More choppers over south Armagh
More choppers over south Armagh

There has been in increase in the number of helicopter patrols in the skies over south Armagh amid a debate over the possibility of a return of British Army foot patrols in the area.

A ‘Real IRA’ checkpoint in the village of Meigh last Friday has heightened fears among the Crown forces that ground patrols are under threat of attack in the Newry area.

The PSNI has admitted it has hired another helicopter to assist in its efforts to combat ‘dissident’ republicans.

It was reported last week that while officers who came across the ‘Real IRA’ show of strength, had access to rifles in their vehicles, not all had been trained to use the weapons.

There is now a perception in many areas that South Armagh has again become a no-go area for the PSNI.

There were also reports that the Real IRA group in Meigh carried a rocket launcher and rifles and may have also had a high-powered machine gun capable of downing helicopters.

The leaflets handed out by the Real IRA group warned motorists not to pass on information to the Crown forces or to Sinn Fein.

Meanwhile, a “crude but viable” bomb cound in County Armagh has been linked to dissidents.

The small device was found in the Windmill Hill area of Armagh city on Friday.

Sinn Fein assembly member Cathal Boylan called on those responsible for the latest device to “explain the rationale” for their actions.

He said news that it was viable was “extremely worrying”.

“I am calling on the spokespeople from the various dissident organisations to explain the rationale for leaving a viable device in Armagh,” he said.

“These micro groups must explain to the community, without any further delay, why they have endangered the lives of the people in this city?”

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