08 July 2005

British Parachute Regiment manouvres in North Louth

Sinn Féin

Published: 8 July, 2005

A British Army Puma helicopter landed in the Rassan area of North Louth at 8.40 pm on Thursday night last, 7th July 2005. Two heavily armed PSNI officers and 8 British paratroopers were dropped off in a field next to
the Dundalk/Derry road 3/4 miles south of the border. The helicopter then flew towards Co. Armagh, leaving the 10 members of the security forces behind in Co. Louth.

Within minutes, local residents who were alerted by the noise gathered at the scene and confronted the security forces. A number of motorists also stopped in the area. there have been reports that some people threw stones
at the paratroopers. At this point the Puma helicopter returned, landed in Co. Louth and collected the soldiers and PSNI officers. The helicopter then flew further south and hovered over a house. The lady of the house
went to her front door and witnessed a British paratrooper point his rifle at her while other soldiers made obscene gestures. The helicopter then returned to its base in Crossmaglen.

Local Sinn Féin Councillor Tomás Sharkey has reacted angrily to the incident;

"The border area is being saturated by British security forces who seem hellbent on inciting local communities. Only two weeks ago, a parachute regiment patrol waved a car through a checkpoint outside Crossmaglen and
then fired on it. The border communities are living in fear of this maverick behaviour.

"I do not accept that the helicopter was lost or simply off course. It flew over a British base at Drummucknavall, a local school, and the main Castleblayney road. I believe that the soldiers were on british army business in Co. Louth, attempting to either place or remove their own surveillance equipment. Irish people are well aware of the parachute regiments track record here.

"I met the junior minister for Foreign Affairs, Conor Lenihan only 2 hours after the incursion. His officials have been in contact with me and are waiting for a resonse from the British security forces. I made it clear to them that I will not accept yet another standard response on this issue. The Parachute Regiment are not welcome in County Louth."

Good luck waiting on Lenihan Jnr to take the Brits to task : if he does push for an answer , he will simply be told it was 'a map-reading error' . And he will accept that - after , of course , making the standard "..not good enough.. " noises expected of him ! Besides , he might say , the island IS very small and such 'mistakes' happen . Sure we can't all live on a small island , eh , Brian .... ?

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