FAIR
Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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26.03.07
Republican Terror in South Armagh

Whilst the two governments are trying to force unionists into a power-sharing arrangement with Sinn Fein/IRA events on the ground serve to highlight the sheer folly of such a move now. FAIR has been monitoring events in South Armagh for almost ten years and this grass roots analysis has proven invaluable to unionist political parties.In line with a commitment given by the DUP we have continued to do this specifically testing Republicans commitment in the aftermath of their recent alleged espousal of support for the police. In negotiations before the election senior members of the DUP gave clear assurances to victims that they would not allow Sinn Fein/IRA into an executive before a credible testing period was undertaken. When pressed by victims what exactly this meant we were told that this would be necessary to ensure complete community confidence in Republicans commitments by word and deed to end criminality, support the police, security forces and criminal justice system. Groups such as ourselves undertook to monitor Republican behaviour and report back to the political parties to give them a clear picture of Republican activity on the ground.

In the wake of increased Sinn Fein/IRA activity in recent weeks we have had to bring forward the date of publication to highlight the serious nature of default to date by the Republican movement. A summary of the illegal activities makes for worrying reading, especially when all commentators expected Republicans to be on their best behaviour for this period to create the illusion of compliance, this false level of inactivity and compliance would many believed deteriorate as time passed but would be enough to fool their political opponents and satisfy the governments. Most shockingly this has not even happened, at a time when we all expected Sinn Fein/IRA to tighten their grip on their communities in the wake of their election success and in the knowledge that they must at least achieve a short term good bill of health, they appear unwilling or unable to do this.

If this is Republican goo behaviour then we must all worry about what the coming months and years will bring. The Report includes accounts of a number of terrorist operations including a show of strength followed by a stop and search operation on the Concession Road where an armed Active Service Unit comprised of up to 20 terrorists took control of the area. They conducted a vehicle check point for a period of time in a clear show of their continuing presence and activity in the area. On Friday night there were reports of automatic gunfire on the outskirts of Crossmaglen in what is believed to have been a ‘come-on’ tactic to lure police and security forces into an ambush. The gunfire was reported by security force sources to have been automatic which implied the used of automatic weapons namely rifles such as armalites or AK-47s which underscored the PIRA’s failure to dcommission. After a week of attacks the police were wary and chose not to respond and when that tactic did not work Republicans attacked the police station. In a prolonged assault up to 50 petrol and other blast bombs were hurled at the station. One can only imagine the outcome if the same weapons had been turned on a police patrol if they had responded to the come on tactic.

This has as we warned led to a change in police patrolling, despite the high hopes of normalisation by the police their initial honey-moon period in Crossmaglen seems to be over. We would now call for an increased army presence to ensure that police lives are not put at risk as they continue their duties. For many of our members who served in the late 1960s and early 1970s in areas like South Armagh there is a real sense of de ja vu. This was exactly the type of continuous low intensity violence that the police faced then which given the tight circumstances led to escalation and murder. We will not pay the same price again, politicians and governments have trusted Sinn Fein/IRA before and have been cruelly let down, we as victims are the result of that misplaced trust. It is our experiences with Republicans before and now that makes us sceptical of their intentions, lofty words mean little when we continue to see their violence on the streets. The events in Crossmaglen cannot be underestimated the prolonged and murderous attacks on the security forces as they guarded a stricken helicopter are reminiscent of scenes from Iraq or another war zone. There can be only one of two conclusions we reach from this event, either Sinn Fein/IRA are unable or they are unwilling to stop such criminality, either way they have much work to do to convince their victims that they have changed.

 



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