As the latest de-classified files are opened, the opinion of some of those in power are delivered almost as gospel, opinions expressed in these documents are heralded as the factual account of that time and given evidential weight that is not usually given to the expression of opinion.
I am not the only one who is sick, sore and tired of personal opinions that turn into attacks upon past serving soldiers, in this case the members of the UDR.
That such a scurrilous opinion of the UDR in 1989 has been recently recorded as fact is insulting to the extreme, not only to those who sacrificed safety to provide others with security but to their families whose lives were fraught with fear and worry.
I served in the UDR in 1974-1975 and 1976-1977 and every one of those part-time UDR that I had the honour of serving with were wonderful people – male and female – who joined to stop terrorism from whatever source it arose.
For the 1989 report to state that officers made decisions on applications because the soldiers lived in the area is outrageous and that the police screening of UDR recruits was inadequate is not true, I would like to see the evidence to back this statement up.
It is clear the evidence is sadly lacking and that sums it up and this is how opinion seeks to become fact – repeat it often enough and the myth will become truth in many people’s minds.
Let me remind you of a few facts. UDR full-time and part-time soldiers who served, worked long hours, under threat, checking under cars, living in the eye of the storm daily along with their entire families.
The facts are that 197 soldiers were killed, the majority were off-duty, and a further 60 were killed after they had left the UDR.
The facts are that 953 individuals received awards through the British honours system including: 12 Queen’s Gallantry Medals; two Military Medals; 88 BEMs; 108 OBEs and 276 Mentions in Despatches. There were hundreds injured who live with those injuries today.
All of this was done to protect our mothers, sisters and daughters – our fathers, brothers and sons. Because of their sacrifice we in our communities – both Protestant and Catholic – are alive today.
This so-called report offers no facts and no evidence and merely reports scurrilous accusations that have no weight and the publication of this as factual is an insult to every individual who served or was part of a family of those who served.
To all of those who served in that uniform, we salute your bravery, courage and sacrifice again.
Jim Shannon, MP Strangford