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5 April 2007 Edition

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British army leaves South Armagh

Sinn Féin Newry/Armagh MP Conor Murphy

Sinn Féin Newry/Armagh MP Conor Murphy

The British Army began pulling the last of its troops out of South Armagh last week. Overflights by military helicopters are also to be stopped. A massive British Army watchtower, which overlooks Crossmaglen village, was dismantled last month.
Over the past three decades South Armagh has been the most militarised region in western Europe, with 3,000 British troops deployed in an area with a population of only 23,000.
During the course of the conflict, British forces faced fierce local resistance. Due to the successes of the IRA in the area, British soldiers were forced off the streets and out of the fields and had to travel by air.
Sinn Féin Newry/Armagh MP Conor Murphy has said that people in South Armagh would be delighted to see the British army occupation of their community come to an end with the departure of the British Crown Forces from Crossmaglen.
“This is a beautiful part of Ireland, with so much potential, that has been marred by the British Army presence” Murphy said.
“For over 30 years the community here in South Armagh has had to endure British Military occupation. Land was stolen and communities were repressed and continually harassed. Spy posts and other British military apparatus as well as British army helicopter activity blighted this area”, he said.
Murphy went on to say that Sinn Féin had made the demilitarisation of republican heartlands like South Armagh a political priority, putting this issue on the agenda and he was satisfied that the British Army occupation of South Armagh was now “finally coming to an end”.
“Lands stolen and occupied by the British must now be returned to their rightful owners and the larger sites vacated by the Crown Forces should be put to use for the benefit of the communities which have had to endure so much repression from the British Army throughout their unwelcome stay in South Armagh”, the MP said
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