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1 August 2002 Edition

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Details of demilitarisation needed

Conor Murphy has called on the British government to publish the details of a rolling programme of demilitarisation as promised by the then Chief Constable in January 2002.

"As part of the Good Friday Agreement, the British government promised to publish an overall strategy dealing with the demilitarisation of all areas in the north," said the Newry/Armagh Assembly member. "The British Secretary of State was to consult regularly with the Irish government and the political parties to report any progress.

"Unfortunately this has not happened at all. We are still waiting on the publication of this strategy. In January 2002 the then Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan announced that a number of military installations were to be removed as part of a rolling programme of demilitarisation in the north. In South Armagh, the British Army post at Glassdrumman is the only installation to have been removed completely. Apart from a partial dismantling of some military posts there still remains a British Army spy-post on virtually every hilltop in this area. We have not experienced a reduction in British military activity. In fact, Sinn Féin offices are inundated with complaints about the level of helicopter flights and increased British Army military patrols.

"The British government's stated excuse for deployment of troops is their response to the level of violence in areas. Loyalist paramilitaries have murdered each other in feuds and openly strut about their areas firing guns in the air around the 11th July night bonfires. There have been at least 363 attacks against Catholics in the last three months during which Loyalist death squads in the interface areas of Belfast have killed nationalists and yet we have not seen any visible strengthening of British army activity in Loyalist areas.

"In contrast, there is no justifiable reason for the huge military presence in South Armagh. People have not experienced the benefits of the Peace Process and still remain sceptical that the British government will make any moves to dismantle its military presence from this area.

"I am calling on the British government to publish this promised rolling programme of demilitarisation for this area. I am also asking the Southern government to give details of any consultations taking place on this subject."

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An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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