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British climb down on Crossmaglen land grab

28 July, 2006

Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy has welcomed a climb down by the British government over plans by the PSNI to steal land adjacent to Crossmaglen Square. The majority of land owners have now been issued with letters informing them that the plans to vest their land have been abandoned. The U-turn comes after a campaign led by Sinn Féin and the local residents which involved meetings at the highest levels of both the British and Irish governments.

Mr Murphy said:

"During our discussions with the two governments in recent weeks it became very obvious that the PSNI could not construct any rational argument for stealing the land adjacent to Crossmaglen Square currently occupied by the British military. We have raised this matter with both Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern directly and our TDs visited the area and raised the issue in the Dail.

"I have now been informed by the British government that letters are to be issued to the majority of land owners informing them that the PSNI attempt to steal their land has been abandoned. It is clear that this decision has been taken by the British government after the representations we have made and conflicts with the stated intentions of the Policing Board and PSNI. There remains an issue of land belonging to the bakery which the PSNI are still insisting on stealing a portion of ,and we will be in contact with the land owners in that case to discuss our next move.

"I welcome that fact that the British government have been forced into a U-turn on this issue but the reality remains that the land owners should not have been placed in this situation in the first place.

"Sinn Féin will continue to monitor closely the British military disengagement from the six counties and we will continue to insist that all occupied land is returned to its rightful owners." ENDS

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