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20 February 2015
The Good Friday Agreement

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Policing and Justice
Image of graffiti stating "demilitarise now"
Graffiti calling for immediate demilitarisation

In the Good Friday Agreement, the UK government commits itself to a "normalisation of security arrangements and practices" in Northern Ireland. The government has begun a process of demilitarisation. Currently there are 13,500 troops in Northern Ireland, the lowest level since 1970. Troops are rarely seen on the streets of Belfast and Londonderry and routine military patrolling has been reduced by over 50% since the signing of the Agreement. Many security installations and observation posts have been vacated. Broadway and Templar House observation posts were vacated in June 2000 and Borucki observation sangar in Crossmaglen and the observation post at Cloghoge and Cookstown army base have been demolished. Fort George and Long Kesh army camps have been demolished and three of the six patrol bases in Fermanagh have been demolished and the remainder should be demolished by May 2001. Army watchtowers are still active in South Armagh and will remain active until there is a reduction in the level of threat from dissident republicans.

The government's commitment to a process of demilitarisation and the removal of emergency powers will depend on "the level of overall threat". The Agreement also commits the UK government to continue its consultations on the number of legally held firearms. It is estimated that there are 180,000 legally held weapons in Northern Ireland, the majority of them held by the unionist community. The Irish government commits itself to initiating a "wide-ranging review of the Offences Against the State Acts 1939-85" with a view to reform as circumstances permit.

Audio and Video
Links to audio and video selections can be found at the foot of the page.

Following the IRA's move on decommissioning in October 2001, the British Army responded by dismantling two watch towers in South Armagh and an Army base in Magherafelt.

Key Newspaper Articles
IRA move could see guns traded
Violence flares at watchtowers
Sinn Féin demands swift response
 Audio/Visual resources:    
Image of soldiers dismantling an army sangar    

Other essays in The Good Friday Agreement - Policing and justice:

Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland
Criminal justice Review


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