Army’s presence in Northern Ireland was ‘reassuring’

A man whose father was shot dead by the IRA as he walked home described the presence of the British Army on the streets of Northern Ireland as “reassuring”.

The special operation, known as Operation Banner, lasted for almost 40 years and involved over 300,000 British army personnel.

Troops were deployed in Northern Ireland as the Troubles flared across the region.

Martyn McCready, whose father John was shot dead on his mother’s birthday in north Belfast in 1976, was among those who welcomed troops.

John McCready with his son Martyn during a family holiday
John McCready with his son Martyn during a family holiday (Family handout/PA)

He said the arrival of British soldiers changed the atmosphere “for the better”, adding that he felt “reassured” by their presence.

He said: “The feeling was great because everybody wanted to see the troops in.

“The Army changed the atmosphere here for the better. They were sent here as a peace force to look after both sides.

“But one side thought they were looking after the other more.

“I never had any bother with the Army, if you have nothing to fear, you have nothing to hide.

Martyn McCready
Martyn McCready said the arrival of British soldiers changed the atmosphere ‘for the better’ (Liam McBurney/PA)

“I felt reassured by them being here. I just felt sorry for the Army because they were put here and they didn’t know the streets they were going to and how people would react to them.

“They just wanted to help people.

“The soldiers left their homes in England and thought they were coming over to keep the peace and the next thing they were being shot at and blown up and murdered.”

Martyn, who lives in Dundonald, said he always “admired” the courage of the soldiers, describing them as people who were “just like us”.

He added: “They wanted to get back to their families and unfortunately they were piggy in the middle.

“The soldiers did a fantastic job with very limited time and equipment. When people were putting up barriers around Belfast, they cleared streets and made sure the city was still running.”

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS