Wednesday 14 November 2018

They handcuffed me and put me in restraints

He'd just finished his regular session in a Boston gym and was driving home to rest up for work the next day.

Aidan Callanan, a 31-year-old carpenter from Kilchreest in Galway who was working in the US illegally, turned right after failing to spot a sign forbidding the manoeuvre and saw the red and blue lights flashing in the rear-view mirror.

The cop issued him with a ticket and he had to go to court, but the judge let him off with a $100 fine.

As the talented hurler was leaving the court house, he was nabbed by officials from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

For the next four weeks, Aidan was held in a county jail in Boston before deportation. He arrived back in Dublin last Tuesday morning and into the arms of his relieved family and girlfriend Edel.

Speaking about his ordeal, he told the Irish Independent: "They handcuffed me and took me to their offices to be processed before sending me to jail. I knew the game was up immediately.

"Restraints were placed around my legs too and a chain went around my body to which I was cuffed. I had one phone call and rang my cousin in Boston who was able to tell my family what had happened."

Aidan had been in America for three years but was planning to move back to Ireland on March 26.

"I left Ireland because work had dried up. My plan was to make some money there and then return to Galway."

Dressed in a white jumpsuit, Aidan found himself in prison with hardened criminals. On certain days, during a lockdown, he would have to remain in his cell for 24 hours.

"I managed for the first two weeks but after that it became very difficult. The worst thing was not knowing when I'd be deported; information was very hard to come by and I couldn't make or receive international calls."

His only visitor was Fr John McCarthy – the Chaplain at the Irish Pastoral Centre in Dorchester.

"We've been saying for years that those who are detained shouldn't be held in general prisons and that there must be other ways to have them sent back to Ireland than waiting for weeks in these dangerous places," he said.

"The younger lads suffer particularly; psychologically they are totally unprepared. Some can be locked up for six to eight weeks; it's ridiculous."

The Irish consulate in Boston did all they could to help Aidan and when his Delta flight climbed into the American skies, he knew his ordeal was over.

"It was horrendous and it'll take a while to get over it, I'm just so relieved I came through it . . . at times it felt like it was a nightmare that would never end."

Irish Independent

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