Irish Republican News · March 13, 2006
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
‘Blood money’ for British soldiers

Relatives of people killed by locally recruited British soldiers in the North of Ireland have described a massive cash payout to the 3,000 troops as ‘repugnant and offensive’.

The British government announced the severance package for members for the Royal Irish Regiment (formerly Ulster Defence Regiment) after six months of pressure by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The disbandment of RIR units based in the Six Counties was announced last July. The soldiers are to receive over forty thousand Euro (fifty thousand dollars) on top of a redundancy payment and life pension.

Between 1970 and 1990, over 300 members of the UDR were convicted of serious loyalist offences.

Following the collusion scandal of the late 1980s, when British Army photo montages of Catholics were published by unionist paramilitaries, the British government renamed the regiment as the RIR. However, even as recently as July 2004, 28 RIR members were removed from duties after the “disappearance” of a major intelligence document about 400 nationalists from the Castlereagh security base in east Belfast.

Relatives for Justice (RFJ), which campaigns for victims affected by state violence, condemned the severance payments.

RFJ spokesperson Tommy Carroll, whose brother Adrian was killed by UDR members in 1983, said: “This is a payoff 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 the UDR/RIR activities and all decent people who had the misfortune to endure the sectarian abuse and harrassment that was the UDR/RIR.

“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.

“The issue of truth and justice are paramount. 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,” Mr Carroll said.

Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Michelle Gildernew, described the RIR and UDR as a “paramilitary force”.

“Sinn Féin have consistently raised the issue of the continuing role of the RIR, its sectarian composition and its collusion with the unionist paramilitaries,” Ms Gildernew said.

“The issue of collusion and the RIR will not go away. Unionist arguments about the economic implications resulting from the scrapping of the RIR expose the truth about their opposition to progress on demilitarisation. It is based on unionist self-interest not the interests of the peace process or the demilitarisation of our society.

“Rather than seek a British exchequer subvention of millions for the exclusive benefit of the unionist population, I believe that many people in places like Fermanagh and Tyrone would prefer to see this money spent on improving the roads infrastructure, improving local schools and in developing the local economy to the benefit of everyone,” Ms Gildernew said.

We have a favour to ask

We want to keep our publication as available as we can, so we need to ask for your help. Irish Republican News takes time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe it makes a difference. If everyone who reads our website helps fund it, our future would be much more secure.

For as little as £1, you can support Irish Republican News – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

© 2006 Irish Republican News