22 July 2004 Edition
Demilitarisation announcement insults intelligence
This week's announcement by the British Army General Officer Commanding in Ireland, pretending that he is taking demilitarisation moves, insults the intelligence of every Irish citizen.
The announcement on troop levels contains the following pieces of rationalisation.
He is announcing that two regiments, one currently based in Colchester and the other currently based in Inverness, will no longer be under his command. There is no mention of the 15,000 troops actually stationed in the Six Counties.
He also announces that due to wider Navy cuts, three vessels that have been patrolling the Irish Sea since 1998, four years after the IRA cessation, will be withdrawn.
Only the British Government could possibly believe that anybody would buy an announcement that two regiments based and living in England and Scotland changing their command structures is demilitarisation. It is not and this announcement insults the intelligence of every person still living under military occupation.
The NIO are attempting to make a virtue out of the necessity of wider defence cuts. This is not the process of demilitarisation which the British agreed to on Good Friday and which people across this island demanded through referenda.
The fact that the British Government have almost twice as many troops actually stationed in Ireland ten years after the IRA cessation than they have in the middle of a war zone in Iraq says all that needs to be said about the British approach to its demilitarisation commitments.