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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 22 September, 2019
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Veterans commemorate 50th anniversary of British Army deployment in Northern Ireland

Operation Banner began in August 1969 and lasted until 2007.

Veterans attend a drum head service in Wallace Park in Lisburn today.
Veterans attend a drum head service in Wallace Park in Lisburn today.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

HUNDREDS OF FORMER Army personnel have taken part in a parade to mark the 50th anniversary of British troops being deployed in Northern Ireland.

Operation Banner began in August 1969 and lasted until 2007, making it the longest continuous campaign in British military history.

A total of 722 soldiers were killed during the 38-year operation.

More than 3,500 people died during the Troubles, over half of them civilians. Almost 300 deaths were attributed to the British Army.

Former members of the Parachute Regiment and the Royal Engineers marched in today’s parade in Lisburn. DUP leader Arlene Foster was among the politicians in attendance.

A heavy police presence was in place at the event, which was organised by the Northern Ireland Veterans Association.

Speaking about the anniversary, NIVA spokesman Ian Simpson said: “We need to learn to deal with our past. We need to move forward together and have an understanding of what it meant.”

Soldier F

Tensions have been heightened in Northern Ireland in recent weeks, ahead of the trial of Soldier F. 

The former paratrooper will go on trial next month for his role in the killings of two people on Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972.

Thirteen people were killed when soldiers opened fire at a civil rights demonstrators, with another later dying in hospital.

Placards referring to Soldier F were set alight on a bonfire in the Bogside area of the Derry on Thursday night.

This incident came members of the Apprentice Boys paraded close to the scene of Bloody Sunday with a Parachute Regiment symbol and the letter ‘F’ on the sleeves of their uniforms last Sunday. 

“It’s still an ongoing campaign,” John Kelly — whose brother Michael was killed on Bloody Sunday — told AFP about the upcoming trial. 

“Out of 18 soldiers there’s only one being prosecuted. All 18 should have been prosecuted because they murdered innocent people on our streets that day. What people want is truth and justice,” Kelly said. 

Contains reporting from © AFP 2019  

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Órla Ryan

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