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For the regiment of the same name, disbanded in 1922, see Royal Irish Regiment (1684-1922)
The Royal Irish Regiment (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th and Ulster Defence Regiment)
Active 1 July 1992-present
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Army
Type Line Infantry
Role 1st Battalion - Air Assault / Light Inf
2nd Battalion - TA Reserve[1]
Size Two battalions
Garrison/HQ RHQ - Holywood
1st Battalion - Ternhill
2nd Battalion - Portadown
Motto(s) "Faugh A Ballagh" (Irish)
"Clear the Way"
Colours Green, Red, Blue, Black
March Quick - Killaloe
Slow - Eileen Alannah
Mascot(s) Irish Wolfhound (Brian Boru VIII)
Anniversaries Barrosa Day, 5 March; Somme Day, 1 July
Engagements Kosovo War, Sierra Leone Civil War, Operation Banner, 2nd Gulf War, War in Afghanistan
1 R IRISH: Lt Col Ivor Gardiner [2]
2 R IRISH: Lt Col Owen Lyttle
Colonel in Chief HRH The Duke of York
Colonel of
the Regiment
Brigadier Joseph O'Sullivan
Lt Col Tim Collins OBE
Tactical Recognition Flash RIRISH TRF small.jpg
Tartan Saffron (pipes)
Hackle Green
From Royal Irish Rangers
Abbreviation R IRISH

The Royal Irish Regiment (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th and Ulster Defence Regiment) (R IRISH) is an infantry unit of the British Army.

1992 creation

With an antecedence reaching back to 1688, the regiment was formed in 1992. The creation followed the Options for Change proposals which recommended through the amalgamation of the Royal Irish Rangers and the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR). Most of the membership of the new regiment came from the UDR. This produced a regiment with eleven battalions:

  • Regular Army - General Service
    • 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment
    • 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment
  • Territorial Army
    • 4th Battalion, Royal Irish Rangers
    • 5th Battalion, Royal Irish Rangers
  • Regular Army — Northern Ireland Resident Battalions (Home Service)
    • 3rd (County Down) Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment
    • 4th (County Fermanagh and County Tyrone) Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment
    • 5th (County Londonderry) Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment
    • 6th (County Armagh) Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment (former 2nd/11th Battalion UDR)
    • 7th (City of Belfast) Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment
    • 8th (County Tyrone) Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment
    • 9th (County Antrim) Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment

The Home Service battalions, permanently based in Northern Ireland, filled the role formerly occupied by the UDR, conducting counter-terrorism operations in Northern Ireland under Operation BANNER. The 1st and 2nd Battalions could serve worldwide as general service battalions.

Because of its size, the regiment was removed from the King's Division and existed outside the divisions of infantry. In 1993, the two regular battalions were amalgamated as 1 R IRISH. In 2001, the number of Home Service battalions reduced to three:

  • 2nd Battalion — amalgamation of 7th and 9th Battalions
  • 3rd Battalion — amalgamation of 3rd and 8th Battalions[3]
  • 4th Battalion — amalgamation of 4th and 5th Battalions

Current organisation

In 2005, the government announced the end of Operation BANNER, and with it the disbandment of the Home Service battalions. These were declared non-operational in October 2006, and disbanded in July 2007. At the same time, the Royal Irish Rangers, then serving as the TA battalion, was renamed as 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment. Today, the operational command of the Royal Irish Regiment encompasses:

  • 1st Battalion — General Service
  • 2nd Battalion - Army Reserve

Regimental Headquarters was, until Summer 2007, at St Patrick's Barracks, Ballymena, and is now at Palace Barracks, Holywood, Belfast.


In 2004, a major restructuring of the infantry was announced. It recommended, inter alia, that all the remaining single battalion infantry regiments would be amalgamated. Under normal circumstances, this would have put the Royal Irish Regiment at risk but because of its unique status providing the home defence for Northern Ireland, and as the only remaining Irish line infantry regiment, it was decided to leave the Royal Irish Regiment as it was. This allowed a 'line infantry footprint' to remain in Northern Ireland.

In Northern Ireland the Regiment recruits from all sections of the community and both sides of the sectarian divide. In common with other line infantry regiments it has recruited many non-UK personnel, particularly from across the border in the Republic of Ireland, which permits its citizens to enlist in the British forces, but forbids active recruiting[citation needed].

The regiment also recruits from overseas countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Fiji and from around the Caribbean.

Current structure

1st Battalion

The 1st Battalion, as part of the restructuring of the infantry, has assumed a fixed role as a light role battalion, rotating with two other line infantry/rifles battalions in the air assault role as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade. As part of this the battalion moved from Fort George, Inverness to Tern Hill in 2007. In September 2008 the battalion completed a tour in the Operational Mentoring and Liaison role in Afghanistan (Op HERRICK VIII) and returned to Shropshire, following which it became the first unit in the Army to receive three Conspicuous Gallantry Crosses (CGC) in a single operation. The Battalion has since deployed again to Afghanistan with 16 Air Assault in HERRICK XIII.[4][5][6] Under Army 2020, the battalion will remain at Tern Hill but it will not remain as part of 16 AA BDE.[7] Instead, it is given a light protected mobility role.[8]

Northern Ireland Resident Battalions (Home Service)

The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) announced an end to its armed campaign in the summer of 2005. In response the United Kingdom government announced military cuts which included the Royal Irish Regiment. Having played a significant role in creating the environment for normalisation the Home Service Battalions of the Regiment were told that they would be disbanded. In March 2006, a redundancy package was announced and they ceased to be operational in October that year. On 1 August 2007 Operation BANNER, the military support to the civilian police (the Police Service of Northern Ireland, PSNI) in Northern Ireland ended, and the three HS battalions were disbanded.[9]

Adam Ingram, Armed Forces Minister said[citation needed]:

We will never forget that over 200 Royal Irish home service/UDR personnel have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in Northern Ireland. I know that the day of disbandment will be a sad one for the battalion and for each and every member of the home service, but we should take the opportunity and look at how far we have come.

Regimental Colonel Mark Campbell said 'The end of Operation BANNER (the military operation in support of the Police Service of Northern Ireland) reflects the success of the home service whose men and women have played a significant role in bringing Northern Ireland to the far more peaceful circumstances it enjoys today.'

Conspicuous Gallantry Cross

[citation needed]

The home service battalions were awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC) by HM The Queen in Belfast, on 6 October 2006.[10] It is the first time the gallantry decoration, second in precedence only to the Victoria Cross, has been awarded to a military unit rather than to an individual member of the armed forces.

The 1st Battalion, other than accepting transfers of willing Home Service soldiers into its Order of battle, was unaffected by these disbandments. As part of the reduction of Army strength in Northern Ireland to a conventional garrison, the RHQ in Ballymena was designated for closure. It closed in the Summer of 2008, with Royal Irish RHQ moving to Palace Barracks in Belfast. The Royal Irish band, the largest musical ensemble in the British Army, has been transferred to the Territorial Army.

The 2nd Battalion (previously The Rangers)

Individual members of the Rangers served on operations in Op TELIC in Iraq. They served with 1 R IRISH during the ground war in 2003 and, inter alia, the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (PWRR) in Al Amarrah and in other areas of Iraq with 1 R IRISH and The London Regiment. With 1 R IRISH now back as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade, the newly titled 2nd Battalion are now trained for a more operational role commitment, in support of their regular counterparts as Air Assault Infantry. A formed company (Imjin Company) of 2 R IRISH was part of the R IRISH Battlegroup (BG) in Helmand in HERRICK VIII while over 80 members of 2 R IRISH served with 1 R IRISH in HERRICK XIII in 2010-11. As of 4 April 2012, 2 R IRISH has now been assigned a fixed role with 16 Air Assault Brigade, the UK's Worldwide Rapid Reaction Brigade, supporting 1 R IRISH.

Under Army 2020, it will be an Army Reserve light infantry battalion under 7th Infantry Brigade and not under 16th Air Assault.[11]

Recent deployments

British Army arms and services
Flag of the British Army.svg
Combat Arms
Royal Armoured Corps
Special Air Service
Army Air Corps
Special Reconnaissance Regiment
Combat Support Arms
Royal Artillery
Royal Engineers
Royal Corps of Signals
Intelligence Corps
Combat Services
Royal Army Chaplains' Department
Royal Logistic Corps
Army Medical Services
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Adjutant General's Corps
Small Arms School Corps
Royal Army Physical Training Corps
General Service Corps
Corps of Army Music

The 1st Battalion is currently part of 16 Air Assault Brigade. This Brigade is one of two British light brigades, designed to be capable of rapidly deploying to trouble spots around the world.

In 2000 in Sierra Leone, while deployed to train government troops, eleven Royal Irish soldiers and their local army liaison officer, were kidnapped by the West Side Boys insurgents. Five hostages were later released and the remaining six were freed by the Special Air Service and The Parachute Regiment during Operation BARRAS, with the West Side Boys suffering severe casualties in the action.[12]

1 R IRISH deployed to Iraq at the beginning of Operation Telic in March 2003, where they carried out operations in the south of the country. Its now-retired Commanding Officer, Lt Col Tim Collins was honoured with an Officer of the Order of the British Empire OBE for distinguished service.

1 R IRISH returned from six months in Iraq on Op TELIC 6/7 where they served in the Shaibah Logistics Base near Basra. Although the majority of the Battalion was deployed around the MND(SE) area a single Company was deployed to Baghdad.

Three platoons of 1 R IRISH (Barrosa, Somme and Ranger Platoons) deployed to Afghanistan in 2006, as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade and supported 3rd Parachute Regiment, the later forming 9 Platoon, C Coy, 3 PARA. They were involved in some of the heaviest fighting during HERRICK IV. Lance Corporal Paul Muirhead, Lance Corporal Luke McCulloch and Ranger Anare Draiva lost their lives to enemy fire during HERRICK IV.

1 R IRISH and 2 R IRISH deployed to Afghanistan in 2008, as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade. 1 R IRISH provided Operational mentoring and Liaison Teams (OMLT) to assist in training the Afgahn National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP), and 2 R IRISH were the first Territorial Army company strength grouping to provide OMLT training from NATO forces. They were also the first TA Company to fully man Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) within the green zone. One Company of the 1st Battalion, attached to 2 PARA, named Ranger Company, undertook offensive operations in the Sangin area of Helmand Province. 1 R IRISH lost Ranger Justin Cupples to an improvised explosive device (IED) during HERRICK VIII.

1 and 2 R IRISH again deployed with 16 Air Assault Brigade to Afghanistan on HERRICK XIII from September 2010. Based in the southern part of Helmand, they lost three soldiers during their operational tour. 1 R IRISH lost Lance Corporal Stephen McKee, Ranger Aaron McCormick and Ranger David Dalzell during HERRICK XIII.

Operational honours



Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scrolls

Up to May 2010, 32 Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scrolls have been issued to the families of Royal Irish personnel.[24]

Other information

In memory of a conflict, in 2006, involving the regiment in a battle in the town of Musa Qala in Afghanistan, a new Regimental March, composed by Chris Attrill and commissioned by Larne Borough Council, was given to the regiment on Saturday 1 November 2008 in Larne, County Antrim during an event in which the regiment was also presented with the 'Freedom of the Borough'. This gives the regiment the right to march through the town with 'flags flying, bands playing and bayonets fixed'. The March was named, 'Musa Qala'.[25]

Order of precedence

Preceded by
The Royal Welsh
Infantry Order of Precedence Succeeded by
The Parachute Regiment


Royal Irish Regiment (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th and Ulster Defence Regiment) The Royal Irish Rangers (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th) The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers The 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot
The 108th Regiment of Foot (Madras Infantry)
The Royal Ulster Rifles The 83rd (County of Dublin) Regiment of Foot
The 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot
The Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria's) The 87th (Royal Irish Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot
The 89th (The Princess Victoria's) Regiment of Foot
The Ulster Defence Regiment



  1. "MOD website". Retrieved 28 November 2007. 
  2. "Belfast Telegraph". Retrieved 20 November 2007. 
  4. "MOD Website". Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  5. "MOD Website — support R IRISH in Afghanistan". Retrieved 16 August 2008. 
  6. "MOD Website -". Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  9. "BBC Website "NI soldiers getting £250m pay-off"". BBC News. 9 March 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  10. "MOD Website (google cache) "Queen awards Conspicuous Gallantry Cross to the Royal Irish Regiment"". Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  12. "BBC Website". BBC News. 30 August 2000. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  13. "COI Website — Awards". Retrieved 16 October 2007. [dead link]
  14. "MOD Website – Op TELIC Awards". Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  15. "Ministry of Defence". Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  16. "Ministry of Defence". Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  17. "Ministry of Defence". Retrieved 6 March 2009. 
  18. "Ministry of Defence". Retrieved 6 March 2009. 
  19. "Ministry of Defence". Retrieved 6 March 2009. 
  20. "Daily Telegraph". The Daily Telegraph. London. 14 December 2006. Retrieved 28 November 2007. 
  21. "Ministry of Defence". Retrieved 6 March 2009. 
  22. "Ministry of Defence". Retrieved 6 March 2009. 
  23. "Ministry of Defence". Retrieved 6 March 2009. 
  24. "Response to a Freedom of Information Act request". Retrieved 11 June 2010. 
  25. Freedom of the Borough

External links

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