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Northern Ireland (Normalisation)

Volume 485: debated on Monday 8 December 2008

My statement to the House on 25 July 2007, Official Report, column 73WS announced the cessation of Operation Banner. Since then we have continued to refine our military structures in Northern Ireland commensurate with normalisation and I now judge that we can remove the post of General Officer Commanding (GOC) in Northern Ireland.

The current GOC will complete his tour at the end of the year and we do not expect to replace him. The Commander of 38 (Irish) Brigade and Northern Ireland Garrison will thereafter become the senior officer based in Northern Ireland. The change shall result in a small reduction in military posts which will be reabsorbed into other areas across Defence. We aim to have command in Northern Ireland fully normalised by January 2009.

This step reflects our commitment towards security normalisation in Northern Ireland. The armed forces will continue to provide support to the PSNI, and contribute to civil contingencies where required through the normal procedures for military aid to the civil authorities in the UK.