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13 July 2000 Edition

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Prominent visitors witness South Armagh militarisation

South Armagh is a focus of international attention not due to its picturesque landscape but to the fact that it is the most militarised area in all of Western Europe. This year has seen many prominent US and Canadian politicians, lawyers and observers visit the area to witness what locals have to endure all year round.

Several sponsored tours to the United States and Canada by Declan Fearon and Toni Carragher, chairperson and secretary/PRO, respectively, of the South Armagh Small Farmers and Residents Committee (SAFRC), have proved productive, creating an interest in North America about occupied South Armagh.

This past week has seen visits by US Congressman Donal Payne, President of the Irish American Unity Conference Jim Gallagher and three retired US Army judges, Brigadier General Jim Cullen, Brigadier General Richard O'Meara and Colonel Dennis Geoghan.

The influential visitors, currently on the Garvaghy Road as international observers, contacted SAFRC, prior to their arival to schedule a visit to South Armagh, take a tour of the area and witness the further heavy deployment of British troops and RUC and the military installations that festoon the area. Meetings where held to discuss the effects the Crown forces have had on the farming industry, tourism and economic investment. Also discussed was the potential health threat posed by the radiation emitted from surveillance and infra-red cameras.

Several bus tours, arranged by John Fogarty and John Fitzgerald of the Irish Ameerican Unity Conference are taking place this month. A delegation from Canada, including Canadian parliamentarians, will arrive later this week.

The South Armagh Farmers and Residents Committee has welcomed these visits. Spokesperson Toni Carragher said they would continue to do ``everything within our power to expose to the world at large the extent of British and RUC occupation in our area, which seriously breaches the terms of the Good Friday Agreement''.
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