Land taken from Crossmaglen Rangers in south Armagh and used as a British Army base is to be returned to the GAA club.

The Northern Secretary of State Mo Mowlam announced that security forces are to hand back part of the grounds of a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club in Crossmaglen, County Armagh, as soon as it is practical.

This news came after years of campaigning by nationalists and the matter being raised at a political level by successive governments.

The land was seized for a British Army helicopter pad in the early 1970s and Crossmaglen Rangers saw the occupation of their grounds as vindictive. The British Army Royal Ulster Constabulary presence at the club has been bitterly resented by nationalists for many years, and contributed to the controversial GAA Rule 21.

Eddie Hughes of Crossmaglen Rangers says it will be great news for the club and the ares if it the land is handed back,  however,

We as a club, nor the GAA in general have been officially notified yet, and I think it is par for the course for what the club has had to put up with over the last 27 years.

The presence of the helipad has been a great hindrance to the club both physically and on the development side.

It is an enormous monstrosity to be part of any sports organisation.

The multi-party talks on the Good Friday Agreement at Hillsborough Castle in County Down came to an end on 1 April 1999. In a joint statement, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair made it clear that decommissioning was not a precondition to the formation of an executive or to progress with respect to any other part of the Good Friday Agreement.

Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly acknowledges there is a democratic imperative to implement the Agreement

We are not going to rule out the Agreement, it was hard for us to sign up for it. and we owe it to our electorate, as Unionism owes it to its electorate when it signed up for it.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 3 April 1999. The reporter is Tony Connolly.