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Antrim council's £1,000 for UDR event prompts Sinn Fein claim of double standards

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A UDR parade takes place outside Belfast City Hall in January 1976

A UDR parade takes place outside Belfast City Hall in January 1976

James McKeown

James McKeown

Paul Reid

Paul Reid

A UDR parade takes place outside Belfast City Hall in January 1976

A request for financial support to celebrate the formation of the UDR has sparked controversy in a Co Antrim council.

The appeal, made by Carrickfergus UDR Veterans' Association, was discussed at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council on Monday night.

The UDR was formed in 1970 and was at the forefront of efforts to combat republican terrorism, but a number of its members colluded with loyalists and committed terrorist acts.

The association plans to parade through Carrickfergus to the town's cenotaph on April 4 for a short religious service.

Councillors agreed to a request for £1,000 funding.

Sinn Fein's James McKeown said while he had no objection to the event being held, he did to the council "grant".

Chief executive Anne Donaghy stated that it was not a grant.

Backing for the UDR Association's request was proposed by Knockagh councillor Noel Williams, who said: "I am happy to support their request. I believe the council should support them in a variety of ways."

Mr McKeown said there were "financial implications", although he said he "does not have a problem with the UDR holding a ceremony".

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James McKeown

James McKeown

James McKeown

DUP councillor Billy Ashe said: "I am happy to second. I think that £1,000 is a small price to pay for saving many, many lives, for protecting people in their hours of need. I would be delighted to."

Mr McKeown said: "Not everyone views the UDR as he does."

Mr Ashe added: "I'm not putting any spin on anything. This is fact. It is not my community trying to rewrite history, not my community that started the terrorist campaign. It is our community's men and women who served in the UDR."

Larne DUP councillor Paul Reid told the meeting: "You have to bear in mind these were brave men and women who worked by day and served our little province at night. It was madness. Murder, bombs and bullets were the order of the day.

"I am proud to be associated with anyone trying to make a difference. The peace we have today is due to people like this who served in the UDR, Greenfinches, RUC, RUC Reserve and all Her Majesty's forces who paid a big price in Northern Ireland."

Afterwards Mr McKeown said that when a request for funding of an event during Irish Language Week was brought to council, it was refused with the explanation that there were "funding streams" for such applications.

He indicated that all funding applications should follow the same procedure.

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