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6 January 2000 Edition

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Demilitarisation? What demilitarisation?

British accused of failing to honour Agreement



In a clear signal of intent not to honour their side of the Good Friday Agreement, the British security establishment used the Christmas and New Year period to step up their campaign of harassment against nationalists.

Sinn Féin's Newry and Armagh Assembly member, Conor Murphy, described the intrusion by the RUC at St Brigid's Primary School in Glassdrummond, South Armagh on Tuesday 21 December as arrogant and intimidatory.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, Murphy said: ``Our information is that the school principal expressly refused a request from the RUC to visit the school. The principal's wishes were ignored and the RUC arrived at the school unannounced and began distributing pro-RUC propaganda items to the children.

``Parents and children alike felt intimidated and are demanding that there be no recurrence of this intrusion into their schools.

``It should be remembered that the pupils of this school and their parents, just like those other schools in the area, have been subjected to continuous harassment from this so-called police force over many years. They have had to suffer the indignity of their every move being recorded through the array of video and listening devices deployed all around them. They have also been subjected to incessant helicopter flights disrupting their studies and social activities, not to mention the stop and search operations carried out daily by the RUC, who inflict the most foul sectarian abuse regularly accompanied by physical assault.

``The RUC, by its unwelcome intrusion into St Brigid's Primary School, are doing what they do best. They continue to ignore the wishes of the nationalist people when we say that they are not welcome in our schools or in our general community. They must stop this cynical use of our children to try to portray themselves as a normal police service.''

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin Vice President and West Tyrone Assembly member Pat Doherty has reacted angrily to an increase in British army patrols in the Omagh area over the festive period.

Doherty said: ``There was notable increase in British Army activity in the West Tyrone area over the Christmas period. On Christmas Day itself, a heavily armed British Army patrol was stopping and harassing people in Omagh Town. This sort of behaviour is clearly unacceptable and outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

``There is no reason for the British Army to be on the streets at all, let alone engaging in petty and vindictive harassment against local nationalists. Immediate moves on demilitarisation are required now and people on the ground must see these being translated into action.

``These sorts of patrols must cease, and the military apparatus including the watch towers and spyposts must be dismantled. These are not simply demands; they are obligations for the British government under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.''
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