Belfast Telegraph

Unionists' fury at closure of army base
Decision 'simply beggars belief'

By Ashleigh Wallace
27 January 2005

The political fallout surrounding the decision to close a military base in Dungannon with the subsequent removal of 500 soldiers continued today.

And as expected, while the SDLP and Sinn Fein welcomed the closure, both the DUP and the Ulster Unionist Party condemned yesterday's announcement by Chief Constable Huge Orde that Killymeal House will be closing in six months time.

It is understood soldiers currently working from the military base, from the Kings Own British Army, will now be sent to Iraq.

Mr Orde said the decision to close the Co Tyrone army base was taken following "full consultation" with the general officer commanding in Northern Ireland.

He also stressed the closure would not affect the Army's ability to support the PSNI, when required.

The local MP, Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew, said: "For people throughout Tyrone, the closure of Killymeale barracks in Dungannon cannot come soon enough.

"It is vital that this land is put to best use for the people of Dungannon."

Also welcoming the closure was local SDLP Assembly member Tommy Gallagher, who said the dismantling of the base was "a step in the right direction."

He added: "The wish of most people in the north at this time is to see the closure and removal of all oppressive army bases and watch towers."

However, the DUP's Maurice Morrow reacted with fury to Mr Orde's decision which he claimed "beggars belief" and "defies logic."

The local Assembly member said: "As the Chief Constable prepares to dismantle yet another security base in south Tyrone, no doubt the Provos are preparing their next bank raid, murder, knee-capping or other despicable act."

Also condemning the closure was the UUP's Tom Elliott, who said the closure was premature in the current political climate.

He also suggested the closure was due to "political expediency" rather than "operational necessity."

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