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British Army begins Ulster pullout

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posted on Jul, 29 2005 @ 06:14 AM
From The Times -

July 29, 2005

Army watchtower torn down after IRA declare peace
By Jenny Booth, Times Online

Cloghoge watchtower is dismantled in near Forkhill army base in 2003 (Paul Faith/PA)

An army watchtower and a look-out post are being torn down today and a military base on the Irish border in south Armagh is to close in a lightning response to yesterday's IRA's peace declaration.

The British Army's commanding officer in Northern Ireland announced that the improving security situation meant that the installations were no longer needed.

"I can announce that preliminary work is starting today in south Armagh on the removal of the hilltop observation tower at Sugerloaf Hill near Camlough, on the vacation and closure of the base at Forkhill and on the removal of a super-sangar (a lookout post) at Newtownhamilton police station," said Lieutenant General Sir Reddy Watt, the General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland.

"In light of yesterday’s developments, the Chief Constable and I have decided that a further reduction in security profile is possible."

The moves announced today appear to be intended as a swift and visible response to the IRA's announcement of an end to 35 years of bloody struggle.

The Army is expected to follow this up in the coming days by publishing a revised security normalisation programme, where military installations will be dismantled. At the same time, plans are being made to allow on-the-run paramilitary fugitives to return home.

But unionists were unhappy at the Army's speedy response. Arlene Foster, a senior member of Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party, said: "It’s criminally irresponsible of the Government to do that, given what has gone on in those border areas.

"The Government seem quite happy to act on words alone. It’s startling that when the IRA give a statement saying they will stop what they should never have been doing that the Government act so soon."

The process of dismantling British military infrastructure in the Province was already well under way last year, when progress was halted by the news of IRA involvement in the £26.5 million Northern Bank robbery in Belfast and the IRA-orchestrated cover-up after the murder of Robert McCartney outside a city bar.

Since the IRA first declared a ceasefire in 1994, the number of battalions has been cut by half from 18 to 9, the number of watchtowers has been brought down from 14 to 10, and the number of military sites reduced from 105 to 55. However, there are still more British troops in Northern Ireland than the combined force levels in Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary, today tried to reassure Unionists, saying that he accepted that the IRA had broken its word before. He said that the bank robbery and the McCartney murder had fuelled unionist scepticism that the IRA would keep their word.

But with General John de Chastelain’s international disarmament body on stand-by to examine decommissioning and the Independent Monitoring Commission assessing its ceasefire, Mr Hain said every move would be studied.

He told BBC Breakfast: "It’s up to the IRA to deliver and they will be watched and we will be scrutinising everything. By actively shutting down I don’t just mean bullets and bombs, I mean punishment beatings, criminality, targeting and the robbing of banks."

Mr Hain is expected to call a fresh round of talks with political leaders, in a bid to restore devolution. Discussions are expected to begin in September, by which time the British and Irish Governments hope the Provisionals will have completed the promised arms decommissioning process.

General John de Chastelain is due to meet an IRA representative in the coming days as part of plans to empty the arms dumps. Two clergymen - one Protestant, one Catholic - have been chosen to scrutinise the destruction along with the General.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey will meet with his Assembly team today to assess the IRA statement.

posted on Jul, 29 2005 @ 06:31 AM
Adam your thread title is just so inaacurate it is not funny.

"British Army begins Ulster pullout" is ridiculous and so wrong, they have not.
They are dismantling watch towers and 'normalising' the situation in N.I., at last. Thankfully.

Can you imagine an extensive network of army watch towers across Yorkshire or Essex or Cornwall?
Or several large army bases with 12 -14 000 troops stationed in such a small place?

The situation in N.I. is so abnormal.

Thankfully the situation is such that the gov believes it can do this.
There will be a lot of bases and installations to be taken away until the position resembles anything like the rest of the UK (or Ireland) and a 'normal' society but it is nothing like a "British Army Pullout".

No doubt some of the 'hardline' nutter unionist religio-politicians (Paisley being prime for this) and the handful of their wild-eyed ultra-tory pals will complain long and hard that a state of all-out war isn't on-going but when have they ever not?
Some of that loopy crowd seem to fear and hate the peace and would prefer the war to be raging on as it once was.

posted on Jul, 29 2005 @ 06:53 AM
I can imagine watchtowers being erected in Yorkshire if there was a military conflict happening in Yorkshire.

Considering there has been a military conflict in NI for the last 35 years, I don't see anything strange in having watchtowers there.

posted on Jul, 29 2005 @ 07:19 AM
That isn't the issue.

The point is normalisation.

The situation was obviously previously not 'normal' and these moves to make the situation closer to 'normal' is nothing like "the British Army pulling out".

Ultimately present plans indicate a return to pre-1969 troop levels of around 4 - 5000.

They will be removing a lot of hardware, closing bases and removing towers in the coming years but that will still not amount to "the British Army pulling out".

Why are you intent on saying it is?

posted on Aug, 2 2005 @ 12:09 PM
What will the impact on the Irish economy be?


Also anyone notice how good this is for the Real I.R.A. et al?

"We'll be good".
Army pulls a large share of their troops out.

posted on Aug, 2 2005 @ 06:38 PM
There will undoubtedly be a short-term effect as the 'security' apparatus is wound down to peace-time levels; but considering the boost the N.I. economy should get as 'normalisation' continues this should be more than offset.

It is worth bearing in mind that N.I.'s economy has already been boosted substantially by the moves towards a more normal society so there is every reason to expect this to continue.

As for the so-called 'Real IRA' or the 'Continuity IRA' or the INLA for that matter it is well known that all these organisations are well contained and heavily penetrated by the security services on both sides of the border (hence their inability - after their initial 'taxi bomb spectacular' - to do much more than explode large firecrackers in wastebins every 12mths or so.......and then have the people who did it get lifted).

There's nothing 'we'll be good so the army pulls out a large share of the troops' about it.

There is a process going on during which over the course of the coming 2yrs IRA weapons will be decommissioned (with independant clerical witnesses from each community as well as the already independant people from the International Commission on Decommissioning).
In tandem with this troop numbers are to be reduced to the level they were at before 'the troubles' began.
We have had unprecedented statements by the IRA.
We have already had 3 acts of decommissioning.
2007 is the date the British army moves are all supposed to be done by.

This is nothing like simply saying "we'll be good" and the army I'm sure you know.

posted on Aug, 18 2005 @ 08:39 AM
sminkeypinkey, I hope so.

I mean myself, I don't trust it but I agree over-all it'll be for the best just hopefully it's not a well thought out "scam". So to say.

posted on Aug, 18 2005 @ 11:14 AM

Originally posted by Odium
I mean myself, I don't trust it

- I can fully understand that some will feel that way, probably - for some - always and no matter what 'the other lot' say.

Some with first hand or near first hand experience of the 'troubles' are probably never going to feel any different, and who can blame them?

But others (like Colin Parry, father of the murdered Tim Parry who died as a result of the Warrington bomb the IRA planted) hope to avoid a repetition of the horrors of the past by trying to plant and nurture trust and with that trust develop genuine progress.
Without trust we are trapped by our past, so what else can we do?

Like I said as regards the Northern Ireland situation at the moment no-one is doing anything without reciprocation, there have already been huge strides made for peace - things which some of us old enough never thought we'd see.
Each 'side' has moved and moved significantly.

So, we await further developments (accepting this is difficult for almost all concerned) and hope for a better life. We appreciate the incremental steps already taken and look for others.

.......and we pray that those incapable of trust right now will in time come to appreciate the progress being made now and which will be made in the near future.

posted on Aug, 20 2005 @ 10:52 AM
Listen, a peace in northern ireland? Unlikely! I live there and i constantly see all the troubles. Like right now there is a loyalist fued and people are being put out of their houses! And in Co.Antrim innocent Catholic people have been attacked by some Protestant thugs!

That kind of rietarded behavior will always be around! There will always be organisations to kill people of the "other" religion! Its a fact!

posted on Aug, 22 2005 @ 10:09 AM

Originally posted by speight89
Listen, a peace in northern ireland? Unlikely!

- Why not?
I can see no good reason why bit by bit we cannot progress to a much more normal society.

I live there and i constantly see all the troubles. Like right now there is a loyalist fued and people are being put out of their houses! And in Co.Antrim innocent Catholic people have been attacked by some Protestant thugs!

- Ok, so right now it would appear that much of the current trouble revolves around a few places in Belfast (the so-called 'interface areas'........recreational rioting a speciality) and within a 20mile radius of Ballymena.

Unreconstructed 'Loyalism' and it's Paisley-ite cousin may well be the last to understand and accept the need for change but for all that they still will have to; the old stupidity of a 'Protestant state for a protestant people' is never coming back and good riddence to it, in any event it turned out to be a complete disaster for those very 'protestant people' it was intended to favour.

I'm not saying that is ok and I don't mean to be flippant about the on-going low-level sectarianism that does still exist more widely but nevertheless that is a million miles away from the reality I knew in the 1970's (and on) there.

That kind of rietarded behavior will always be around!

- People used to say that about racism and yet barring a relatively few idiots most of wider society in Europe knows it is wrong and acts accordingly (to the point where even those racists left know they have to be 'careful' who they spout their stupid hatred in front of and that they cannot behave as they once did).

There will always be organisations to kill people of the "other" religion! Its a fact!

- It's not a fact, it's your own opinion; to which you are entitled.

If you wish to insist there is no hope of progress and that we are all lost then feel free, I prefer to look at examples of where great long-standing hurt and hatreds have been conquered and see that we can do that too.

We have already made such huge progress, why choose to ignore that or write it all off as of no consequence?

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