Derry Journal

Last West Bank Army Base To Go

Friday 10th December 2004

The last remaining British Army base on the West Bank of the Foyle, adjacent to the Masonic Hall in Bishop Street, will close in the very near future, THE JOURNAL has learned.

It is also envisaged that the police barracks at Rosemount will also close as part this week's failed peace deal.

Last night Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin confirmed that it was intended to close the British Army base first.

He said: "This is something we have been in negotiations with Tony Blair, his adviser and Hugh Orde about for some time. It has been agreed that the base at the Masonic Hall is to go soon and initially it was envisaged that it would be about 18 months down the line before Rosemount also closed. "However, we told both governments that this simply was not good enough and that we wanted the closure of both bases to take place as soon as possible. So we are confident that in the very near future the west bank of the Foyle will be a British Army free area."

The British Army have been installed at the Bishop Street base since the early 1970's and in 1996 one of the controversial masts was built there with local people claiming that it would enable the British Army to spy on a wide area of the city.

During the time in the base the British Army have come under various gun and bomb attacks from all the various Republican groups in the city.

Last week it was revealed that the man who owns a large part of the land the base is built on was hoping to build a tourist facility there once the base is handed back to him.

In 1989 Joe McLaughlin, who owned the Gate Bar beside the base, was informed by the British Secretary of State that his land was being taken over by the British army.

The area where the bar used to be was then incorporated into the British Army base.

Last year hopes were raised that the base was about to close when a lot of construction work was noticed around the site.

The appearance of a large crane sparked rumours that the watchtower was to be dismantled.

But an Army spokesman said that the crane was on the site to erect and gangway allowing troops to carry out maintenance work on the roof of the base.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?