Community Legacy Politics

Alliance Party Votes With DUP,TUV and UUP to Commemorate UDR

Belfast City Council has agreed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the UDR Greenfinches. At the monthly meeting of the full Belfast City Council on Monday, the Alliance Party voted alongside the TUV and UUP in support of a DUP motion supporting the UDR.

The motion, states that the council “recognises the 50th Anniversary of Greenfinches in Northern Ireland, (and) remembers that on July 6th 1973 the Ulster Defence Regiment Bill permitted the recruitment of women into the Ulster Defence Regiment.”

The DUP, Alliance, UUP and PUP supported the motion with 29 votes, while Sinn Féin, the SDLP and People Before Profit voted against with 26 votes.

DUP Councillor Sarah Bunting said: “The Greenfinches are a shining example of bravery, dedication, and selfless service. In the early days of the Ulster Defence Regiment female members of the Royal Military Police accompanied patrols when available to enable female suspects to be searched.

“There were never enough RMP searchers so in 1973 the act was passed in parliament to recruit women into the regiment. This use of women as an integrated part of the regiment preceded similar use in the regular army by 20 years.

“To join, married women were required to submit written submissions from their husbands, and those with children were obliged to sign a declaration confirming child care arrangements. In 1986 there were 286 full time and 530 part time Greenfinches.

The Deputy Mayor, Alliance Councillor Michelle Kelly, added: “I think it is important to reflect on the full diversity of the council area, and there is a need to ensure that women are appropriately reflected in council tributes.

“We of course recognise there are sensitivities in relation to our past and we look forward to seeing what the tribute will look like and for it to be handled respectfully, recognising the diverse views in our community, whilst also supporting those who continue to fight against terrorism.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Joe Duffy told the committee: “There is nothing to celebrate in a regiment so discredited the British government was forced to have it disbanded. It is a matter of historical fact that members of the UDR were directly involved in sectarian killings, including the passing on of information about nationalists and republicans to loyalist gangs.

“Multiple reports, including reports from British state agencies exposed damning levels of criminality within, and cited the UDR as a chief source of loyalist weaponry. Many members of the UDR were also members of the UVF, UDA and other loyalist paramilitary organisations.

“UDR check points had terrifying consequences for people stopped by them. The Miami Showband massacre in 1975 happened after the band was stopped by a UDR roadblock, and the murder of GAA fans such as Colm McCartney and Sean Farmer in August that year as they returned from a match at Croke Park are among the litany of sectarian violence attributed to this British Army regiment.

“Maybe we should be focusing our efforts tonight on making clear our opposition to attempts by the British government to legislate in Westminster, giving an amnesty to British state forces who killed Irish citizens here. That’s what the Legacy Bill will do, it will protect British soldiers and others connected to the state involvement in brutal murders.”


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