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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Safe home, and don't forget these other 5,000 troops

As 38 years of Operation Banner comes to an end, perhaps we can finally put the spectre of the troubles behind us and move forward.

Then again, it would be a lot easier to do that if it weren't for the 5,000 British troops remaining in the North of Ireland even though the UK government has 'no strategic interest' in the place.

I'm no cornerboy republican, but this looks like more games with language from the British government to me. If 5,000 troops remain on Irish soil, then it's still under occupation. If 5,000 troops remain, then the operation is still ongoing. No PR spin can change those realities.

I look forward to the day when ALL the paramilitary organisations lay down their arms (are you listening, UDA?) and when ALL the British troops have withdrawn from the North of Ireland.

At that point, it might finally become possible for people to speak to each other, listen to each other, and create a democratic society moving forward without the baleful influence of the British military, their Loyalist proxies, or their Republican enemies.

Until then, it's a case of 'Slan Abhaile' to those troops leaving, and 'Can you take your 5,000 mates with you, please?'

Below is one of many murals depicting the theme of this very day. This one, by renowned artist Robert Ballagh, was done in Derry in the mid-Nineties. But similar images have graced walls in the Short Strand, Falls and Ardoyne areas of Belfast.

4 comments:

Diarmid said...

As 38 years of Operation Banner comes to an end, perhaps we can finally put the spectre of the troubles behind us and move forward

We will never be able to put the troubles behind us as long as there are British colonists living on Irish soil. The only way to bring peace to the North is to send the unionists back to Britain where they belong.

Medbh said...

I'm hoping the 5,000 stay only for a transitional period, finish cleaning up the messes they made, and then get out.

JC Skinner said...

It's not feasible, practical, or indeed moral, to seek to disenfranchise a million people who were born and raised in Ireland of their birthright simply because their antecedents 400 years ago were planters, Diarmid.
The way to bring peace is to totally demilitarise. That's always been the only route to peace.
Anything else is a political settlement based upon peace. We've already demonstrated on all sides that military pursuit of political goals ain't working.

Tomaltach said...

Diarmuid, your reductionist view of the Northern Ireland problem would be funny if it weren't for the fact that a version of that same simplified view lay beyind the escalation of the conflict in the first place. 800 years and all that crap.

In any case, the departure of the troops is to be welcomed. It's another significant milestone on a long road. There's a long way to go - and it has nothing to do with the Brits leaving, and everything to do with two culturally separate, mutually distrustful, peoples finding a way to live with each other after so much (needless) bloodshed.