Malachy McAllister, who recently won a year-long stay of a deportation order he received earlier this year, received a boost to his case after a Belfast loyalist was charged with the attempted murder of McAllister in October of 1998.

Winston 'Winkie' Rea appeared in Belfast Magistrates Court charged with 12 counts of terrorism related offenses dating back more than 20 years. He was given bail after being charged with the murders of John Devine in 1989 and John O'Hara in 1991.

He faces a total of 12 charges including membership of the Red Hand Commando and also the attempted murder of McAllister, who fled Belfast after the attack, first for Canada and then the U.S. He has lived in New Jersey for the past 20 years, and owns a successful masonry business. He also recently opened an Irish bar and restaurant in Manhattan.

McAllister has long complained that the state was intrinsically involved in the preparation, commission and execution of his attempted murder, and has issued civil proceedings against the chief constable and the MOD in respect of this, as well as having made a formal complaint to the office of the Police Ombudsman.

Speaking after the court appearance, McAllister’s solicitor Niall Murphy said, “That the facts will now be publicly examined in the criminal trial process 28 years is a further exoneration of the campaign that Malachy has pursued and is further testament to the fact that issues pertaining to his application to remain in the United States, are as live, relevant and politically sensitive today as they were 28 years ago.”

One of McAllister’s staunchest U.S. political defenders, Congressman Joe Crowley of New York, issued a statement in support of McAllister on Monday.

“The attempted assassination of Malachy McAllister and his family was despicable and I’m pleased to hear there has been an arrest in this case. While it is important to not predetermine the outcome of this arrest and any subsequent judicial action, it is obvious that what happened to Malachy was wrong,” Crowley said.

“As the de Silva report made clear, government authorities were involved in the attempt on Malachy’s life. As a victim of this crime and the associated collusion, he should be given asylum.

“I will continue my efforts to ensure Malachy’s political asylum case is thoroughly re-reviewed in light of the new evidence raised and will fight tooth and nail for a permanent resolution that will keep Malachy in the U.S. with his family for good.”