“We support all Ulster’s soldiers.” The UDA and the UDR brought under the same umbrella of “Ulster’s defenders” in Charles Drive, Ballyclare. The UDR was established in 1970 to relieve the RUC and B Specials of military operations and was disbanded in 1992, in part because it was only 3% Catholic and 5-15% of members had links to loyalist paramilitaries (Irish News).
“Better to die on your feet, than to live on your knees in an Irish Republic.” The Ulster Special Constabulary was originally divided into three categories A, B, and C but after the 1922 only the B Specials remained as a reserve force for the RUC. The USC was disbanded in 1970 after its controversial behaviour in the riots of 1969, on some occasions failing to protect Catholics and in a few cases joining in with loyalists. It was replaced by the UDR (as a reserve military force), which lasted until 1992 – it was amalgamated with the Royal Irish Rangers to become the Royal Irish Regiment. In Carnany estate, Ballymoney.
Between its construction in 1841 and decommissioning in 2003, Ebrington Barracks served as a home to many military units, including those whose emblems are at the bottom of the mural above (from left to right): the Royal Irish Rifles, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Royal Irish Rangers, UDR, and the Royal Irish Regiment.
HMS Ferret and HMS Sea Eagle are not in fact ships but a part of Ebrington barracks given to the navy to serve as a “stone frigate” during (Ferret) and after (Sea Eagle) WWII. HMS Londonderry was an anti-submarine frigate but does not appear to have a particular connection to Ebrington (please comment if you know otherwise).
The Northern Ireland General Service medal – in the middle of the mural – was awarded to any soldier who served at least 30 days during Operation Banner, the deployment of British troops in Northern Ireland from 1969 onwards.
Here is a final board from the memorial installation to UDR Privates Starrett and Cummings in Thorndyke Street, showing soldiers searching for arms near some outbuildings. For information on Starrett and Cummings, see Ulsters Defenders Of The Realm (also Stop – Check Point).
Here is a third panel from a new UDR wall in east Belfast, a collage of UDR activities (on the streets, on base, manning check-points, in boats, helicopters, with dogs) with a few pieces of republican signs as backdrop (Free Derry Corner, “Provies rule”, “Such is British justice – remember 9th August”)
Privates Fred Starrett and James Cummings died in an IRA bombing on Belfast’s Royal Avenue on February 24th, 1988. Both Orangemen, their deaths are commemorated every year by a parade from east Belfast to the city centre. Shown in today’s post are two panels (of four) from a new UDR commemorative wall in east Belfast.