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British Army comments on demilitarisation an insult to peoples intelligence

21 July, 2004

Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey has said that an announcement by the British Army GOC in Ireland pretending that he is taking demilitarisation moves 'insults the intelligence of every citizen'.

Mr Maskey said:

"In short today's announcement from the British GOC on troop levels contains the following pieces of rationalisation. He is announcing that two regiments one currently based in Colchester and the other currently based in Inverness will no longer be under his command. No mention of the 15,000 troops actually stationed here. He also announces that due to wider Navy cuts that three vessels who have been patrolling the Irish Sea since 1998, 4years after the IRA cessation will be withdrawn.

"Only the British government could possibly believe that anybody will buy an announcement that two regiments based and living in England and Scotland changing their command structures is demilitarisation. It is not and this announcement insults the intelligence of every citizen here still living under military occupation.

"The NIO are attempting to make a virtue out of the necessity which is wider defence cuts. This is not the process of demilitarisation which the British agreed to on Good Friday and which people across this island demanded through referenda. The fact that the British government have almost twice as many troops actually stationed in Ireland ten years after the IRA cessation than they have in the middle of a war zone in Iraq says all that needs to be said about the British approach to its demilitarisation commitments." ENDS

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