In January 1960 the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Lord Brookeborough, paid a special tribute to the “businessmen-cum-soldiers”, namely the B Specials, who had “helped the police to keep the IRA raiders south of the border”.
He made his tribute to the ‘Specials’ during a luncheon in his honour held by the Reading (Berkshire) Ulster Association.
The Ulster PM said: “The past three years have been trying times for us all in Northern Ireland.
“It is a tremendous strain on the people and we can all be proud that they have not lost their heads in view of what has happened.
“It is only through the stolid common sense of the Ulstermen that there have been no reprisals against the IRA during these last few years.”
Hailing the work of these “part-time soldiers” Lord Brookeborough remarked: “Men who are in every type of business have become part-time soldiers, at least one night each week.
“They have done duty on the roads to safeguard their families and their own way of life. The next day they have returned to do their ordinary day’s work.
“We in Northern Ireland have a duty – to maintain our position and our strong loyalty to the Crown.
“In our hearts we say thank you to those men who have been, and still are, doing a great job of work.”
Responding to press reports that fear was widespread in the Province the Ulster, he said: “In my tours of the counties I have never seen fear – just a look of determination and respect for their menfolk who are out guarding the roads after nightfall. I take my hat off to all of them.”
Continuing on the prickly question of the IRA, Lord Brookeborough said: “The aim of these outrages is to coerce Northern Ireland into an all-Ireland Republic.
“But the campaign has failed, and terrorism has suffered a reverse.
“There will be no change in Northern Ireland’s constitutional position. We believe our destiny is indissolubly linked with that of Britain.
“I know that you Ulster people here and elsewhere throughout the Commonwealth, will always support by word and deed our two main objectives.
“First, to remain part of the UK and second to make Ulster a still better place in which to live.”
In a further speech given at the annual dinner of the Bristol and District Ulster Association Lord Brookeborough went further reiterating that the people of Ulster would never agree to join the Irish Free State.
He said: “We have the problem of facing IRA activity and have suffered from it I am quite unable to explain to you the object of these attacks. It is given out that they intend to try to drive out the British Army.
“The suggestion is that we in Ulster are held down by the Army, and that if it were not for the Army we would all join up with the Free State.
“But you English people cannot perhaps see the situation as we see it.
“We refuse on any account to join with a country which, of its own choice – and I am not criticising it, it was for them to, decide – separated from the Commonwealth, a country on its own.
“During the last three years you who are here have taken the fact that you are British, and your acceptance of Her Majesty the Queen as being your Queen, without any thought crossing your mind of being challenged.”
He concluded: “But we have had to fight for it.”