AP front 1 - 2022

8 February 2001 Edition

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British Army angers border communities

Angry residents in County Louth are calling on the Dublin government to investigate British Army incursions into the 26 Counties along the South Armagh border. The call came after a British Army helicopter landed and eight soldiers disembarked in Meigh last Sunday afternoon.

Local people say this is the latest in a series of recent incursions by British troops. Late last year a County Louth resident confronted a British Army foot patrol which had crossed the border at Edentubber.

Another British incursion, this time into Donegal, is being investigated by the British Secretary of State, John Reid. A foot patrol of Paratroopers was spotted crossing the border at Belleek last Friday.

Local Sinn Féin Assembly member Michelle Gildernew and party colleague Donegal councillor Michael McMahon held a press conference in Belleek to highlight the ongoing intimidation from the Parachute Regiment along the Fermanagh border in recent weeks.

``It is not the first time that a regiment of the British Army has crossed the border . Each time we get the standard British Army excuse that it was `an accident' or that their personnel were `lost','' said McMahon, ``but this will not wash.''

There have been an increasing number of complaints by residents about the Parachute regiment in Fermanagh, said Gildernew. ``These have included a number of assaults on young people and threats being issued,'' she said.

Last week, a 13-year-old school boy received hospital treatment after a para gripped him by the throat. Fergal Hughes was making his way home from St Joseph's high school to Lismore, Crossmaglen when he was taunted and grabbed.

The boy said a soldier had made fun of him because he was whistling as he walked home alone. When Fergal tried to pass the paratrooper the soldier had gripped him by the throat. He was released after ``two fellas'' shouted at the soldier to let the child go. His mother described her son as ``terrified, really frightened'' by the incident.

This assault took place days after four teenagers were involved in a confrontation with members of the same regiment in the town. An 18-year-old was knocked unconscious.

``If the British government had lived up to their responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement regarding demilitarisation,'' said Michelle Gildernew, ``then we would not be in this situation. The British war machine would have been dismantled and this regiment and their colleagues returned to their bases in England.''


An Phoblacht
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