BELFAST, Northern Ireland – Reacting quickly to the Irish Republican Army’s peace declaration, Britain began dismantling military posts Friday in the border “bandit country” of South Armagh, the IRA’s rural heartland where it is still unsafe for troops to use the roads.
British army engineers flown in by helicopter began taking down a watchtower code-named “Romeo 1-2” atop Sugarloaf Hill less than a day after the outlawed IRA met international demands to declare its 1997 cease-fire permanent and to renounce violence.
First to be removed were the surveillance post’s high-tech cameras and directional microphones that monitored traffic on roads and eavesdropped on conversations.
Also earmarked for immediate closure were an army fort in the border village of Forkhill and a watchtower overlooking Newtownhamilton, the only village in South Armagh with a significant Protestant minority. British authorities said more closures would be unveiled within weeks.