PSNI back down on land seizures
PSNI back down on land seizures

The PSNI has been forced into a climbdown over plans to make residents in Crossmaglen, County Armagh hand over valuable land to the force.

Controversy erupted last month when it emerged that the PSNI intended to claim ground first taken by the British army from local residents in the early 1970s.

The PSNI claimed it needed the land to build a “fit-for-purpose” station in the small village.

Nationalist parties condemned the attempted land grab when details of the plan were revealed.

Last week, several residents of the town were informed by letter that the PSNI no longer intended to claim their land and that the land was being returned to them.

It is understood the Irish government had taken an interest in the controversy.

A Sinn Féin delegation, including Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy and Newry councillors Pat McGinn and Terry Hearty, met direct-rule minister Paul Goggins to discuss the issue last week.

Terry Hearty said the meeting had been “frank and straight-talking”.

“At that meeting, we made it very clear as to the anger within the community about the blatant attempt by the PSNI to steal land from people.

“We also said that, on a broader front, these actions had cast a doubt about the commitment of demilitarisation and the removal of military-type barracks from the area.”


Meanwhile, a council by-election in the nearby Fews ward has been branded a waste of money by Sinn Féin, which comfortably held the seat.

Turlough Murphy, the brother of Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy defeated anti-republican lobbyist and ‘Love Ulster’ organiser Willie Frazer by more than 2,500 votes.

Mr Murphy said he was angry that the by-election had taken place at all, saying it was not a serious poll which had cost taxpayers thousands.

“The result here today clearly shows that William Frazer was never a credible candidate despite his endorsement by the unionist groupings on Newry and Mourne council,” said Mr Murphy.

Both the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Ulster Unionists refused to stand candidates giving Mr Frazer a clear run. However, he was only able to poll 1,427 votes compared to Mr Murphy’s 4,092. The SDLP also refused to contest the by-election.

Newry and Mourne MP Conor Murphy said Mr Frazer’s views had been soundly rejected.

“The media now need to recognise the fact that Willie Frazer has no mandate to speak on behalf of people in south Armagh,” said Mr Murphy.

“He has no mandate to speak on behalf of victims. He is selfappointed and has unfortunately been given airtime, time and again, denied to elected representatives, to promote his narrow political agenda.

“Willie Frazer has now put his views to the people of south Armagh and had them rejected. Now let those who have promoted him acknowledge that fact.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News