Statement from Mark Thompson, Director of Relatives for Justice concerning the UDR statue unveiled today in Lisburn
‘The role of the UDR in the conflict has alway been clouded in controversy not least that regiment’s direct links to loyalism. Hundreds of its members have been involved in loyalist activity including murder and many nationalists rightly saw the UDR as a sectarian force.
‘in more recent years that view has been validated by official British governmental documents, released under the 30 year rule and at Kew Gardens London, showing clearly that the British government knew that the UDR was heavily penetrated by loyalism and that the loyalty of the UDR was not to the British government but to Ulster. Many of these memos also relate to bogus raids on UDR armouries in which significant amounts of weapons were provided to loyalism and used in the murders of Catholics. What is appalling is that the British government refused to act at the time.
‘The eventual disbandment of this regiment was too little too late.
‘Whilst former members of the UDR and their families have every right to remember and commemorate this should not be allowed to be a revised history. We must also acknowledge and remember that there are many, many victims of the UDR.
‘What is particularly abhorrent for those affected by the combined actions of the UDR and loyalism is that Lisburn Council used rate-payers’ money to commission and fund this statue, and place it within the City’s civic space, especially when so many of its rate-payers experienced loss and injury directly and indirectly at the hands of the UDR.
‘Furthermore Lisburn Council have key legal and statutory obligations, not least Section 75 of the GFA, in which as a public body it must discharge its duties with due regard for that legislation. In using rate-payers’ money Lisburn Council did not carry out any equality impact assessment (EQIA) or in any way consider the views of all of its rate-payers when commissioning and funding this statue.
‘This is not the first time that Lisburn Council has acted in contravention of its legal obligations and today I have spoken with several families from within the borough, both bereaved and injured in incidents involving the UDR, who feel strongly about this matter and who are collectively considering lodging a complaint to the Equality Commission and seeking legal advice about judicially reviewing the actions of Lisburn Council on this matter.
‘Lisburn Council needs to explain to all of its rate-payers how it can fund this work to the absolute exclusion of those bereaved and injured by this same organisation – the UDR.’