Announcement by Adam Ingram on the Normalisation plan for military sites in Northern Ireland, (28 March 2006)
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Announcement by Adam Ingram, then Minister for the Armed Forces, on the Normalisation plan for military sites in Northern Ireland, (28 March 2006)
The 'route map' to full normalisation of the military infrastructure supporting the Police Service of Northern Ireland is announced today by the Minister for the Armed Forces, Mr Adam Ingram.
The August 2005 updated Annex 1 (security) to the government’s Joint Declaration required the “publication of a structured plan for [the] phased reduction in troops to peacetime levels" by 31 March 2006, assuming maintenance of an enabling security environment in Northern Ireland.
The plan details when various military sites scheduled to close during normalisation will go, and covers the changes in the permanent military garrison as it moves to its peacetime level of no more than 5,000 troops by 31 July 2007. Operation BANNER, the military operation in support of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, ends on that date.
Dates given in the plan below are current planning. There were 10,083 military personnel in Northern Ireland on 31 July 2005 and troop level figures in the plan use this number as the baseline figure.
Some 3,000 Ministry of Defence civilians currently work alongside the military in Northern Ireland. Detailed work is continuing to establish the future requirement for civilian staff to support the peacetime garrison and Trades Unions will be fully consulted on the implementation of this plan once the work is complete.
2. The plan covers the changes in the permanent military garrison as it moves to the level of no more than 5,000 troops set out in the updated Annex 1. As noted in that Annex, the size of the longer-term garrison is likely to fluctuate in response to global demands on the Army and its long-term complement. It should also be noted that there may from time to time be a requirement to reinforce the permanent military garrison on a short term basis to provide the residual level of Army support needed for the police e.g. providing specialised explosive ordnance disposal and support for public order as described in the Patten recommendations 59 and 66 as set out in the Joint Declaration.
3. Dates given are current planning dates but there may be some variation to these dates within the milestones set by the updated Annex 1. The total Northern Ireland troop level was 10,083 on 31 Jul 05 and troop level figures within this plan use this as the baseline figure.
NORMALISATION, TRANCHE 1 - THE FIRST 8 MONTHS (01 AUG 05 – 31 MAR 06)
4. Military and Joint Sites. By 01 Apr 06 we will have achieved:
a. The vacation and closure of Forkhill. Already completed.
b. The removal of the three hilltop observation post (OP) sites at G10 (Creevekeeran), G20 (Drumackavall) and R12 (Sugarloaf). Already completed.
c. The dismantling of the military supersangar in PSNI Newtownhamilton. Already completed.
d. The removal of both military OPs in Masonic Base, Londonderry. Already completed.
e. The removal of the OP on Divis Tower. Already completed.
f. Following the Policing Board's decision in Sep 05 to close PSNI stations at Kinawley and Rosslea, the Army was withdrawn from these locations in Nov 05 (demolition work is underway at these sites and we plan to hand them to the PSNI for disposal by Jun 06).
5. Major Units and Headquarters.
The six monthly roulement battalion known as Northern Ireland Battalion 1 (NIBAT 1, comprising approximately 500 soldiers) was withdrawn from Northern Ireland and returned to the operational command of Headquarters Land Command on 16 Jan 06. This move marked the withdrawal of the last roulement battalion deployed to NI. We plan to deliver the residual military support needed by the PSNI in south Armagh by resident battalion troops for as long as this remains necessary.
6. Troop Levels. Troop levels are planned to be approximately 9,200 on 31 Mar 06.
NORMALISATION, TRANCHE 2 - THE NEXT 12 MONTHS (01 APR 06 - 31 MAR 07)
7. Military and Joint Sites. By 31 Mar 07 we plan to achieve:
a. The withdrawal of troops from PSNI Newtownhamilton. Work schedules are being planned in conjunction with the PSNI and the target date for completion is currently Sep 06.
b. The withdrawal of troops from PSNI Crossmaglen. Work schedules are being planned in conjunction with the PSNI and the provisional date for completion is currently 31 Mar 07.
c. The withdrawal of troops from PSNI Newtownbutler, which should be complete no later than Apr 06.
d. The withdrawal of troops from PSNI Middletown. Work is currently underway to demolish this site and the withdrawal of troops is planned to be complete by early Apr 06.
e. The withdrawal of troops from PSNI Keady. This is currently planned for Aug 06, although exact dates are being discussed with the PSNI.
f. The removal of the military base within PSNI Maydown. Already completed. There will continue to be an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team based with the PSNI at Maydown.
g. The vacation and demolition of the last three hilltop sites at G40 (Croslieve), R13 (Camlough Mountain) and R21 (Jonesborough Hill).
h. The vacation, closure and handover for disposal of Grosvenor Barracks, Enniskillen which is planned by mid Dec 06.
i. The closure, vacation and handover for disposal of Mahon Barracks, Portadown. Work has started and it is planned to close and handover for disposal Mahon Barracks by Jan 07. Elements of this site will be handed over to the PSNI and timings may change depending on PSNI requirements.
8. Major Units and Headquarters. The following changes will take place:
a. 3 Squadron, RAF Regiment will move from RAF Aldergrove to RAF Wittering by 31 Mar 07 and approximately 110 RAF Police will leave Northern Ireland in a similar timeframe.
b. The Omagh Resident Battalion based at Lisanelly Barracks, Omagh will come under control of Headquarters Land Command at the end of its tour of duty in Aug 06. It will not be replaced.
c. Headquarters 8th Infantry Brigade, based in Shackleton Barracks, Ballykelly will disband and hand over its responsibilities to Headquarters 39th Infantry Brigade (Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn) on 01 Sep 06.
d. By Dec 06, 15 Signal Regiment, based in Lisburn, will disband and will be replaced by two Independent Signals Squadrons.
9. Troop Levels. Troop levels are planned to reduce to approximately 8,500 by 31 Mar 07.
NORMALISATION, TRANCHE 3 - THE LAST 4 MONTHS (01 APR 07 – 31 JUL 07)
10. Military and Joint Sites. By 31 Jul 07 we plan to achieve:
a. The vacation, closure and handover for disposal of Drumadd Barracks, Armagh. Work is expected to start in Apr 07 and be completed by 31 Jul 07.
b. The vacation, closure and handover for disposal of Bessbrook Mill, south Armagh. Work is expected to start in Apr 07 and be completed by 31 Jul 07.
c. The vacation, closure and handover for disposal of Lisanelly Barracks, Omagh. The main work on closing Lisanelly Barracks will begin in Apr 07.
d. The vacation and demolition of the observation post at PSNI Rosemount, Londonderry.
e. The vacation, closure and handover for disposal of Moscow Camp, Belfast.
f. The vacation, closure and handover for disposal of Harmony House, Lisburn.
g. The closure, vacation and demolition of Masonic Base, Londonderry. Work is expected to start in Jun 07 and should be completed by 31 Jul 07.
h. The removal or transfer of all residual military structures in PSNI Stations.
11. Major Units and Headquarters. Planned changes are:
a. Headquarters NI will reduce to a size appropriate to the needs of the future military garrison by 31 Jul 07.
b. Headquarters 39th Infantry Brigade will disband on 31 Jul 07 and will be replaced by a new Regional Brigade Headquarters.
c. The three Royal Irish Regiment (Home Service) Battalions will formally disband by 31 July 2007.
d. The Northern Ireland Training Regiment will close by 31 July 2007.
e. 6 Regiment, Royal Military Police will reduce and reorganise to approximately one third of its current size by 31 Jul 07.
f. The reorganisation and reduction of the Northern Ireland Combat Service Support Regiment to one squadron will be completed by 31 Jul 07.
12. Troop Levels. This Tranche will see the major element of troop reductions to the planned level of no more than 5,000 by 31 Jul 07.
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