“We too are concerned that there are currently members of the British army on our streets years after we were told that they no longer have an active role in the north.” ~Danny Morrison, IRSP, Derry Journal.
That quote is not a throwback to the Troubles. It is not left over from Operation Banner – the longest deployment of the Army in British history. Operation Banner lasted for over 38 years. Their presence and poor decision making skills fueled the flames of the Troubles for thirty years, and the mission “failed to defeat the Irish Republican Army on a strategic level or have any long term plan,” according to a Ministry of Defence report. The British Army formally ended their engagement (Operation Banner) in the North of Ireland in July 2007.
Operation Banner is the official name for the nearly forty years that the British Army was officially deployed in the North of Ireland. It was launched on this day in 1969, in part because of the Battle of the Bogside and the riots and protests that it set off in the rest of the north.
It was clear that the Royal Ulster Constabulary could not handle (and did not tolerate) the rising voices of the Civil Rights movement, nor could it control the protests and riots that unfolded during that time. The civil unrest was made worse by the obvious bias that the RUC had against Catholics, Nationalists, and Republicans. Originally those communities welcomed the Army, thinking the soldiers would be more impartial and supportive. It soon became apparent that was not the case and as the British Army paired up with the RUC, a gradual souring took place within the community. This led to an uptick in those willing to fight against them and the enrollment in the Irish Republican Army and other paramilitary groups boomed.