Irish Republican News · February 15, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: British Army spytower comes down
British Army spytower comes down

The last remaining British Army spypost in South Armagh has been dismantled in a move which has been described as ‘the end of an era’.

The mast and sangar towered above the town of Crossmaglen square for around 15 years, with soldiers stationed in bomb-proof underground bunkers, built to withstand rocket attack.

The massively fortified base was intended to protect the British Crown forces at a time when they could only get to the border village by helicopter. It came under attack by the IRA on countless occasions during the conflict.

Several towers have already been dismantled in south Armagh but people who had gathered to watch the event yesterday described the removal of the Crossmaglen spytower as “highly symbolic”.

“I think its great. It’s been an eyesore, a blot in the landscape for ages - it’s a start, it’s a step on the way,” one man said.

Unionists criticised timing of the tower’s destruction, which they described as ‘a sop to Sinn Féin’.

Other work being done at the base included the construction of a new perimeter fence around the remaining PSNI base following the withdrawal of British troops.

Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy welcomed the development.

“The removal of Britain’s war apparatus from our country has been a key demand made by Sinn Féin throughout each stage of our negotiations with the British government. In recent times some significant progress has been made,” he said.

“This military post has been a blight on this community for too long. Local people will be glad to see the back of this eyesore and those who spied on them from within it.

“Sinn Féin are determined to ensure that all British Army forces are removed from our communities and that land stolen and occupied be returned to their rightful owners or put to community use.”

CHOPPERS BUZZ GAME

However, continuing British Army helicopter flights in Crossmaglen caused anger as they swooped low over an important Gaelic football match.

The helicopters flew over the Armagh-Louth game in a “provocative and completely unnecessary” move, according to Seamus Kirk, Fianna Fail TD for Louth.

He has complain to British Direct Ruler Peter Hain about the incident.

He said the game was “seriously marred” by the low-flying British Army helicopters immediately over the pitch.

“The helicopters flew over the grounds several times during the match, causing noise, distraction and distress for the players and fans.

“It was completely unnecessary action on the part of the British Army.

“It was confrontational and upsetting for the Armagh and Louth fans, who were enjoying a family day out.

“I thought that these days of provocative British Army actions were well behind us,” Mr Kirk said.

“I was very disappointed and distressed by the behaviour.

“It will do nothing to foster good relations between the army and the residents of south Armagh,” he said.

© 2007 Irish Republican News