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24 August 2000 Edition

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US Senator visits South Armagh

The South Armagh Farmers and Residents Committee (SAFRC) hosted a visit to the area by US Senator Chris Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut. As a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has been active in the peace process and felt it necessary to visit South Armagh on a fact-finding mission to see first hand the British aspect of the Good Friday Agreement.

Senator Dodd met with Sinn Féin's Assembly member Mick Murphy, who also accompanied the Senator on the tour of South Armagh with SAFRC. The Senator had the opportunity to meet with some business people in the area, notably Michael McConville from Crossmaglen and Seamus Watters of Watters Electrical in Culloville.

The Senator also met with Sinn Féin Councillor Patrick McDonald in Forkhill and discussed the increased number of Crown forces foot patrols in the area.

The Senator informed the SAFRC that he would be making his observations known to fellow Senate colleagues.


Ógra calls for end to harassment



Camlough-Bessbrook Ogra Shinn Féin have called on the British Army to end its campaign of intimidation and harassment towards the civlian population in Bessbrook. A spokesperson said: ``Added to the constant helicopter flights, RUC/British Army patrols have increased in the area in recent times. The situation is unacceptable and can only be solved by total demilitarisation in South Armagh.'' Ogra have stated that they intend to make this issue a priority and anyone who is willing to help can contact them at (028) 30839470.


Residents vow to oppose Royal Black parade



Nationalists have vowed to challenge a Parades Commission decision allowing the Royal Black Instition to parade at a tense interface. Residents are expected to make further representations to the Parades Commission about the proposed parade this Saturday along the lower Whitewell Road in Greencastle, on the outskirts of North Belfast.

The parade has been allowed to proceed along part of the lower Whitewell Road, a predominantly nationalist area. Residents' spokesperson Paul McKernon said he was ``disappointed but not totally surprised'' by the decision.

``The local nationalist Spirit of Freedom band filed to march twice this year, in April and August and was banned because the Parades Commission deemed the area too sensitive,'' he said. ``But it appears it is not too sensitive to allow loyalists to parade. It is a clear case of double standards.''


Residents of South Belfast left to clean up in aftermath of floods



The residents of the Ormeau area of South Belfast have once again been left to clean up the damage caused by the second flooding in less than a month.

Sinn Féin councillor for South Belfast, Sean Hayes, has accused the Department for Regional Development of ``gross incompetence'' after homes in the River Terrace area of the Ormeau Road were flooded in heavy rain on Monday.

``Because of the failure of DRD staff to activate a pump which would have cleared rain water, homes which were damaged in the last bout of heavy rain were again damaged today,'' he said.

``Given the fact that only last week the DRD agreed to compensate the owners of these homes for flood damage, it beggars belief that staff failed to throw a switch which would have activated a machine in place to prevent flooding.''

Hayes called for those responsible for the lack of action to be dismissed.
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