Irishman seeking exclusion damages

 

AN Irishman who successfully challenged his exclusion from Britain in the European Court of Justice is claiming damages in the Court of Appeal in London tomorrow.

The Home Secretary, Mr Michael Howard, is denying that Mr John Gallagher suffered a "devastating ordeal". He will argue that Mr Gallagher is not entitled to damages.

The hearing is expected to last two days.

Mr Gallagher (36), from Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, was excluded from Britain in 1991 while he was working in London.

He was deported to Ireland and his then partner, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant, followed him shortly afterwards.

He challenged his exclusion through the English courts and ultimately in the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

Last November, in a ruling binding on the British government, the European court said the exclusion order was in breach of the free movement of labour for EU citizens under the Treaty of Rome.

Mr Gallagher described the European ruling as a "vindication of my innocence" and said it was a recognition that people could not be arbitrarily excluded from a European state without any reason being given.

He said the exclusion had a devastating effect on his personal and family life and on his work.

"My earning potential, for at least three years, was badly damaged," he said.

His lawyers will argue that the forced move to Ireland damaged his and his partner's careers, placed their relationship under strain, and caused him stress related health problems.

Mr Gallagher was convicted, in the Special Criminal Court in Dublin in 1993, of having arms and ammunition, after he was arrested in Co Mayo.

He served two years of a three year sentence in Portlaoise Prison. He was active in Sinn Fein in the 1980s but left the party in 1987, and his involvement in republican politics then ceased.

He said he had no involvement whatsoever in political or paramilitary activity at the time of his arrest in Britain.

The exclusion order was lifted last year.