THE withdrawal of British troops from the streets of the North represents an historic advancement following generations of an Orwellian nightmare of oppression, leading Belfast republican Gerry Kelly said yesterday.Guardian:
But unionist politicians praised the contribution made by the soldiers in bringing political peace and stability to the North after being deployed there for 38 years.
At midnight tonight all military personnel will be recalled to their barracks, bringing to an end Operation Banner, the longest continuous campaign in British army history.
The British army's longest continuous military operation comes to an end at midnight tonight when responsibility for security in Northern Ireland passes to the police.
Operation Banner lasted 38 years and involved 300,000 personnel, of which 763 were killed by paramilitaries. The last soldier to die was Lance Bombardier Stephen Restorick, who was shot at a vehicle checkpoint in 1997.
From tomorrow there will still be a garrison of 5,000 troops in Ulster, but they will not be on active operations and will be available for deployment anywhere in the world.
Peace to the Londonderry Loyalists.
Peace to the Derry Bogside Republicans.