As Irish as Catterick? They won’t be going away you know

Thanks to irishrepublican.net for photographs of British military vehicles on the streets of Creggan yesterday.

Some republicans hailed the ending of the British Army’s longest deployment, Operation Banner in 2007. Others knew British Army missions in Ireland had been merely renamed Helvetic to reflect hopes of a normalised population:

In their usual astounding display of chutzpah Sinn Fein have produced a T-shirt depicting the IRA expelling a Brit soldier, claiming that the ending of ‘Operation Banner’ (the deployment of troops and the armed suppression of the civil population during the years of the troubles) amounts to British defeat and republican victory.
Republicans have not been slow to put them right, pointing out that Operation Banner has been replaced by Operation Helvetica, involving a permanent garrison of 5000 troops, that MI5 have built a massive base to monitor opposition to the new state, that new laws far exceed the emergency legislation of the past, that a large paramilitary police force remains armed and in place, with many of the structures and individuals who ran the death squads still in senior positions, and that loyalist groups are armed and sponsored by the state.

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  • Of course the dissident republicans could drive the British Army from our streets. But their tactic of shooting at people or planting the occasional bomb which…..er brings the British Army on to the streets…seems a tad counter-productive.
    Its a shame that dissident republicans, dissident loyalists and dissident liberals…..cant just move on.
    I have an American friend who has an upcoming birthday. She would like that T-shirt. Usual outlets?

  • Mark McGregor

    FJH,

    How can anyone think the misguided, incompetent, imbeciles have done enough pointless violence to warrant putting BA vehicles on the streets?

  • In point of fact, the military presence in Catterick is somewhat reduced these over-stretched days.

  • Mr Crumlin

    Mark – whats the context here? Were they patrolling Derry or driving from one place to another?

    If they are merely passing from one destination to another rather than, say, shooting people – does that create the conditions for armed resistance?

    Some people may want to feel very oppressed and wish to portray today as 1971 rather than 2011- well that was a bullshit argument yesterday and this photograph changes nothing.

    Filling young peoples heads with rhetoric will only serve to send another good generation to jail or an early grave – nothing noble nor heroic in that.

  • The Word

    No, FJH, Mark’s right in this. This BA display was symbolic. There’s a signal being sent out, probably by both groups.

    It won’t do Sinn Fein any good in that part of the city. It won’t do the British government any good either engaging in this manner. It sends out a signal that they haven’t really learned from Bloody Sunday, despite all their acceptances of blame.

    Some people don’t realise it but Bloody Sunday was the day that the Catholics won. The remainder of the Troubles was fought about “republicanism” and “loyalism”, and was rather futile. But the Orange state effectively ended on Bloody Sunday. There was no need for any killing after that.

    But there’s no talking to certain people. They have guns and they think that everybody fears them. They can be thankful that the SDLP stood firm or there would be no future for the North.

    As to the united Ireland these republicans want, it won’t be achieved through violence. It’s hard for them to believe this when, they say, history proves that British violence always worked.

    But did it always work? Is there an essential corruption in that view? Is it the republicans or the British who are essentially corrupt? The British are in government of course, and they have a greater onus on them to set the moral tone.

    Whatever the case, we certainly don’t intend that either of these corrupt regimes will set the moral tone in our city with military vehicles or guns. Derry is a city of peace, unlike London, where it seems that they think that war is the way to bring peace (where there is oil or Ossama), which really is rather silly.

    The SDLP know all about bringing peace about, and it involves doing the good thing for everybody.

  • Reader

    Mr Crumlin: Filling young peoples heads with rhetoric will only serve to send another good generation to jail or an early grave – nothing noble nor heroic in that.
    There’s a Republican argument to be made, maybe even a dissident republican argument to be made. But when it gets reduced to xenophobia, paranoia and historical resentment as it is here, then the argument is effectively dead, and the movement is going nowhere. I would welcome that, if it wasn’t for the inevitable side effects of this strategy, some of which you have pointed out.

  • The Derry Journal reported Wednesday’s gun attack in the Creggan.

  • Alf

    Mark,

    The 5,000 strong garrison you claim is subject to wild variation downwards due to deployments to Afghanistan etc. The two infantry battalions which are located here will both be deploying there later this year. To the best of my knowledge neither have been involved in any counter terrorist operations since the end of Op Banner. Apart from some street fighting in Newcastle. 🙂

    The troops in your photograph were no doubt escorting the ATO, who presumably was called in to clear the car which the dissidents apparently abandoned in an attempt to murder police officers. A wise precaution in the circumstances.

    The only troops active in Northern Ireland are therefore ATO and his escort and of course the SRR who are monitoring terrorist activity. Just like in London, but without the dead Brazilians.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    I though the police had to request military assistance for operational matters?

  • Cynic2

    “British military vehicles on the streets of Creggan yesterday.”

    ….and why not? It’s British territory and its residents are entitled to the protection of our boys

  • Cynic2

    If I take offence at Eirigi wearing PJs on demos against ‘British oppression;’ can I get them banned by the Parades Commission?

  • Drumlins Rock

    The bomb squad attending a suspect device, whats the story Mark? Want to just leave the thing there?

  • Armed British soldiers have also been witnessed and identified carrying-out raids/searches in North and West Belfast alongside the RUC/PSNI last month (January 2011).

    Therefore, they were not ‘escorting’ the bomb-squad chara…

    Unfortuntately, the reality of continued British rule of six Irish counties is that imperialist troops still operate here! Anyone who believes otherwise is delusional, what are the SSR, just another title for the SAS!

  • Nunoftheabove

    ArdEoin Republican

    What imperialist interests specifically are being served by the troops being here please ?

  • Alf

    ArdEoin,

    The SRR are another name for 14 Int.

    I suspect that the soldiers you saw searching in West Belfast were specialised members of the Royal Engineers. Brought in at the request of the police to carry out difficult searches.

    Of course none of them would be necessary if there wasn’t a tiny minority of genitally challenged morons, in our community, imagining they can enhance their sad little lives by murdering people.

  • Mr Crumlin

    ArdEoin Rep,

    you know you sound more like Wolfie Smith than Che Guevara. Your rhetoric may make you feel a whole lot better and it may even impress the impressionable but it will do nothing for Ireland – never mind Ardoyne.

    Like I said before its not 1971 – and to argue otherwise is disingenious in the extreme.

  • boiler1888

    These British Army Landrovers were not escorting the bomb squad. There was no security alert in Derry on Friday.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Mr Crumlin

    I would prefer to say delusional than simply disingenuous. My toes are curling in advance of ArdEoin’s response about the British imperialist interest question I posed as I’m guessing he’s going to say something like ‘they’re occupying the six counties in order to repress republicanism and deny us our national rights’.

  • Mr Crumlin

    NOTA

    I dont want to pretend Im a pacifist or anything like that – I am a republican who believes that Ireland should be united and I did support armed actions in the past.

    However where I differ from others is that I dont believe the conditions for armed struggle now exist – to try to paint Belfast today as something akin to 1971 is dillusional.

    Ive always believed taking up the gun was a tactic of last resort but some seem to see it as a strategy and a non-negotiable principle.

    I also think it is easy to spout out lazy rhetoric – it reminds me of Paisley back in the day. The rhetoric may sound uncompromising and may even resonate with some disaffected young people – but I find it ridiculously self-indulgent.

    Finally I think making and sustaining peace is much more difficult than waging war but ultimately it is much more rewarding.

  • Nunoftheabove; the occupation of six Irish counties is a continuation of Britain’s imperialist policy which she has never ended!

    For evidence please ask the peoples’ of Afganistan and Iraq…

    In spite of, various Anglo-Irish Treaties including the Good Friday Agreement. Britain holds onto the North east of Ireland out of its own selfish strategic interest. It knows that if it withdraws from Ireland and the Irish people are granted national self-determination. Scotalnd and Wales won’t be too far behind!

  • Mr Crumlin who said we’re living in 1971??

    However, can I just remind U about the continued denial of Irish National Self-determination, Partition, British troops, a paramilitary Police Force directed and managed by MI5, Special Laws and Powers, Diplock Courts and we still have Political Prisoners behind bars…

    Therefore, I agree its not 1971 but many of the conditions of conflict as I outlined above remain!

  • Nunoftheabove

    ArdEoin

    “Britain holds onto the North east of Ireland out of its own selfish strategic interest”

    – Yes and that’s what I’ve asked you to define and explain – you’ve done neither so far. They’re here…because it’s in their interests to be here is your line. Even if you do believe that, at last try defining what those interests are.

    Separate to that, will you confirm that you supported and are perhaps sentimental for the rule of the Ba’ath party and for the Taliban ? If not, can you be precise about and on what basis you reject their overhthrow ?

    Thanks

  • Zachariah Tiffins Foot

    The vehicles pictured are not current Army spec. Looks like someone has bought some old surplus stock.

    Perhaps a hen or stage party just wanted to experience the delights of the Creggan’s bell-end?

  • lamhdearg

    zachariah,
    thank you as you made the points i intended to make. + where is the photo date proof, do we take dissy propaganda as fact, outdated matbe T.A. .

  • Mr Crumlin

    Ard Eoin Rep

    I find it incredibly disappointing that you argue that the conditions for war exist – I assume you actually experienced the real conditions of war in the past. To argue that there is any comparison is ridiculous. Its a self perputuating cycle of misery you are locked into.

    Instead of walking your community into a cul de sac wouldnt it be better to lead them out of it.

    Why do those opposed to the expressed will of the people feel they can ignore those they say they are fighting to liberate?

  • Alf, regardless of who requested the attendance of the Royal Engineers the reality is that they are foreign troops operating militarily on Irish soil and as such is morally wrong.

    Not only should all British troops be confined to barracks pending a full withdrawal from every part of Ireland. Their continuation of military operations on Irish soil is against everything Irish Republicanism stands for.

  • Mr. Crumlin; do U deny that many of the conditions which made conflict between Irish Nationalists and Republicans continue to exist?

    If so, why is there still the denial of Irish National Self-determination, Partition, British troops, a paramilitary Police Force directed and managed by MI5, Special Laws and Powers, Diplock Courts and Political Prisoners behind bars?

    As for the expressed will of the people…Whatever happened to the demand for an All-Ireland Socialist Democratic Republic? Or maybe that wasn’t expressed enough?

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    “confined to barracks”

    Treasonous talk surely, I mean if you are going to get rid of them surely straight away or do you just mean to collect their belongings and tidy up?

  • Nunoftheabove; my reasons for believing that the British State, its institutions and Armed Forces remain in Ireland are many…

    However, the imperialist trait and practice is well and truely part of it. The failed idealogy of imperialism died decades ago but sadly not in Ireland. The Unionist Veto of Irish self-determination is a very large part of how the British Establishment views and treats Irish citizens…..

    For me as an Irish Republican, Britain has no right nor will it ever have any right to occupy Ireland. Regarding Iraq and Afganistan, I’d no love for the Ba’th Party or its cronies but to invade and occupy a soveriegn state under the auspices of human rights when it was/is all about capital and oil is morally wrong!

  • Mr Crumlin

    Ard Eoin Rep

    No I don’t think the conditions of war exist – maybe some of the infrastructure does. Don’t agree with all of your list though – and I dont believe that partition in itself warrants the killing of fellow Irishmen. It was the abuse of power at Stormont that ultimately lead to the recent conflict.

    Republican campaigns that do not have the support of the community they come from are doomed to fail. It is only when the wider community are threatened will the conditions for war exist – I do not see that happening again any time soon.

    I believe every shot fired and bomb planted makes Irish unity harder to achieve. Again I would say violence should only be a tactic of last resort not the first thing you turn to.

  • Mr Crumlin

    Ard Eoin Rep

    one other thing – re: the psni.

    What advice would you give to the people of Bessbrook who had any information about the despicable rape of a young mother – what should they do with that information?

  • “It was the abuse of power at Stormont that ultimately lead to the recent conflict.”

    Crumlin, I thought it was the Border Question once again. Rights issues provided a smokescreen but the provocative street politics on either side set the mobs at each other’s throats. It’s a short distance from riots and stoning to the all too familiar sound of gunfire.

  • Mr Crumlin

    Nevin

    it may be a short distance from riots to gunfire but its a hell of a big step and one does not inevitably follow the other.

    My point on the abuse of power – it turned it into communal conflict and a much wider conflict than partition on its own ever would. My point is that partition in itself will not lead to a wide spread (and supported) conflict. That was true during the border campaign and it is true now.

  • Nunoftheabove

    ArdEoin

    So presumably you were opposed to military intervention in Kosovo also, yes ?

    Simply saying that Britain has an imperialist attitude doesn’t explain why it has that or what interests are being furthered/protected by its military presence in the north. Still waiting for an answer, mate, feels like you’re on the ropes.

  • Crumlin, the recently deceased A T Q Stewart in his ‘The Narrow Ground’ refers to Sermons in Stones and goes on to claim that folks are surprised when the gunfire begins.

    Discrimination in housing and jobs was practised by Unionists, Nationalists and Socialists but mainly by Unionists. Apparently in some places they operated gentleman’s agreements.

    If you look back ninety years you’ll find there was major communal conflict before and after partition. The Civil War in the south took some of the pressure off the north.

    If you look at the Garland article – recorded in the Stormont Papers – you’ll see that the intent was to integrate the military and the civil arms of the struggle across the island of Ireland. That in itself created a difference a difference from the ’56-’62 campaign.

  • Cynic2

    “Britain holds onto the North east of Ireland out of its own selfish strategic interest.”

    ….. it has to find somewhere to put that £6bn a year I suppose

    In any case did the people of Ireland also give up their imperialist territorial claim to the North out of pure altruism or a simple desire never to get rid of any possibility of having to take responsibility for the Ardoyne

  • Cynic2

    “the reality is that they are foreign troops operating militarily on Irish soil and as such is morally wrong.”

    No they are not. Your logic is defective. SF signed up to a deal. Under that 5000 troops stay here. Under that NI REMAINS PART OF THE UK

    We then had referrenda North and South and voted on this. We accepted it by a huge majority.

    So tough. We are in the UK and you are a British Citizen. You can be an Irish Citizen too if you want. So take your pick and stop winging.

  • Alf

    “Alf, regardless of who requested the attendance of the Royal Engineers the reality is that they are foreign troops operating militarily on Irish soil and as such is morally wrong.

    Not only should all British troops be confined to barracks pending a full withdrawal from every part of Ireland. Their continuation of military operations on Irish soil is against everything Irish Republicanism stands for.”

    ArdEoin,

    Your argument is fatally flawed by the absolute reality that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and will remain so unless the majority of people here decide otherwise. Nothing is going to change that reality.

    If Irish Republicans had any inteligence then they would be busily trying to persuade unionists that their best interests are in the ROI. Instead they are motivated by their base sectarian hatred and miss no opportunity to wage petty, and not so petty, vendettas against the unionist population.

    Nor is their cause aided by the fact that the ROI is in a God awful state after several years of unsustainable gluttony.

  • aquifer

    Which army did they expect to see driving down the road, the US Marine Corps? If we see any sizeable british army presence here it is by invitation of sectarian irish separatist gun gangs who would sooner dig up a dead grievance than find a job.

    ‘ that a large paramilitary police force remains armed and in place, with many of the structures and individuals who ran the death squads still in senior positions,’

    I don’t think that Sinn Fein are that strong these days.

  • Driftwood

    defo not TA, not with that spec. What’s the problem? British Army landrovers driving through British streets. Big Deal. It happens in Oxfordshire, Renfrewshire, Glamorgan , Belfast and Londonderry.
    SF signed up for this garrison in the GFA.
    The MoD contributes quite a bit to the economy here still. Don’t bite the hand that feeds, as SF know very, very well.

  • Nunoftheabove

    ArdEoin’s responses to date on this have been unsatisfactory to say the very least. If he regards himself as among the more able spokespeople for the organisation/s he’s part of then I think it’s noticeable that we have little to fear from his ‘comrades’ other than their stubbornness, their estrangement from reality and their lack of intelligence.

    If I spent my days and nights complaining about the state I lived in and was quite openly advocating its destruction I’d want to be saying a whole lot more for my own rationale (to say nothing of my, at best, ambivalence on the use of force to oppose the institutions of the state) for such a position than that said by ArdEoin so far.

    But let’s do ArdEoin a minor favour to help him clarify things; let’s set aside the issue of the denial of national self-determination for a moment as self-determination – appropriately pursued, whether it be on the basis of integration or secessionist, whatever – is a valid aspiration by or in whatever circumstances, whether we agree with it or not. Let’s park that.

    What is it within or about the current northern state specifically which is causing grievance to ArdEoin and his ‘comrades’ in 2011 ? What problems, disadvantages, cruelties, deprivations and hardships are they experiencing which most of the rest of us are not and/or are unaware of ? And, assuming that they have some ‘ammunition’ on that question, let them address how in any respect whatsoever those grievances connect directly, specifically and exclusively (i) to their proposed end-game solution to the national question other than the very- often-not-much-more-than-perceptional issues of, more than occasionally, vacuous self-pitying tweedle-dum/tweedle-dee identity politics ?; and (ii) the adoption of a campaign of physical force in opposition to those real or imagined injustices.

  • Cynic2

    “What ….. deprivations and hardships are they experiencing which most of the rest of us are not ”

    Presumably they fall back on the argument that being deprived of a deprivation is itself a terrible deprivation. It’s their right to be deprived and the cunning Brits have succeeded in taking that away.

    What oppression!!!

  • Niall

    These pictures have no date stamps, no one is seen in the foreground holding a newspaper with its date plainly visible. Are we to believe this actually happened? Clearly these pictures are the work of photoshop, or worse, a still image from some PS2 bargain bucket video game.

    Seriously? What a pile of shite. The apologist Unionists getting in their apologising when there’s nothing to apologise for.

    Guns don’t belong on our streets, not in the hands of the IRA, UDA, RUC/PSNI or Brutish Army… Keep Derry Streets Tidy!

  • Niall

    Cynic 2, Alf,

    Is it acceptable anymore to see UDA gun men matching to Shamrock Park in Portdaown, carrying weapons and firing salutes?

    Is it acceptable to see an Easter Rising commemoration parade flanked by armed and masked gunmen?

    NO, it is not and so we don’t get such sights anymore. Just as these types of event are no longer acceptable, neither is a show of force by the Brutish Army. You miss the point, re. English Army bases. In England, they don’t offend. In the Creggan, they do. There is no place in Northern Ireland for the Brutish Army to be displaying their might anymore… stay behind closed doors, out of sight and out of mind, or toddle off back to England.

    And one last point – in England, the Army DO NOT parade military hardware through the streets, they march on foot, to on looking waving supporters or apathetic shoppers. Its not the same.

  • andnowwhat

    I have to say, I love this blog. It makes me laugh.

    This is not “the brits back on the street” and that some who support those who would support groups that attack peelers when they are at the sevice of the nationmalist/republican community (never mind any other duties) have a big brass one complaining.

    I don’t know if it is the cadre of PSNI recruits, rules of armed engagement or something else but the police officers are either unwilling or unable (possibly a mix of both) to confront these eejits on the spare of the moment.

    If the police need military protection in certain areas, we know where the “blame” lies.

    Get the message dissidents. This is not like the troubles when the support for the IRA in the community was wildly downplayed by politicians and the media. This time, there really is all but no support for their actions.

    Run off and take up paint balling or something. You guys clearly need to get something out of your systems.

  • Mark McGregor
  • Zig70

    I wonder how much the bet was for. How the guys in the TA must have laughed. The bit that makes me laugh is ‘what happened to the promise of an irish socialist republic’. Who promised that? It does exist, just need to take more green pills. Closely followed by how the sdlp are achieving a UI by saying ‘ we want it and all we have to do is make friends with as many unionists as possible’ . Classic.

  • The army has been in North Belfast too

  • vanhelsing

    MP – brilliant 🙂

    This thread makes me laugh. I would like to hear ArdEoin answer to this question by Mr Crumlin

    “What advice would you give to the people of Bessbrook who had any information about the despicable rape of a young mother – what should they do with that information?”

    Further to that DR got it about right – it was two landrovers!!