Operation Banner anniversary: Over 10,000 expected for commemoration event

Over 10,000 people are expected for a commemoration event to mark 50 years since the beginning of Operation Banner, on Saturday, August 17.

The event is set to take place in Lisburn, beginning with a Drumhead Service at 11am, conducted by Rev Edwin Fraser and Rev Andrew Thompson.

Army reinforcements on the Limestone Road area of North Belfast during Operation Banner

Army reinforcements on the Limestone Road area of North Belfast during Operation Banner

A parade of Operation Banner veterans will then make its way from Wallace Park through Lisburn to mark the occasion, passing and laying wreaths at three memorials on its way – the Lisburn Half Marathon Bomb Memorial and the UDR Memorial in Market Square and the War Memorial in Castle Gardens.

Fourteen bands are expected to participate in the parade, which will return to Wallace Park where the Wellington Silver Band will conclude the ceremony. Hot and cold beverages will be available in the park from mobile vendors, with all proceeds going to the Mayor’s chosen charity – Air Ambulance NI.

As part of the commemoration event, visitors can make their way to the city centre where an Operation Banner Veteran’s Museum will be set up in a marquee in Market Square. An Ulster Aviation Society Westland Scout Helicopter and old military vehicles will also be on display outside the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum.

Ian Simpson of the Northern Ireland Veterans Association, said: “This 50th Anniversary of Operation Banner is a milestone in the history of Northern Ireland and we are honoured to hold this landmark event in Lisburn.

Colin McAfee, NI Veterans Association; Ian Simpson, NI Veterans Association; Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Cllr Alan Givan; Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council's Veteran's Champion, Ald James Tinsley; Sam Campbell NI Veterans Association and Mark Campbell, NI Veterans Association.

Colin McAfee, NI Veterans Association; Ian Simpson, NI Veterans Association; Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Cllr Alan Givan; Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council's Veteran's Champion, Ald James Tinsley; Sam Campbell NI Veterans Association and Mark Campbell, NI Veterans Association.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to remember over 2,400 men and women who either paid the ultimate sacrifice, or died in service, during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. A further 10,000 being injured during this period.

“We look forward to a day of commemoration, remembrance and thankfulness for our brave colleagues who held the line and kept the peace in this province.”

Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Councillor Alan Givan, said: “Being a Garrison city, it is fitting that Lisburn has been chosen by the Northern Ireland Veterans Association as the location to remember and commemorate those service men and women who tragically lost their lives and the many who were injured during this period. We welcome and encourage both the people of Lisburn and Castlereagh and visitors from further afield to attend this poignant event.”

Alderman James Tinsley, the council’s Veteran’s Champion, added: “As a veteran who served in Northern Ireland during Operation Banner, I understand the significance of this commemoration event in giving families and friends the opportunity to remember their loved ones who lost their lives during the conflict. The council is pleased to see veterans from both sides of the border being represented at this event.”

Operation Banner. A soldier guards colleagues building a 'Peace Wall' in North Belfast during the 1990s .

Operation Banner. A soldier guards colleagues building a 'Peace Wall' in North Belfast during the 1990s .

Public car parking is available across the city and additional car parking will be available at Friends’ School Lisburn on the Magheralave Road. For more information about the event go to www.nivets.org.uk or email info@opbanner-50thanniversary.uk.