Operation BANNER ends in Northern Ireland after 38 years
1 Aug 07
Operation BANNER – support by the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force to the police and civil authorities in Northern Ireland – ended at midnight last night, 31 July 2007 after 38 years.
Private Andrew Mason, aged 19, from Southampton (Rear) and Lieutenant James Phipps, aged 25, from Guilford. A Platoon Commander with 2 PWRR, James led the last of the solders out of Bessbrook Mill at the end of June 2007
[Picture: Steven Peacock]
A permanent garrison of no more than 5,000 Service personnel will remain in Northern Ireland, available for deployment worldwide. From today, 1 August 2007, the new Operation HELVETIC will enable these personnel to support the police in Northern Ireland in the event of extreme public disorder. This is comparable to the level of support the military presently provide in mainland UK.
A Commemorative Service, to be held in the spring of 2008, will remember the commitment, bravery and sacrifice of all those who served over so many years in helping deliver the present, more settled and more optimistic circumstances.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, Chief of the Defence Staff, sent the following message to staff across the Ministry of Defence:
"For 38 years now we have provided military support to Northern Ireland under Operation BANNER. On 31 July this year, that operation comes to an end – a key milestone in the Province's journey to a brighter and more secure future."
Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, Chief of the Defence Staff
"For 38 years now we have provided military support to Northern Ireland under Operation BANNER. On 31 July this year, that operation comes to an end – a key milestone in the Province's journey to a brighter and more secure future. It is a moment that should make us all glad; but it is also a time for reflection.
"For the progress which heartens us all so much has been dearly bought. Our Armed Forces have been alongside the RUC and PSNI through long years of dedicated effort and sacrifice. The qualities of our people – their endurance, patience, loyalty, courage and professional excellence – have been severely tested; and they have come through that test and emerged stronger than ever.
"This is a proud record. But it comes at a price: 651 service personnel were killed in Operation BANNER, and 6,307 wounded. As we move to this new stage in Northern Ireland's history, we particularly remember them; and we shall be commemorating their sacrifice at a special Service in 2008.
The Queen inspects soldiers of the three Home Service battalions of The Royal Irish Regiment who were parading for the final time at the commemorative event at the Balmoral Showground, Belfast in October 2006
[Picture: Will Craig]
"Their contribution, and that of the other 250,000 personnel from all three services who served in the operation, have been key to success. The fact that ordinary people in Northern Ireland can look to a future of hope and opportunity rather than violence and despair is in large measure due to the unceasing effort of the Armed Forces over nearly four decades. As Operation BANNER ends, that is a testament of which we can and should all be very proud."
Meanwhile today also marks the disbandment of the Home Service battalions of The Royal Irish Regiment. In October 2006 soldiers from the three Home Service battalions of The Royal Irish Regiment paraded for the final time before Her Majesty The Queen at a commemorative event at the Balmoral Showground, Belfast, which marked the end of operational duties in Northern Ireland and the conclusion of 36 years' loyal service.
The three Home Service battalions became non-operational on 1 September 2006, and have now formally disbanded. The announcement as to the disbandment of the Home Service battalions of The Royal Irish Regiment was made to the House of Commons by the Secretary of State for Defence on 1 August 2005.