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2 March 2000 Edition

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US politician horrified at South Armagh occupation

California State Senator Tom Hayden recently spent two days in South Armagh on a fact-finding mission at the invitation of the South Armagh Farmers and Residents Committee (SAFRC). He had previously visited the area in August last, when he promised to return. The senator, who was visiting the Six Counties for seven days, visited South Armagh twice. He was visibly shocked at the ongoing remilitarisation of the area, given the almost five-year cessation situation. Following a meeting with the SAFRC, Hayden voiced his concerns.

``Because South Armagh is more and more the test of British intentions in Ireland, the question should be asked of the British military, is the war over?'' he said. ``From the look of the heavy military occupation in South Armagh, it appears that the British Army is here to stay permanently and the implications for the Peace Process are serious regarding this.

``How can the British and unionist campaign for IRA decommissioning be anything but a public relations exercise, when they are strengthening the fortifications and continuing to patrol all over South Armagh?'' He urged more visitors to come to South Armagh representing international public opinion and promised to bring his findings to public awareness in the USA and to the highest level within the US Government.
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