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8 July 1999 Edition

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South Armagh Concerned parents

A new group, calling itself Concerned Parents, has been elected by parents of pupils attending St. Brigid's Primary School in Glassdrummond near Crossmaglen, South Armagh to protect their children from the threat caused by British army activities.

The committee was formed following a meeting on Tuesday 21 June with parents, teachers, school principal Tony A. Kieran, and local priest Fr Clarke, representing the Board of Governors.

This move follows a series of incidents involving British army helicopters, one of the most serious of which occurred in April, when a chopper almost crash landed on top of the primary school while the children and teaching staff were in class. This narrow escape left parents very anxious. The British army initially denied the incident, although they later admitted they were flying in poor weather conditions.

According to Patrick Hearty, newly elected chairperson, ``health and safety are of the utmost importance... this matter needs to be addressed and the sooner the better.

``In the last two years, there have been four crash landings in the South Armagh area, the last previous incident was in November 1998, in the Crievekeeran area just outside Crossmaglen.''

Parents at the meeting pointed out that there is a serious threat to the health of local children from the radiation emanating from the many infra-red cameras and other pieces of surveillance equipment which are in place at the Glassdrummond post.

Professor Roger Coghill, a world radiation expert, recently said that research on brain disorders in South Armagh, carried out five years ago, is now being vindicated by mainstream science. Coghill had studied links between the levels of brain haemorrhages and leukaemia in the area and and microwave radiation emitted by British army surveillance equipment.

The committee voted to seek an urgent meeting with the Southern Education & Library Board's Health and Safety Department as well as to compile and present a full report to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin.

Speaking on behalf of St. Brigid's, Principal Tony A. Kieran pledged his full support to the new committee in its campaign to have all helicopter flights restricted from flying over the school, the elimination of all surveillance equipment pointing directly down at the children, and an end to foot patrols while children are going to and leaving the school.

GUE-NGL-new-Jan-2106

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