Irish Republican News · May 10, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
South Armagh anger at police board exercise

Policing representatives called off a meeting in south Armagh today following fierce resistance from residents.

Members of the board for the Newry area were to gather in the staunchly republican village Forkhill, south Armagh, on Monday night. Following an emergency meeting, the authority postponed the event amid concerns about the level of opposition.

Campaigners in Forkhill said 98 per cent of villagers petitioned did not want the District Policing Partnership in their area.

Paul O’Brien, a spokesman for the residents’ group, said that there was a sense of relief after the DPP decided to postpone meeting in the village until an independent study could be carried out.

“This area in particular has suffered a lot by the constant PSNI and British military operations,” he said.

Mr O Brien said that allowing the meeting to go ahead would have given the police a “veneer of respectability by hosting a meeting which is no more than a public relations exercise”.

“The message that they hopefully have now got is that they are not the police service that our community requires and deserves,” he said.

With republicans still boycotting the new police arrangements, unionists on the authority accused Sinn Fen of orchestrating the plot.

Mr, Henry Reilly, an Ulster Unionist on the partnership, said: “They enjoy this Bandit Country tag that south Armagh has had, they don’t want to see normalisation.”

Forkhill residents who resent heavy police and military presence in the area denied the move was political.

Conor Murphy, Sinn Féin assembly member for Newry and Armagh, pledged his full support to the residents’ campaign.

“This is a spontaneous community response to attempts to try and give the false impression of acceptability,” Mr Murphy said.

“As we have said many times this is a strategy that will not succeed. The nationalist people of south Armagh are not so easily fooled.

“I call on the DPP to withdraw, go only where they are wanted, and this means not in south Armagh.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News