Helicopter incident in South Armagh

A South Armagh man is lucky to be alive after a lump of concrete fell from a British Army helicopter onto his roof.

Patrick McQuade, from Forkhill, said the large lump of masonry had fallen from a container carried by a Chinook helicopter last Thursday. British Army engineers have been using the chopper to dispose of rubble from a hill-top spy post in south Armagh.

Mr McQuade was in the family home with his wife and two young children when the concrete struck.

Mr McQuade said last night: “I was at home with my wife, two-year-old son and four-year-old daughter, who were all sick, when we heard this unmerciful thump. My wife asked me if I heard it and I said ‘yes’.

“There was a helicopter going over our house at the time and my first thought was that something has fallen from it. I went outside and looked around the house but I didn’t think of looking up. I phoned the police in Bessbrook and told them about the low-flying helicopters.

“Later, when I went out again, I looked at the roof and found that a tile had been broken. I also noticed rubble sitting on the tile. When I looked in the lawn, I found several bits of rubble, cement and concrete. It obviously came from the helicopter. There has been a lot of helicopter activity here for about two months.

“Just two days before this, I was out cutting the lawn. If this had hit someone, it could have killed them.”

Local Sinn Fein councillor Anthony Flynn visited the McQuade family home.

“This had the potential to be an extremely serious incident where people could have been killed or badly hurt,” he said.

Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy said: “On this specific incident, a full explanation is required and we need to feel secure in the knowledge that something similar will not happen again.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News