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Council's memorial for UDR angers Sinn Fein


Proposal: Danny Kinahan

Proposal: Danny Kinahan

Proposal: Danny Kinahan

A council is to mark the 50th anniversary of the Ulster Defence Regiment with a permanent memorial in Ballyclare despite outrage from Sinn Fein, which branded the move "disgraceful".

The UDR was formed in 1970 as the Troubles erupted and was at the forefront of efforts to combat republican terrorism, but a number of its members colluded with loyalist terrorists.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has now voted in favour of a memorial following a proposal by Ulster Unionist Danny Kinahan.

The former captain in the Blues and Royals Regiment said that the UDR "did many great things, worked all day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for many years".

"Without their commitment and sacrifice, the police could have been overwhelmed," DUP councillor Paul Dunlop said.

More than 190 members were killed, and another 60 were killed after leaving the regiment.

UUP councillor Robert Foster said that the role of the UDR "cannot be understated or forgotten" having "paid a very heavy price and many more wounded physically and mentally".

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He spoke of a "lifetime spent looking over your shoulder and under your car".

He noted that the regiment had "strong bonds and connections" to Antrim, Ballyclare and Newtownabbey.

"To recognise their role and sacrifice is something I feel strongly about".

Opposing the memorial, Sinn Fein councillor Taylor McGrann said he "immediately thought of the Miami Showband and their families".

Two UDR members were convicted for their role in the UVF atrocity.

Three band members and two of the terrorists, who were also UDR members, died after a bomb they were planting on the band's bus at a bogus checkpoint exploded prematurely.

Victims of the attack are currently suing the Ministry of Defence and PSNI amid allegations of collusion.

Mr McGrann said: "This is just one case of this regiment of the British Army carrying out murder on innocent people. There were many others.

"The UDR eventually disbanded in 1992 before the ceasefire or the Good Friday Agreement.

"To me, they were a failure to everything that they represented, hence why they were disbanded before the conflict actually ended."

SDLP councillor Roisin Lynch said: "We are now in 2020.

"We as an SDLP group want to be good and tolerant neighbours and recognise the motion as genuine.

"We ask that it could be treated with sensitivity as there is much hurt within the community and the nationalist community."

Alliance councillor Tom Campbell said he was "disappointed to hear such bitter views" from Mr McGrann.

He recalled Bloody Friday, saying that "innocent members of the public were exposed to bombs that killed and maimed many people".

The proposal for a memorial in Ballyclare was carried by 27 votes in favour and five against.

The SDLP abstained.

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