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Republicans have not been slow to put them right, pointing out that Operation Banner has been replaced by Operation Helvetica, involving a permanent garrison of 5000 troops, that MI5 have built a massive base to monitor opposition to the new state, that new laws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.