Politician, policeman, paramilitary

It has emerged that a former deputy mayor of Ballymena was a leader of the unionist paramilitary UDA while he was a serving British Army officer. Despite British Army intelligence being aware of his dual role, he was allowed to continue his activities and later went on to serve in the RUC police.

Former unionist councillor Clifford Davison has admitted that while he was serving as a lance corporal in the Ulster Defence Regiment he was also a commander in the UDA.

Davison was identified from the ‘Subversion in the UDR’ document, which confirms large-scale and semi-official collusion between British forces and unionist paramilitaries.

In one section the report’s authors comment on the ease with which unionism and paramilitarism overlapped in British foces.

“In many areas where officers and men have known each other all their lives through church or social or Orange Order activities, membership of a Protestant paramilitary group might not be considered at all unusual or worth reporting to higher authority,” the report states.

One UDR man, described as “a good citizen” and “a model soldier”, was identified as head of the Ballymena UDA, who had secured arms and ammunition for the UDA. At the same time, he was deputy chairman of a District Council.

Mr Davison -- who left the North of Ireland 20 years ago -- has confirmed to reporters that the British army was aware of his links to the murder gangs.

He confirms that at no point was he questioned by his superiors about the allegations that military intelligence had made against him. He rejects allegations of criminal activity.

“These are shocking revelations,” said local nationalist councillor Declan O’Loan. “There was ready acceptance of common membership in these organisations.

“Davison’s prominent role in Ballymena council was presented as evidence that UDA membership and activity, including the supply of weaponry, was widespread and almost respectable.”

O’Loan said that in the 1970s it appeared that membership of the UDA, the UDR and RUC reserve was “almost interchangeable”.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News