast mob before being shot to death by members of the Irish Republican Army, a videotape of the incident failed to satisfy the immigration judge that O'Cealleagh was even in Casement Park when the beating occurred.
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