British troops on Tuesday (18 August) began laying metal spikes on dozens of roads on the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic as a security precaution against unauthorised crossings.
British troops on Tuesday (18 August) began laying metal spikes on dozens of roads on the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic as a security precaution against unauthorised crossings. Backing up the barricades are troops in armoured cars whose nightly patrols along the border are designed to stop people from crossing into Ulster. The new precautions follow the booby-trapped car killing of two policemen near the border last week.
The border barricades are designed to confine cars and other vehicles entering or leaving Northern Ireland to "approved" main roads on which there are army checkpoints or Customs posts.
Parachute troops spiked a road at Castle Blaney on Tuesday (18 August) at a position less than 100 yards (metres) from the Irish Republic. Although the blocking is an effective means of stopping many unauthorised crossings, it reportedly can mean a detour of up to ten miles (approx 16 kms) for local citizens.
Army motorised patrols supplement the road spiking. The border is 180 miles (approx 289 kms) long and there are numerous illegal crossing points. A patrol set off on Monday night (17 August) to patrol a 30-mile (48 km) stretch of border with eight men and four fully-armed Ferret scout cars.
The men set out from Omagh on a routine patrol, checking in at a remote police barracks at Kesh. The routine of the night was broken, however, by an explosion at nearby Castlederg where 15 pounds (about 7 kg) of gelignite had shattered the Rural Council offices.
In Ulster, members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary have been pressing that they should be re-armed following a spate of bombings in the province in recent days. But the Stormont Government has issued a statement making clear their intention to stand by the Hunt Committee recommendation that the police should not be armed.