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Irish government to investigate British Army presence in Benone Beach

16 August, 2006

Sinn Féin East Derry MLA Francie Brolly will meet a senior Irish government official from the Department of Foreign Affairs today to discus the oppressive British Army presence in Magilligan Strand and Benone beach and the impact it has on the local community, tourism and fishing.

Mr Brolly said:

"Magilligan Strand and Benone beach stretch for seven miles. For three miles Benone is populated in the summer by sea anglers, surfers and sunbathers. It is a picturesque coastline that it is blighted by the presence of the British Army.

"Sinn Féin has raised this issue with both the British and Irish governments and the decision to send a senior Irish government official is hopefully a sign that there will be more pressure put on the British government to act.

"Across the sand dunes is the vast British Army base at Magilligan. The beach is fenced off and the area used as a British army firing range. On the opposite side of the Lough Greencastle is thriving. Local fishermen cannot fish the area without permission and at night British Army helicopters use the area to train.

"This four-mile stretch is a virtual no-go area. It is the local community that is losing out. We cannot develop tourism or develop the potential of fishing. The British government have made commitment on demilitarisation yet the situation here shows that they need to be fought every inch of the way to ensure that they live up to these commitments." ENDS

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