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Ex-prisoners children 'discriminated' against when trying to gain entry to the United States

Sinn Féin Assembly member and former Republican prisoner Caral Ní Chuilín claims her son was discriminated against when trying to travel to the United States

CHILDREN of some ex-paramilitary prisoners are being barred from entering the United States, a politician has said.

Sinn Féin's Niall Ó Donnghaile said younger generations were being discriminated against after a former prisoner's teenage son got rejected for visa.

Jim Donnelly, who was released under the Good Friday peace agreement over 20 years ago, claimed it was as a result of his background.

A US Consulate spokesman said the Department of State did not comment on individual visa cases.

"We remain committed to facilitate valid travel for individuals, including business, tourism and for programs that build community ties," he said.

"People wanting to travel to the US should make sure they have an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) or visa "well in advance of travel", he added.

Mr Donnelly told the BBC's Talkback programme his 15-year-old son was "extremely disappointed" when his temporary visa was rejected.

"I was in prison before he was born," said Mr Donnelly.

"A 15 year old who happens to have a father who was involved in a conflict 22 years ago - is that fair?" he asked.

"It politicises young people when they then begin to ask: 'Why was I rejected?'

"My son has been denied over something that happened before he was born."

Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín, who spent four years in jail, said her youngest son also had issues entering the US.

She said he had been successful in the ESTA process but then "got to check-in and was told he was barred".

Her son went to US Consulate and was asked questions about his mother, she said.

Mr Ó Donnghaile said he had written to the Good Friday Agreement Implementation Committee, asking it to engage with the US Embassy about "the children and grandchildren of former political prisoners here being barred from travel into America".

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