[Sinn Fein]

16 October 1998

Demilitarisation must begin

Statement from Sinn Fein Assembly member for Newry and Armagh and spokesperson on demilitarisation Pat McNamee on yesterdays incursions over the border by a British Army spotter plane.

Mr. McNamee said:

``At around 14.30 yesterday a British Army spotter plane carrying surveillance equipment flew over the border in County Louth. The Guards at Hacksballcross said that permission for the surveillance flights had been granted by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin.

``After a number of inquiries the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin denied issuing such permission in this instance. Today in a related operation the Glassdrummand area has been sealed off on both sides of the border.

``This behaviour is in conflict with both the terms and spirit of the Good Friday Agreement. The British Government must speedily begin the process of demilitarisation. The South Armagh area in particular is still heavily militarised. The hill-side forts still remain in place and peoples lives are disrupted on a daily basis by the heavy military presence in the area. I will through my colleague Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD be raising these latest incidents with the Irish government, to ensure that there is no repetition.''

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