North's Top Cop Defends Roadstop Withdrawal

A road blockade staged by dissident republicans just across the border in south Armagh at the weekend was merely a "stunt", PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde has said.

Sir Hugh supported his officers' decision to pull out of the Meigh area, close to the border city of Newry, where up to seven masked gunmen closed off a road and distributed threatening leaflets.

It is believed six of the men were armed with machine guns, while another carried a rocket launcher. They warned locals not to cooperate with the police or Sinn Féin.

"It was just a stunt by a group trying to be relevant," said Sir Hugh.

"I'm absolutely convinced they [the police patrol] took the right action when they came across it.

"This sort of activity will not put us off community policing and will not put the community off community policing."

Sir Hugh, who will stand down as the North's top ranking police officer next week, insisted the incident would not impede people's support for law and order.

"We will continue to protect the communities as best we can, with their support and I know they will not let us down," he said.

"This organisation and this community is going in the right direction, these people will not prevent it, whatever they try to do."

Northern Ireland Police Federation Chair Terry Spence lauded the officers' swift response on Friday night, stating they had done "a magnificent job" in the face of danger.

"They acted swiftly with very cool heads and they extricated themselves from the scene. Otherwise, I fear that they could have lost their lives."

See: Checkpoint Gunmens' Propaganda 'Coup'


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