Omagh Remembers: Harold Wilson's `short' Irish operation now 30 years old
Saturday 14 August 1999
Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of Harold Wilson's deployment of British troops to deal with widespread disturbances in Belfast and Londonderry.
Designed as a short operation to restore peace and order, the military presence has instead become a permanent feature of Irish life.
During the past three decades more than 200,000 soldiers have done tours of duty in Northern Ireland; 500 have been killed.
While some soldiers have been recruited locally, the vast majority are from Britain. The Ministry of Defence said that 152,000 of the soldiers have been stationed there for six months or more; many were there for shorter tours of duty. The total number of officers whoserved, or are still serving, is given as 25,000.
Even though the level of violence has fallen sharply, as hopes for a lasting peace grow, the authorities have thought it prudent not to embark yet on any large-scale reduction in troop levels.
The army is, however, much less visible, having all but stopped its routine patrols. Several hundred extra troops were flown in for the summer marching season, with engineers and other soldiers establishing temporary fortifications at potential flashpoints such as Drumcree, although, in the event, these were not put to the test.
Around 500 regular soldiers have been killed, most of them victims of the IRA. In the same period, troops killed about 300 people, some of whom were IRA members. Many civilians have also been killed, giving rise to a series of political controversies.
The longest-running of these concerned the deaths of 14 people on Bloody Sunday in Londonderry, 1972. A judicial inquiry into the events of that day is presently under way in Northern Ireland.
- 1 Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?
- 2 London council removes 'unacceptable' Stamford Hill posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan in new celebrity hacking attack weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 Matthew Miller: American sentenced to hard labour in North Korea 'wanted to be Snowden II'
- 5 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
London council removes 'unacceptable' Stamford Hill posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan in new celebrity hacking attack weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
Isis in Syria: 60,000 Kurds flee terror in new exodus
Alan Henning kidnapping: British aid worker's wife appeals to Isis to release him
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...
£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...
£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...
£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...