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Fighting Fit Exhibition

01/10/2021 @ 5:00 pm - 02/10/2021 @ 6:00 pm

Northern Ireland has had to literally fight for its survival. From the time of the Home Rule Crisis when unionists armed to defend their liberty against the implosion of a Dublin Parliament through the sacrifice of the Somme the sons and daughters of Ulster proved themselves willing to defend their hearth and home. The fledging state faced an onslaught from their neighbours to the South as they suffered daily incursions and attacks culminating in the invasion of County Fermanagh around Pettigo. This required British Army action supported by artillery barrage to take back that part of Northern Ireland. Co-ordinated with this was the terrorist campaign waged by the IRA from within the country, assassination, arson and insurrection aimed at toppling the new state continued for months.

In the face of this threat, and the campaign of boycott by the nationalist community which refused to acknowledge the state, the new Northern Ireland Government was forced to fight for its very survival and mobilised its own people. The Ulster Special Constabulary formed the backbone of this resistance, and secured the border. Their determination, local knowledge and fighting spirit saw the defeat of Irish Republican terrorism and Southern Irish Aggression in what should rightly be called the Ulster Irish War 1920-23.

Sadly this terrorist threat reared its head again in the Second World War as the IRA allied itself with Nazi Germany and indeed encouraged an invasion of Ireland. Churchill acknowledged the role of Northern Ireland in winning the war and De Valera’s Republic chose the wrong side once more. The 1950s saw another failed IRA ‘Border Campaign’ where once more the B Specials defended us and defeated the enemy.

Finally under the guise of Civil Rights the new Provisional IRA and the political wing Provisional Sinn Fein launched a terrorist campaign that was to last over thirty years. Sadly this first target was the foe they could not defeat in the field – the B Specials. In an act of political appeasement this brave force was disbanded and with it went a key feature of our defence. Replaced by the Ulster Defence Regiment which in turn proved itself a worthy successor. At a time when Republican attempt to rewrite history to air brush their atrocities from the record we must remember with pride the service and sacrifice of those brave men and women in the Police, Local security Forces and the British Army who served for over a Century to keep us free.

Today our country exists because of their courage and dedication to duty – our Fighting Fit Exhibition will look at the contribution we have made to security and democracy not just locally but globally. Local historians such as William Gordon will use their amazing collections of military artefacts to tell that story and help future generations better understand the legacy of those who came before.


01/10/2021 @ 5:00 pm
02/10/2021 @ 6:00 pm
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Imperial Grand Lodge


ILOI Head-Quarters
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