2 August 2001 Edition
Brits saturate Adavoyle, South Armagh
On Wednesday morning 25 July a large military operation, including major helicopter activity, was mounted by the British Army in the Adavoyle area in South Armagh. British troops began to saturate the area near to the football field at 7am and this was still ongoing at 12 noon. ``Helicopters swooped so low at times that they nearly touched the rooftops of nearby buildings,'' said Sinn Féin councillor Packie McDonald. ``People standing in the area were very frightened and cattle in fields were stampeded because of the noise and downdraught of the rotar blades on the helicopters. Side roads were sealed off and a military robot was unloaded from one of the helicopters.''
The reason given for the operation was that ``something suspicious'' was seen the previous day. ``This area is in direct view of a watch-tower,'' points out McDonald. `` What function do these spy-posts serve in this area if it takes a whole day to respond to something that they have observed? Residents here in South Armagh believe that this is nothing more than an ongoing training exercise for the British Army. I am calling for the immediate withdrawal of British troops back to their barracks in England. They serve no other purpose here except to intimidate and harass the people of South Armagh.''
Sinn Féin councillor for the Drum Manor area of Cookstown in County Tyrone, Oliver Molloy, has called for the immediate withdrawal of British Army forces from the Kileenan and Kildress areas.
``Over the past weeks we have had several reports of harassment at checkpoints and of constant helicopter activity,'' he said. ``This type of military activity is unwelcome and totally unacceptable. We are supposed to be in a peace process here but the British Army seem intent on aggravating the situation at any opportunity. This is a quiet rural area where people want to get on with their lives free from the intimidation and harassment they experienced for many years''.
Molloy says he has reported several instances of harassment to local MP, Martin McGuinness, who assured him he would raise the matter with the Dublin government and the British Secretary of State, John Reid.