A dedication ceremony at Belfast City Hall for former UDR officers will finally go ahead — five years after it was originally proposed.
But news that the memorial window and granite bench had got the green light ignited another war of words between unionist and nationalist councillors.
The Operation Banner memorial ceremony will now be held on June 2 to dedicate the installation of the UDR window, while the bench will also be placed in the Garden of Remembrance.
Operation Banner was the name for the Army operation in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.
The original motion put forward by the DUP’s Ruth Patterson (right) requesting a memorial had been agreed back in 2007.
But the proposal sparked controversy among victims’ groups and was opposed by Sinn Fein.
However, an equality impact assessment of the memorabilia in City Hall was approved by the Council last December.
Ms Patterson said: “As we move forward to the dedication ceremony of the window and of the bench I would like to thank the staff of the council for working so diligently.”
But Sinn Fein’s Gerard O’Neill described the Army operation as “an absolute total disaster”.
“It not only hung heavy over the heads for many, many years of people in our community,” he said. “Many people lost their lives, were severely injured, lost loved ones, their homes were wrecked, innocent people were jailed.
“The only good thing that happened the UDR was its disbandment.”
The DUP’s Christopher Stalford branded the comments as “bitter”. “It is a shame that an attempt by Alderman Patterson to reflect on the fact that she brought this motion five years ago and that she is glad that this issue is now been dealt with once and for all should have been used for that,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is there are thousands of people without husbands, without wives, without loved ones because of the Provisional IRA and other terrorist organisations in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“The UDR was not a terrorist organisation. Here we have a perfect example of the bitter, mean-spirited nastiness that this party in Belfast, more so than any other party of Northern Ireland, exhibits.”