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Debate on the armed forces and investigation and prosecution of historical cases

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Speech by the Secretary of State during an Opposition day debate

 

Mr Speaker, I am grateful to the Right Honourable Member for North Belfast and his colleagues for bringing this motion to the House today and for initiating this very important debate.

 

So can I be clear from the outset.

 

Operation Banner, as the House is aware, lasted for nearly 30 years.

 

It was the longest single continuous deployment of the Armed Forces in British military history. During that period over 250,000 people served.

 

The Armed Forces and the RUC combined lost over 1,000 men and women to terrorism. There were over 7,000 awards for bravery. And the Royal Ulster Constabulary was rightly awarded the George Cross.

 

So as this Government’s Northern Ireland manifesto at the last election made clear, “we salute the remarkable dedication and courage of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and our Armed Forces in defending the rule of law and in ensuring that the future of Northern Ireland would only ever be determined by democracy and consent.”

 

Quite simply without their contribution what we know today as the Northern Ireland peace process would never have happened.

 

All of us, across this House and throughout our United Kingdom, owe them a huge debt of gratitude. Just as we owe them an enormous debt for the work and sacrifice they have made in other parts of the world referred to in the motion before us, in Kosovo, in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

 

Wherever they operate we quite rightly regard our Armed Forces as the best in the world.

 

READ MORE HERE: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/debate-on-the-armed-forces-and-investigation-and-prosecution-of-historical-cases


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