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Factsheet

Operation Banner: Notable dates

Operation Banner Commemoration

Below are notable dates from Operation Banner, the name given to Military Operations in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 2007. Where appropriated, we have included wider political events, and terrorist actions outside the Province.

1969 - 1979 / 1979 - 1989 / 1989 - 2007

1969 Top
14 Aug Operation Banner begins. The Prince of Wales' Own Regiment of Yorkshire is the first to arrive, and is initially welcomed onto the streets in Londonderry by all sections of the community.
11 Oct Constable Victor Arbuckle is shot by loyalists on Belfast's Shankill Road during serious rioting, becoming the first member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary to be killed during Operation Banner.
1970
1 Apr The Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) is formed under the control of the British Army to replace the "B Specials", a reserve force that was part of the Ulster Special Constabulary.
1971
6 Feb The first soldier is killed on duty during the Troubles. Gunner Robert Curtis of 32nd Battery, Royal Horse Artillery dies from machine-gun fire from the Provisional IRA (PIRA) in Belfast's New Lodge Road.
9 Aug The first UDR soldier dies as a result of the conflict. Private Winston Donnel is shot at a Vehicle Check Point near Strabane.
1972
30 Jan In what was to become known as Bloody Sunday, 13 men are shot dead by the Parachute Regiment following rioting at a Civil Rights Mar in Londonderry - a 14th later dies of wounds in hospital.
22 Feb A 50 pound bomb in a stolen car explodes at the Headquarters of the 16th Parachute Brigade in Aldershot, Hampshire. The explosion detonates outside the Officer's Mess, killing five female kitchen staff, a gardener and Captain Gerry Weston, a Catholic Padre. The Official IRA claims responsibility for the attack, saying that it is in response to the events on Bloody Sunday.
22 Jun The PIRA announces a ceasefire seeking a response from UK. In talks in London they demand total British withdrawal, but the ceasefire ends on 7 July.
21 Jul In what became known as Bloody Friday, the PIRA plant 22 bombs around Belfast. Nine people are killed and a further 130 civilians are injured. Among them were two British soldiers, Stephen Cooper and Philip Price, and members of both the Unionist and Nationalist communities.
31 Jul Operation Motorman begins, involving 12,000 troops. The operation succeeds in ending "no-go" areas in Belfast and Londonderry.
1973
6 Dec Tri-partite talks are held at Sunningdale in Berkshire to end the Troubles and establish power-sharing in the Province. The Sunningdale Agreement is produced out of these discussions.
1974
2 May The first female member of the Ulster Defence Regiment, Private Eva Martin, is shot dead in Clogher.
15 May The Ulster Workers Council (UWC) begin their strike in protest against the Sunningdale Agreement. The strike lasts for two weeks, and results in general disruption across the Province, including the Port of Larne being sealed off, roads blocked, buses high-jacked and disruptions to electricity supplies.
29 May The UWC strike is called off, after succeeding in bringing down the Power-Sharing Executive advocated in the Sunningdale Agreement.
1976
25 Mar Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announces the development of "Police Primacy" in the Province. Under this measure, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) takes the leading role in security in Northern Ireland, in place of the British Army.
1979 Top
27 Aug Earl Mountbatten and three others are killed by a PIRA bomb, detonated while he and his party are on a sailing boat off the coast of Mullaghmore, County Sligo, Republic of Ireland. On the same day, 18 Soldiers are murdered at Narrow Water, Warrenpoint. Known as "The Warrenpoint Ambush", the PIRA detonate a 500lb device killing six members of the Parachute Regiment as their convoy passes a hay lorry. A second device kills twelve Quick Reaction Force soldiers from the Queen's Own Highlanders.
1980
27 Oct A hunger strike begins at HM Prison Maze amongst paramilitary prisoners as part of a protest against not being classed as "Special Category", and therefore political status prisoners.
18 Dec The hunger strike is called off after an intervention by Cardinal Thomas O'Fiaich, the Archbishop or Armagh and Catholic Primate of all Ireland.
1981
1 Mar Bobby Sands, a leading member of the PIRA prisoners at HM Prison Maze, begins a second hunger strike.
5 May Sands dies on 64th day of hunger strike. Rioting follows the news of his death.
1982
20 Jul Eight soldiers on ceremonial duty are killed and 47 soldiers and civilians are injured in two PIRA bomb blasts in Hyde Park and Regents Park, London. A nail bomb detonates in Hyde Park killing two members of the Household Cavalry and injuring 23 as they make their way to the Changing of the Guard from their barracks in Knightsbridge. Seven horses are also either killed or so badly maimed they have to be destroyed. At Regents Park, another device explodes beneath the bandstand while the Royal Green Jackets performed for tourists and office workers. Six members of the band are killed and 24 are injured.
1985
15 Nov The Anglo-Irish Agreement is signed by the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher and the Irish Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald at Hillsborough Castle. The Agreement gives an advisory role to the Republic of Ireland in the government of Northern Ireland, and confirms that the Province remains part of the United Kingdom unless a majority of its citizens agree to join the Republic.
1988
16 Mar At Milltown cemetery, Michael Stone, a member of the Ulster Defence Association paramilitary group, attacks mourners with a gun and hand grenades during the funerals of the PIRA members killed in Gibraltar. Three people die and over 60 are injured in the incident. Shortly afterwards, two British Army Corporals of the Royal Signals, Derek Wood and David Howes, accidentally drive into the path of the funeral cortege of one of Michael Stone's victims, Kevin Brady. Their car is surrounded, and they are dragged from their car, beaten, stripped and then shot.
1 May Three British Airman are killed and three others injured in a double attack by the PIRA in and around the town of Roermund in The Netherlands. Senior Air Craftsman Ian Skinner is killed and his two colleagues are injured while sleeping in a car in Roermund marketplace after a night out. Half an hour later, a second attack kills two other airmen and injured another near the border with Germany. The airman had been stationed at RAF Wildenrath in Germany at the time.
1989 Top
22 Sep A bomb blast kills ten young marine bandsmen and injures a further 22 at the Royal Marines School of Music in Deal, Kent.
1993
15 Dec The British Prime Minister, John Major, and the Irish Taoiseach Albert Reynolds announce the Downing Street Declaration. The declaration affirms the right of the people of Northern Ireland to self-determination, and that the Province will only be transferred to the Republic of Ireland if the majority of the people were in favour. Most importantly, it states that the people of the island of Ireland had the exclusive right to solve their issues by mutual consent.
1994
9 Aug Corporal Trelford Withers, a part-time soldier with the Royal Irish Regiment, is shot at his shop in Crossgar, County Down by the PIRA. Corporal Withers is the last member of the Royal Irish Regiment to be killed during Operaion Banner. Later, his daughter Corporal Claire Withers was presented with his posthumous Conspicuous Gallantry Cross by Her Majesty The Queen.
1 Sep The PIRA declares an indefinite ceasefire,
13 Oct The Combined Loyalist Military Command declare a ceasefire.
1996
9 Feb The PIRA ceasefire ends.
1997
12 Feb Lance Bombardier Stephen Restorick, of the 3rd Regiment of the Royal Horse Artillery is murdered by the PIRA near Bessbrook, Armagh. He is the last member of UK Forces to be killed during Operation Banner.
20 Jul Restoration of the PIRA ceasefire.
1998
10 Apr The Belfast or "Good Friday" Agreement is signed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, and endorsed by most of the Northern Ireland political parties. The key points of the treaty are the declaration that the constitutional future of Northern Ireland will be determined by its citizens, the establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly with devolved legislative powers, and a power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive.
7 Sep Frankie O'Reilly, a young officer in the Royal Ulster Constabulary, becomes the last member of the RUC to be killed during Operation Banner. He died from a bomb explosion at an Orange Order protest in Drumcree, for which the Loyalist Paramilitary Group the Red Hand Defenders later claimed responsibility.
1 Aug Peter Hain, the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland announces a process of security 'normalisation' for the province, and a countdown to end of Operation Banner in 2007 begins.
2006
6 Oct Her Majesty The Queen presents the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross to The Royal Irish Regiment and the Ulster Defence Regiment. The honour is in recognition of 36 years of continuous operational service and sacrifice during Operation Banner.
2007
7 Mar Elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly are held.
26 Mar The power-sharing executive commences on the on 8 May at Stormont.
31 Jul Operation Banner ends officially at midnight on 31 July. From 1 August 2007 a garrison of no more than 5,000 military personnel in ten Locations is stationed, trained and ready for deployment worldwide.

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