RELATIVES for Justice have said that they would welcome any opportunity to engage with ex-members of the UDR.
The group were commenting on Magherafelt District Council’s decision to defer funding from a group of retired UDR Green Finches for a lecture on the History of Militia, including the UDR, planned for a local Orange Hall.
Relatives spokesperson Mark Thompson said: “As an organisation supporting victims and survivors we would welcome any opportunity for genuine engagement with ex-members of the UDR concerning legacy issues pertaining to the conflict.
“As a combatant grouping to the conflict it would be important for ex-members of the UDR to hear firsthand the experiences of victims and survivors who suffered. Relatives for Justice believe that this type of engagement would be beneficial for the entire community and promote better relations.
“We would also urge the Council to facilitate where possible constructive discussion on these very sensitive and important issues from which we can all learn.”
Sinn Fein council leader Sean McPeake said: “We simply did not see how a lecture such as this taking place within a local orange hall would in any way contribute to building good relations for our communities within the district.
“It is widely viewed by most nationalists and republicans that the UDR were not ‘neutral players’ within the conflict here in the north.
“I would however welcome and support any application coming before council which would facilitate a truly inclusive discussion around the historical context that the UDR regiment operated in and the part which the regiment played in the recent troubles.
“If this inclusive discussion was to take place with a cross section of contributors providing the broad spectrum of narratives that exist at a suitable venue, then I believe this type of event would indeed be worthy of council support.”