29 July 2005

'Wait and see' attitude in south Armagh

Belfast Telegraph

By Patsy McArdle
29 July 2005

"The soldiers are still walking our streets, they're stopping traffic in the roads and they've these spy posts on the hills ... it's now up to the Brits to call it a day."

That was the view yesterday evening of a woman in one of the busiest stores in Crossmaglen, the south Armagh hot-bed of the IRA campaign since 1969.

Patrons in the town's pubs were glued to television screens and one regular mused: "It's funny, but this was the only day we didn't have the police on the streets in a good while".

Republicans in south Armagh are known to have been among those in the last echelon of the IRA campaign to support the call by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to give diplomacy a chance.

And there were real fears a fortnight ago of a serious change of heart by some hardliners after an 8-man British army patrol strayed across the border into the Republic - at Rassan in Co Louth.

On that occasion, a number of locals gathered hastily and engaged in a brief stone-throwing episode before the troops, accompanied by two PSNI officers, moved quickly back into Northern Ireland.

Yesterday, one prominent republican activist in Crossmaglen, who asked not to be named, said: "We just hope it will work ? but we will honour the republican code and abide by everything in the IRA statement".

"The ball is now with the Brits; they will have to move out and demolish these hilltop spy posts."

Locals have strongly objected over the years to three observation posts, which still remain some two miles apart, along the Louth and Monaghan border.

In Crossmaglen some residents said last night the focus by the security will remain on the role of dissident republicans.

One said: "The Real IRA and Continuity IRA may be insignificant at the moment but what happens next will depend on how this settlement goes."

Comments:
"The soldiers are still walking our streets, they're stopping traffic in the roads and they've these spy posts on the hills ... it's now up to the Brits to call it a day."

...an unfortunate choice of words , I presume (and hope!) : by pulling out of South Armagh , the Brits will NOT be "...calling it a day .. " : that will only happen when they pull out of Ireland .

Sharon .
 
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