Irish veteran who faced deportation from Australia let go

Michael McFadden (69), who served in Vietnam, spent four months in detention

Michael McFadden raised a family of three sons and has six grandchildren “and so his ties are here, to Australia”.

Michael McFadden raised a family of three sons and has six grandchildren “and so his ties are here, to Australia”.

 

An Irish Vietnam war veteran who faced deportation from Australia after spending time in prison has been granted a reprieve.

Michael McFadden (69) moved from Ireland to Australia at the age of 10. In the late 1960s he volunteered for the army and served 10 months in Vietnam. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as result of his service and has alcohol dependency and brain damage.

He thought he had become an Australian citizen, but when he was jailed last year it was discovered he just had permanent residency. This was revoked as his prison sentence was for more than 12 months.

Detention centre

After months of lobbying, the immigration minister, Peter Dutton, finally intervened on Wednesday and McFadden was allowed home to his family.

Norbert Keogh, director of the veterans centre at East Sydney Returned Services League, said Mr McFadden came back from Vietnam with serious mental injuries.

“The Australian government admitted liability for war-caused injuries with PTSD and alcohol dependence, and as a consequence of that, the brain damage developed,” he told ABC radio.

Despite this, Mr McFadden built a life. “He raised a family of three sons and has six grandchildren and so his ties are here, to Australia. He has no family overseas and he considers Australia home,” Mr Keogh said.

Eleven years ago, Mr McFadden’s family noticed dramatic personality changes, which were the result of brain damage caused by alcoholism.

Lawyer Nick Wiesener said this was the start of Mr McFadden’s legal trouble.

“There was an incident on a train in which he was drinking alcohol . . . and a transit officer attempted to apprehend him and he resisted that apprehension and that’s what brought about this prison sentence.”

Local media

“It’s fantastic that with a bit of media coverage we’re able to achieve this outcome and secure Mr McFadden’s release,” Mr Wiesener said.

“It certainly is an incredibly sad thing to put an army veteran through. He fought for Australia. I still can’t believe that we ended up in a situation where we were deporting an army veteran, particularly a wounded army veteran.

“We’re certainly going to be looking to secure Michael’s citizenship. As far as we’re concerned, he served in the Australian army and . . . he certainly deserves . . . citizenship.”