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 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
- 5 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
Greece debt crisis explainer: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess
Greece debt crisis referendum: Greeks want to vote No to austerity – but Yes to Europe
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...