Throughout the modern conflict, South Armagh was the most militarised region in Western Europe. Against a population of 24,000, there were 3,000 British troops based throughout the area. Fourteen military watchtowers, fortified barracks, helicopter landing pads, checkpoints and innumerable secret hideouts ensured that the people of South Armagh were constantly faced with the reminders of British military occupation. Locals lived in what could only be described as an open military prison.
After the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 there was an expectation that the intrusive military structures in the area would be dismantled. However, it wasn’t until almost ten years later that the British military installations were removed. During this period concentrated demilitarisation campaigns within South Armagh, headed by the local community, continuously highlighted health and environmental issues arising from the occupation.
Most of the trappings of warfare have been removed from South Armagh and an element of visual normality has been restored.