Irish Republican News · March 3, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
British Army occupation continues in South Armagh

An increased level of British army activity in south Armagh and the continuing refurbishment of military bases has angered residents who continue to live in the most militarised area in western Europe.

On Monday the area surrounding Silverbridge Road was sealed off by the British army because one of their lorries had overturned into a field.

It appears that a convoy of British Army vehicles were making their way from Newry to Crossmaglen in the early hours when a tanker left the road. The area was sealed off and a crane was brought in.

British Army helicopters flew low over homes in the area for several hours, shepherding troops to and from the scene.

South Armagh Sinn Féin Councillor Elena Martin hit out at the chaos.

``This sort of disruption is unfortunately not an unusual occurrence for people living in this area. However this does not make it any more acceptable.

``Ten years into a peace process people could justifiably expect that the days of low flying helicopter activity and military convoys to be at an end. They could justifiably expect the days of British Army road closures and harassment of local people to be a thing of the past.

``This incident is a timely reminder for people outside South Armagh that the days of military occupation are not over. That the British government continues to default upon its Good Friday Agreement commitments on demilitarisation at a time when they lecture republicans about alleged IRA activity.

``It is time for the British government to honour its commitments and removed the scourge of its military from this area and other areas across the six counties.''

Local residents are also angry that British army military bases in Forkhill, Bessbrook and Camlough Mountain are being refurbished.

At a meeting with both governments at Stormont on Tuesday, Sinn Féin Assembly Group Leader Newry/Armagh MLA, Conor Murphy protested against what he said was ``clear evidence that the British government has failed to fulfil commitments made to implement a rolling programme of demilitarisation. Instead we are witnessing remilitarisation.''

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© 2004 Irish Republican News