Page last updated at 13:35 GMT, Saturday, 22 August 2009 14:35 UK

Escaper Brennan deported from US

Pól Brennan being taken to plane by US officials
Pól Brennan was deported from the US after more than a year in custody

Maze prison escaper Pól Brennan has been deported from the United States and has arrived back in Ireland, US immigration officials have said.

The Belfast man was arrested at a border checkpoint in Texas in 2008 because his US work permit had expired.

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

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said he was taken from a Texas detention centre and flown to Shannon Airport in the west of Ireland.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph Mr Brennan said he had been shackled during the six-hour flight and was met by members of his family at Shannon.

He said he would stay in the Republic for quite a while before deciding if he would travel to Northern Ireland.

Unionist politicians have said Mr Brennan should be returned to jail.

He had appealed to the head of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, to overturn the decision, but his lawyer said this had failed.

Pól Brennan fled to America after escaping from the Maze
Pól Brennan had been working as a carpenter in San Francisco

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

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.

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In 2000, the British government announced that the extradition requests for Brennan, Artt and Kirby were being withdrawn as part of the Good Friday Agreement.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