14 January 1999 Edition

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Ingram runs with military agenda

Toni Carragher of the South Armagh Farmers and Residents Committee has expressed her anger at the failure of NIO security minister Adam Ingram to take seriously the concerns of local people about the heavy militarisation of the South Armagh area, ``the most heavily militarised area of Western Europe''.

Mrs Carragher said that in a letter to Newry and Mourne Council, dated 4 December 1998, and which SAFRC obtained, Ingram ``fails to address helicopter noise, health concerns about equipment used in the bases, the invasion of people's privacy, the animal deaths, the harassment and the continuing detrimental impact on tourism and inward investment''.

Ingram further angered local residents by saying that no complaints have been received by the RUC about checkpoints and low flying helicopters.

Mrs Carragher said, ``Adam Ingram is well aware that these issues have been the source of much annoyance and many complaints''. She added that it is irrelevant that complaints have not been made to the RUC, saying, ``complaints are not made to the RUC because local people have no faith that a complaint to the RUC will lead to any change in the situation''.

Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement the British government is obliged to publish their demilitarisation policy by now. However, nine months on there is a continuing military build-up in the area. Mrs Carragher said that on Sunday 10 January locals observed a large amount of building material being airlifted to two look-out posts on the Drumuckavall mountain on the Louth/Armagh border.

``These posts have only recently had extra cameras fitted. This flies in the face of Ingram's assertion that there has been a reduction in the number of personnel on the ground. The experiences of people in South Armagh since the IRA ceasefire is of a marked increase in British army/RUC patrols, checkpoints, and helicopter flights''.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1