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20 August 1998 Edition

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Bessbrook militarisation stepped up

The South Armagh Farmers and Residents Committee (SAFRC) has contacted the Taoiseach's office and the Dublin Office of Foreign Affairs concerning the intimidation of a Bessbrook family by crown forces.

In October 1996 the British Army closed High Street in Bessbrook with a series of concrete bollards, later replacing them with a large gate outside Mr Felix Woods and his family's home. The constant noise and pollution from British army and RUC jeeps have exacerbated Mr Woods son's asthma and has also inflicted on him bouts of depression which have affected his ablity to work.

An SAFRC spokesperson has denied crown forces claims that such `security' installations were erected after consultation with residents ``All land and sites have been taken at gunpoint,'' they said.

A report on the matter is being sent to Direct Ruler, Mowlam and to Adam Ingram for their response. The `American Human Rights' organisation have also been informed, together with US Congressman Peter King, who will raise the matter in the House of Representatives, and who will act to put pressure on the British government.

In a related development, SAFRC have contacted the Dublin government over the erection of 25 feet high steel barriers and concrete bollards late on Wednesday night 12 August on the Green Road and Fountain Street in Bessbrook.

Local Sinn Fein Assembly member, Pat McNamee, was only informed of this provocative operation by the British army after they had commenced the work.

The SAFRC has also been highlighting a study by the United States Air Force, published in the August 1997 issue of the British Medical Journal, that exposure to jet fuel can produce serious neurological problems. These can include, headaches, slurred speech, nausea, sensor motor dysfunction and reduced attention span.

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