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27 November 1997 Edition

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Dismantle spy post

By Mick Naughton.

Three bands led a rain-bedraggled crowd of determined marchers in north Belfast last Sunday afternoon. They were demanding the removal of the British spy post from the top of the twelve storey Teach Meabha flats.

After winding down from the assembly point in Ardoyne the marchers were greeted in the New Lodge by Sinn Féin talks delegate Francie Molloy who had travelled from east Tyrone.

From the spy posts at Glassdrummond in south Armagh to the New Lodge Road local residents have been demanding the removal of these hideous blots on the landscape.

Every aspect of local life is observed by British soldiers inside these heavily fortified installations, the intrusion into normal life an unwelcome feature of what those living in prospersous middle class areas call `peace.'

Chaired by north Belfast Sinn Fein councillor Mick Conlon proceedings were kept to a minimum given the wintery weather conditions. Molloy reminded everyone that as long as these spy posts exist, ``we will be here to oppose them.''

He pointed to the minimalist approach taken by the British. ``Confidence-eroding measures like the refortification of these posts are continuing. They should stop and the troops removed to barracks pending their ultimate removal from the Irish landscape. Whether it's the confiscation of an Armagh farmer's land or the use of nationalist residents in north Belfast as human shields on top of these multistorey flats,'' he said, ``it is wrong.''

Molloy added that it was through on the ground mobilisations like this that people could take ownership of the peace process.

``I want the British forces to be sick and sore of the sight of people objecting to their presence and highlighting the absence of our comrades and friends in jails, not only in Ireland, but especially those incarcarated in England and America.

Peace with justice means the real justice of being able to live without helicopters landing to resupply spyposts, a young mother being able to use a lift to her home without the power being switched off at the whim of some foreign soldier, leaving her to struggle up 11 flights of stairs with her children.

``Recently we were again treated to the media describing the Iraqi leader Saddam using human shields. Well, what's the difference here?''
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