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Sunday, 28 October, 2001, 18:50 GMT
Violent protest at army watchtower
Protest at watch tower
Protesters confronted security officers at the tower
Six police officers have been injured during confrontations between Sinn Fein supporters and the security forces at an army observation post in south Armagh.

Police in riot gear came under attack with stones, bottles and fireworks as protestors calling for demilitarisation tried to breach the security fences at the post at Glassdrummond, near Crossmaglen on Sunday.

Three army watchtowers are being removed from the area as part of the government's response to IRA decommissioning.

Ulster Unionist Party assembly member Danny Kennedy condemned those responsible.


A very thorough investigation into the criminality of today's events will now ensue

Bob Cargin RUC Chief Inspector

"Everybody has a responsibility at this point in time, particularily those who call themselves the leadership of the republican movement, to make sure that no events take place that would raise community tensions," he said.

However, organisers rejected suggestions that the government had already responded to IRA decommissioning by making a start to demilitarisation and before there could be a further military scaledown more republican arms would have to be put beyond use.

"They are taking away one small post from the side of Sturgan mountain and they are taking one small post from Camlough mountain, said Toni Carraher of the South Armagh Farmers and Residents Group.

"That is not demilitarisation, that is only window dressing."

RUC Chief Inspector Bob Cargin said a full investigation into the incident was under way.

Toni Carraher
Toni Carraher: "This is not demilitarisation"

"We fully accept that people have a legitimate right to peaceful protest," he said.

"However, when that protest becomes violent or involves criminality, then that protest becomes unlawful.

"The behaviour of the protestors today was disgraceful. The police and army were attacked with rocks, boulders, and metal spikes.

Reinforcements

"A very thorough investigation into the criminality of today's events will now ensue."

Two men with angle grinders cut down security cameras at a nearby roadside.

Some protesters attacked the police with metal fence poles and attempts were made at several points around the perimeter fence to breach the barbed wire defences.

The crowd confronted the police for about half hour before reinforcements arrived from other watchtowers in the area.

The protest organisers said there would be similar demonstrations in the weeks ahead.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NIs Conor McAuley reports:
"The organisers said they were protesting at the slow pace of demilitarisation in the area"

Assembly back

IRA arms breakthrough

Background

Loyalist ceasefire

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SPECIAL REPORT: IRA

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See also:

25 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Scaling down in south Armagh
24 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Reid announces NI security cuts
24 Oct 01 | NI Deadlock
Putting arms beyond use
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