The British Army appeared in numbers in west Belfast last weekend as troops in full uniform were deployed alongside PSNI police in the Poleglass area of West Belfast.
The operation meant residents in Ardcoine, Glenbawn, Brianswell and surrounding areas had difficulty getting to and from their homes. The two-day search ended with a claim by the PSNI that it had found an explosive device on the side of the road.
Over 5000 British military personnel are currently based in the North. Damhnaic Mac Eochaidh, of Saoradh Belfast, said the presence of a detachment of the British Army on active service on the streets of Belfast “puts paid to the stories that they have somehow gone away”.
The incident came amid calls for an investigation into the actions of an RAF military aircraft which landed earlier this month in Shannon. The Hercules transport plane came down in the County Clare airport without clearance from the Dublin government.
Independent socialist TD Clare Daly drew attention to the incident in a parliamentary question.
“It is utterly shocking that a foreign military aircraft landed without permission from the department of foreign affairs on Irish soil,” she said. “This is a total affront to our sovereignty and any notion of neutrality.”
Mac Eochaidh said the use by British forces of Ireland as a base and staging post “makes the Irish people complicit in the torture, pillage and war crimes of the British establishment.
“This reality dispenses with the myth of Irish neutrality.
“The people of Belfast and indeed Ireland have long suffered under an oppressive imperialist British policy delivered by the British Army and their paramilitary counterpart the locally recruited British constabulary. They are here to defend British rule in Ireland and to utilise the Irish nation to further the parasitic interests of the British ruling class.”
He said his party called on everyone to reject the armed forces of British imperialism “currently deployed in this provocative manner in Belfast” and to remember their long and bloody history in Belfast and Ireland.
“Hold this incident and others like it up to those mealy-mouthed politicians who would have us believe that an armed British presence was a thing of the past,” he concluded.