Bradley opposes ‘provocative’ B-Special/UDR Assembly motion

June 1, 2010

SDLP Newry and Armagh MLA Dominic Bradley has opposed a ‘deliberately provocative’ Assembly motion brought by the DUP to extol the virtues of the B-Specials in UDR.

Speaking during the Assembly debate on the subject, Mr Bradley said those who brought it to the floor of the House were aware that it was provocative

“There are deep sensitivities around this motion for people from all sides of our community.  Some unionist people watching this debate will have had family members who were members of the UDR and some will have family members who were murdered.  There are probably members of this House who were in the UDR and who knew other members who were murdered.  Likewise some nationalist people as well as members of this house have had family members who were murdered at the hands of UDR members acting in collusion with loyalist paramilitaries,” Mr Bradley said.

“A sectarian slanging match across the floor of this House will not serve well the memory of the dead.  It is not what the families would want; it is to no one’s benefit.  What the families want is to know the truth about how their loved ones died and to have that truth acknowledged.

“In my native village I lived in the same street as men and women who were in the UDR, some of whom spent the best part of their adult lives serving.  I still meet them and their close relatives in social and other settings.  I do not seek to demonise everyone who was in the UDR.  That would be wrong. But I think that it would also be wrong to deny that members of that regiment acted outside of the law and sometimes in collusion with loyalist paramilitaries and that they were involved in some of the most horrible atrocities committed during the course of the violence.


“A group, comprising of loyalist paramilitaries, members of the RUC and its Reserve as well as members of the UDR known as the Glenanne Gang was responsible for at least 18 gun and bomb attacks in which 58 people were murdered and had its headquarters on the farm of James Mitchel in County Armagh just outside the village of Glenanne.  One of the gang’s members former RUC Sergeant John Weir confessed to his part in its activities and exposed the gang’s members.

Weir was a member of the RUC specialist anti-terrorist unit, the Special Patrol Group (SPG).  In his evidence he names Robin Jackson, a loyalist paramilitary from Lurgan and Robert Mc Connell,   among the members of the gang.  He states that UDR member Mc Connell and Jackson were responsible for the murder of republican John Frances Greene at Mollyash near Castleblayney

The Dublin-Monaghan bombings were co-ordinated from Mitchel’s farm and the explosives stored there.  The explosives for both attacks had been provided by Captain John Irwin, an Intelligence Officer in the UDR. The bombs had been assembled at the farmhouse in Glenanne, which was owned by the RUC Officer James Mitchell. The main organizer of both attacks had been a Loyalist paramilitary and another named UDR Captain (Billy Hanna) from Lurgan, Co. Armagh. The bombs had been transported in cars with Robin Jackson, and this UDR Captain taking part in the Dublin attack.  Weir also states that Irwin belonged to army intelligence.

The gang was responsible also for the gun and bomb attack on two pubs in Crossmaglen after which one man died; the murder of two Gaelic football supporters at Tullyvallen, the attacks on Donnelly’s Bar at Silverbridge and Kay’s Tavern in Dundalk in which four people died and others were injured.  Bomb attacks were also carried out in Castleblayney and Keady in which three people died. UDR member Robert Mc Connell was a common element in most of these attacks with UDR Captain James Irwin supplying the explosives in most cases.  Gang members were also involved in the Miami Showband killings.

Three of the Reavey brothers from Whitecross and three members of the O’Dowd family were also victims of the gang as were RUC Sergeant Joseph Campbell and Ahoghill grocer William Strathearn.

Weir himself admitted complicity in the latter murder for which he was imprisoned.

Those known to have been murdered by the Glenanne Gang, total 58 people, although when all is known that total may even be higher.  Two members of the UDR Robert Mc Connell and Captain Irwin played a central role in the gang.

UDR member Robert Mc Connell himself was murdered by the IRA, believed to have been betrayed to them by British Army Intelligence Officer Captain Robert Nairac with whom he had been working.

Sergeant John Weir of the RUC has been accepted as a credible witness by Judge Henry Barron, who inquired into the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, and by the Historical Enquiries Team here.

“The members of the UDR involved in the Glenanne Gang did not defend the population against terrorism.  They did the opposite.  They acted outside the law in collusion with loyalist paramilitaries and brought death, injury and destruction to scores of innocent people.  That is why the SDLP has lodged a petition of concern in respect of this motion and that is why we will be opposing it,” Mr Bradley added.