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18 June 1998 Edition

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Nationalists warned

Sinn Fein's Martina McIlkenny has called on nationalists to be aware of plainclothes British soldiers coming into their areas.

Ms McIlkenny's call comes after four Scottish soldiers stationed at Ballykinler British army barracks in County Down met some local women from the New Lodge in Belfast last weekend and came back to the area for a party in one of their houses.

The British soldiers told the women that three of them were working as painters while the fourth said he worked with travel agents Lunn Poly.

That the quartet were British soldiers only came to light when a local taxi driver who was called to pick them up and bring them to Ballynahinch ended up dropping them at Ballykinler.

During the journey the driver chatted to one of the men, who called himself Andy, and he repeated that three worked as painters while he himself was a Lunn Poly rep.

However on arrival at the County Down town Andy directed the driver to go on towards Newcastle then Tyrella.

The driver told An Phoblacht that although he was beginning to get suspicious he was not overly concerned as three of the four were asleep because they were drunk. Andy was the only one awake and he was wearing only a shirt and couldn't have been concealing a weapon.

The driver said that he arrived at the gate of the British army base and Andy directed him towards the entrance, but the driver ordered them out.

``They asked to be brought right in,'' the driver said, ``but I told them to get out and drove away. I had been paid before this.''

Ms McIlkenny stressed that even though this incident seems to have no sinister undertones, ``it was a worry that serving British soldiers would venture into nationalist areas. It may not be so innocent the next time''.

Ms McIlkenny added that `Andy' had told the driver he had also drank in Caffrey's Bar on the Falls Road.

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An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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