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4 February 1999 Edition

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Demilitarise now

South Armagh is the most militarised area in Western Europe. The 23,000 people there are, say the South Armagh Farmers and Residents Committee, the most searched, stopped and spied upon in the world. There is a spypost, bristling with the latest hi-tech surveillance equipment, for every thousand people in that rural area. The construction continues. And the frequency of British Army and RUC patrolling and mobile checkpoints with their attendant harassment have risen since the IRA declared a ceasefire.

Normal life is impossible in South Armagh. Tourist and business investment are hamstrung because neither business nor visitors want to come to a military zone. Added to all this is the constant invasion of privacy and the health scares caused by the surveillance equipment.

This is all happening nine months after the Good Friday Agreement was signed. At a time when rapid steps should have been made to demilitarise and to build up the political institutions on which confidence in the future could be secured, the British government has dragged its feet. It has allowed those opposed to the positive, progressive elements of the Agreement to dictate the pace.

The people of South Armagh have said that that is not good enough. They are demanding that the yoke of military occupation is removed from their landscape. They are demanding a proper, peaceful future and that must begin with the removal of the oppressive, all-pervasive British military installations.

On Sunday they will protest at the Cloghogue checkpoint outside Newry. It is a symbolic location on the main Belfast to Dublin road. And, in a symbolic act, they will demolish a mock-up of a British spy-post. The large structure will be toppled as an expression of their desire to see their landscape rid of these monstrosities.

They deserve the support of all progessive people.

An Phoblacht Magazine


  • Don't miss your chance to get the first edition of 2019 published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of An Chéad Dáil and Soloheadbeg.
  • In this edition Gerry Adams sets out the case for active abstentionism, Mícheál Mac Donncha takes us back to January 21st 1919, that fateful day after which here was no going back and Aengus Ó Snodaigh gives an account of the IRA attack carried out on the same day of the First Dáil, something that was to have a profound effect on the course of Irish history.
  • There are also articles about the aftermath of the 8th amendment campaign, the Rise of the Right and the civil rights movement.

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