09th March 2006
Disgust at RIR pay-off – repugnant and offensive
Relatives of people killed and injured by the British army have reacted with anger at today’s announcements by British Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram, regarding the severance packages being offered to members of the UDR/RIR.
Speaking on behalf of Relatives for Justice, a support group for many people affected British army violence, Tommy Carroll, whose brother Roddy was killed by the UDR in 1982, said:
“Today’s announcement has left us reeling. It is offensive. Once again the British Government has provided gratuitous pay-offs to its armed forces. Reports today that full-time members of the UDR/RIR will receive a pension, a redundancy payment and a tax-free pay off of £28,000 is just repugnant.
“This regiment’s reputation for violent sectarianism and notoriety as a result of many members’ involvement in brutality and killings of nationalists led to the British Government being forced to disband it. This is a pay-off to put a gloss on what was otherwise a shameful chapter.- It is an affront to the memory of those killed as a result of UDR/RIR activities and all decent people who had the misfortune to endure the sectarian abuse and harassment that was the UDR/RIR.’
Today’s announcement will cause further hurt and anger throughout the community. Far from what Mr Ingram said today this was not a regiment doing “a vital job well done”. They did not complete their job “professionally”. The experience of the UDR/RIR for this community was one of constant sectarian harassment and violence. This so often took the form of brutality on roadsides up and down the country. Lives were taken with impunity. It took the form of loyalist killers wearing a UDR/RIR uniform and being given cover.
For many their “duty” saw no distinction between their role in the UDR/RIR and their loyalist murder gang of choice. For those nationalists on the receiving end there was little distinction either.
“Today’s announcement raises a number of further questions. Will those members of the UDR/RIR who were convicted of membership of loyalist killer
gangs and also murders of nationalists, be eligible for these payments? The Pat Finucane Centre recently uncovered the appalling situation where RUC/UVF killer Billy McCaughey was paid his RUC pension while in prison for sectarian murder.
Is this precedent going to be followed for UDR/UVF/UFF. If members of the UDR/RIR are arrested and charged by the current investigations by the PSNI’s HET will they still be eligible for these payments? Will payments made be retrievable? This is a matter of huge public interest and we urge Mr Ingram to clarify his position immediately.
“Those of us who lost loved ones at the hands of the British army received paltry compensation if any. Some families will speak of the appalling situation where widows, in the weeks after their husbands were killed by the British army, were told by NIO officials that they were now better off because while they might not get compensation, they had a widows pension, which was better than their husband’s earnings or dole payment. They were then told to go home. Today’s announcement resurrects these terrible injustices.
“However the issue of money and compensation is of little interest. The issues of truth and justice are paramount. Families bereaved by state violence did not see the killers held accountable by any semblance of law or order. In fact, more often than not, those responsible compounded injury by covering up the killings and spreading lies. And were assisted in doing so by the nature of the DPP and the courts. For historical record and for justice the truth of this regiments’ role in its campaign of sectarian harassment and violence must be independently investigated and the truth told.
“When Adam Ingram states that this regiment will never be forgotten he is right – they were responsible for killing in uniform and many colluded with loyalists, particularly in rural areas. The families whose loved ones they killed and whose lives they ruined will never forget them. Some media reports estimate a senior officer in the UDR with 22 yrs service getting a cheque of over £150,000. Such an officer would have been serving at the height of UDR collusion with loyalists.
“The British Government has yet to recognise the terrible injustices it inflicted through its armed forces, it has yet to face up to policies of collusion, of which the UDR/RIR was at the heart.
“Announcements such as the pay-off for RUC members and now for the UDR/RIR rubs salt into open unhealed wounds. It is time for the British Government to meet its obligations to victims through truth and acknowledgement.”