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Armagh-born Vietnam veteran wins battle against deportation from adopted Aussie homeland

By Staff Reporter

Published 13/08/2015

Michael with one of his grandsons
Michael with one of his grandsons
Australian soldiers in Vietnam
Michael McFadden’s service record

A Co Armagh man who endured hardship as a Vietnam War veteran after fighting for his adopted Australia has won a battle against deportation from Down Under.

Michael McFadden has been in Australia for 60 years.

But a stint serving in the Asia campaign in the 1960s with the Australian Army Signal Corps left a legacy of post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries.

It was left untreated and resulted in minor brushes with the law.

After his arrest the authorities realised the Keady-born man still only had British citizenship.

Efforts began to deport him - threatening to separate him from his children and grandchildren in Sydney.

Mr McFadden, who emigrated at the age of 10, spent three months in a detention centre in Sydney, facing being sent back to a country he hardly knows.

Following a public appeal, Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday agreed to overturn the deportation order, thus allowing Mr McFadden to stay in the country he has known for most of his life.

Mr McFadden, who turns 70 this Saturday, went to Australia in 1955.

After settling there, he either enlisted or was called up to serve in the Army, and was posted to Vietnam from from May 1966 to February 1967.

Following his war service, Mr McFadden lived in Sydney and raised a family of three children and his now a grandfather to six - but he failed to apply for citizenship.

Like many veterans suffering from the effects of combat, his life became plagued by alcoholism, leading to minor offences and a prison sentence. When the authorities learned that he was still a British citizen, his visa was cancelled and he was detained and a deportation order issued.

The Vietnam Veterans Federation branded the deportation order a disgrace, while, which started a petition to keep Mr McFadden in Australia, described it as a "death sentence".

"His war-related conditions went untreated due to lack of proper support and, if deported... he'll have no support network in the UK," it said.

"He fought for this country in a war zone, in the Australian Army uniform," the campaigning body added. "He underwent training in this country and served in an Australian unit, like other people who came from Britain or other countries."

The president of the Vietnam Veterans Federation, Frank Cole, also condemned the treatment of Mr McFadden as "absolutely beyond belief".

Mr McFadden was expected to be reunited with his children and grandchildren by last night before recuperating at the St John of God psychiatric hospital in Richmond, in Sydney's north-west.

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