British Army fires on vehicle at checkpoint
A British soldier opened fire during an incident at a border
checkpoint in south Armagh at the weekend.
A soldier manning a joint military and police checkpoint just
over half a mile south of Crossmaglen fired two shots in the
early hours of Saturday morning.
There were no injuries or arrests in the incident, which is
thought to have involved a speeding car.
A British military spokesman said the soldier responsible had
not been suspended, and suggested the shots were fired in
He said: "The rules of engagement hinge upon the threat to one's
own life or someone else's."
Asked about the nature of the perceived threat was, the
spokesman added: "I think the police and ourselves would be
concerned at any breach of a vehicle checkpoint or anyone not
respecting the validity of a checkpoint in trying to maintain
law and order."
Three weeks ago, two cars drove through checkpoints during a
road safety operation in Crossmaglen.
Sinn Fein assembly member Conor Murphy said the latest incident
underlined his party's case that the British army should leave
"They are not wanted in south Armagh and should be withdrawn
immediately," he said.
"Indications would suggest this was some sort of road traffic
incident and yet the British army respond by firing live rounds.
It is completely unacceptable."
Mr Murphy questioned whether allegations that cars were driving
at speed through checkpoints in the South Armagh area were
"At a time when Sinn Fein have placed the issue of British army
demilitarisation at the heart of the political agenda many local
people are questioning the validity of reports, all of which
emanate from the British Army or PSNI press operations, about a
number of cars breaking through checkpoints in the Crossmaglen
area," he said.
There had been more of these incidents reported in the last
three months than in the previous 10 years," he pointed out.
"There is a feeling locally that many of these stories about
British soldiers diving into hedges or receiving injuries from
passing cars are fantasy and part of a very clear agenda to
justify the continuing presence of the British military in south
Armagh," he added.
A British army press officer described Mr Murpy's comments as
"I sincerely hope these suggestions are not representative of
the views of a political party claiming to hold a democratic
mandate in a society where law and order will prevail," he said.
"Police and soldiers have been perilously close to serious
injury or worse as a result of dangerous driving by individuals
bent on avoiding - for whatever reason - vehicle checkpoints."
Mr Murphy said he had hit a "raw nerve" with the British Army.
The British Army did not represent anyone in Ireland, he added.
"They are an occupying force who continue to terrorise
nationalist communities across the six counties. British Army
checkpoints in South Armagh are nothing to do with the rule of
law. Like their fortresses and helicopter flights they are about
domination, intimidation and terror.
"The British Army may have a desire to continue occupying South
Armagh and other republican heartland's, they may have a desire
to continue firing live rounds at local civilians but Sinn Fein
will continue to demand that the British government honour their
commitments and remove their war apparatus and their personnel
from our communities."