Northern Ireland news

Crossmaglen police station set to permanently close

Simon Byrne posed with armed PSNI officers in Crossmaglen

CROSSMAGLEN police station is set to permanently close with policing in the area to be transferred to Newtownhamilton.

It was also reported last night that more police will be on the beat in south Armagh, while there will be no more high powered/high velocity arms on show by officers in the area.

The changes are understood to have been discussed at a meeting of the Policing Board on Monday.

It comes amid repeated calls from nationalist politicians for a review of policing in south Armagh, which they claim "has barely changed" since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

The station in the nationalist village of Crossmaglen has been the scene of numerous attacks by republicans with petrol bombs, missiles and shots all fired at the base.

In 2010, Matt Baggott become the first serving PSNI chief constable to patrol the streets of Crossmaglen.

But the current PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne caused controversy in 2019 when he posted a photograph on Twitter of him posing with heavily armed officers outside the fortified police base in Crossmaglen on Christmas Day.

Mr Byrne was heavily criticised by nationalists for the post and later apologised, saying it was "never meant as a comment on the community of Crossmaglen and south Armagh".

A review of policing in the south Armagh area has been ongoing for more than a year.

SDLP MLA Justin McNulty said that the changes offered a "great opportunity" for the people of south Armagh.

"There are a number of recommendations to bring about normalisation in the south Armagh area," he told the Newry Democrat.

"These include the closure of Crossmaglen police station.

"This will provide a great opportunity for Crossmaglen Rangers to develop their grounds for the future.

"Newtownhamilton will be the new centre for policing in south Armagh although that may change as time goes on.

"I very much welcome that the local communities will have an input on how policing is carried out in their areas.

"Basically, anything that works towards normalising policing is a very positive move and one which is very welcoming."

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