Page last updated at 12:34 GMT, Thursday, 16 April 2009 13:34 UK

Maze escaper makes final appeal

Pól Brennan fled to America after escaping from the Maze
Pól Brennan fled to America after escaping from the Maze

A Maze escaper facing deportation from the United States has said he will appeal to the head of the Department of Homeland Security.

Pól (Paul) Brennan was arrested at a border checkpoint in Texas in 2008 because his US work permit had expired.

A judge ruled he should be deported and an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals was rejected. He said he will now appeal to Janet Napolitano.

He escaped from the Maze in 1983 along with 37 other republican prisoners.

The 55-year-old told the Irish Echo newspaper an appeal to the head of Homeland Security would be his "last chance" to remain in the US.

He said that he and his support and legal team would organise a campaign to have people write to Napolitano and US politicians on his behalf.

An online petition calling for a halt to the deportation - active from last April - currently has more than 1,400 signatures.

Last November, a federal immigration judge ruled he should be deported from the US.

Sinn Fein Assembly member Raymond McCartney said Brennan should not be sent back to Ireland.

"Pól Brennan has made a new life for himself in the USA," he said.

"He is married to an American citizen for over 20 years and that is where Pól's life now is."

The biggest jail break in the UK history took place from the high security Maze prison on 25 September 1983 when 38 republican prisoners escaped.

38 republican prisoners escaped from the Maze in 1983
38 republican prisoners escaped from the Maze in 1983

Prison officer James Ferris died of a heart attack after being stabbed while attempting to stop the escape.

Ten of the prisoners were recaptured in the first few hours, but the remainder went on the run with some emerging in north America.

Pól Brennan, Kevin Artt, James Smyth and Terrence Kirby were arrested in the United States between 1992 and 1994 and fought lengthy legal battles against extradition.

Smyth was extradited back to Northern Ireland in 1996 and returned to prison, before being released in 1998 as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

In 2000, the British government announced that the extradition requests for Brennan, Artt and Kirby were being withdrawn as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

The men officially remain fugitives, but in 2003 the Prison Service said they were not being "actively pursued".



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