The mother of a former republican prisoner facing deportation from America has expressed fears for her son's future.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph from her south Belfast home last night, Ellen McAllister told how she pleaded with the US government to allow her son, Malachy, and two of his children, Sean and Nicola, to remain in New Jersey.
The father-of-four fled his Ormeau Road home in 1998 after a Red Hand Commando gang came within inches of killing his family.
Mrs McAllister issued her plea after the Irish American Unity Conference lobby group claimed the family's deportation was "imminent".
The 77-year-old, who has just returned from a six-week trip to the United States, said the final decision on her son's deportation now rests with senators there.
She claimed her son's family would be "ripped apart" if he was forced to return to Belfast.
Mrs McAllister said: "My son is no threat to anyone. What crimes have my two grandchildren committed?
"I can't believe this is happening and I just hope the politicians allow him to remain in America.
" He hasn't been able to scatter his wife's ashes because he doesn't know where he's going to be in a few weeks time. We hope to know soon one way or the other what's going to happen.
"It will break his heart to bring only two of his children back to Belfast because they will have to start all over again.
"He has been making a positive contribution to America and should be allowed to continue the life that he has led for the last 20 years."
The ex-prisoner told how he had "exhausted" the judicial process in his bid to remain in the United States.
Malachy said: "It's now just a case of waiting to see if the senators can get legislation through which will allow my family to remain in the US.
"This is a humanitarian issue. My kids grew up in America and they don't know anything different. They are being affected by a circumstance which is completely out of their control."
McAllister (50), who has met with former US President Bill Clinton to discuss case, was jailed in the 1980s after being implicated by republican supergrass Harry Kirkpatrick.