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Anger after B-Specials handed victims' funding

East Derry assembly member John Dallat is concerned that the Ulster Special Constabulary Association has been awarded funding from a victims' group
Connla Young

ALMOST £13,000 has been paid to former members of the ‘B-Specials’ by a victims’ support group even though the controversial police unit was disbanded just months after the Troubles began.

Two branches of the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC) Association recently received the handout from the Victims and Survivors Service (VSS).

The B-Specials were part of the Ulster Special Constabulary which was disbanded by the British government in April 1970.

The controversial police unit suffered no loss of personnel before the Troubles began although some members were killed during previous republican campaigns.

The USC comprised three units known as the A, B and C Specials and was disbanded after a recommendation in the Hunt report, which was published after serious disorder across the north in August 1969.

Many former members of the B-Specials later jointed the RUC Reserve and UDR - which were set up to replace it.

The VSS delivers funding through the Victims Support Programme to organisations that provide services and support to victims and survivors of the Troubles.

A small grant scheme organised by the charity recently allocated more than £9,630 to the USCA North Antrim branch and £3,200 to the association in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

A spokeswoman for the VSS refused to reveal what the cash will be used for.

East Derry assembly member John Dallat said on Sunday night he is concerned that the USCA has received funding.

‘I have to ask myself where this all ends? he said.

"Do we go back to the Black and Tans with money or will common sense prevail and the money intended for people genuinely affected by the Troubles are the beneficiaries of taxpayers’ money."

"How do the relatives of victims feel about sharing money going to an organisation which exists to keep alive the memory of the ‘B’ Specials an organisation which had a dreadful reputation from its inception in 1920.

"Even in the lead-up to the recent troubles they played their part in creating tension at checkpoints set up and focussing only on Catholics even if those Catholics happened to be their next door neighbours."

Almost exclusively Protestant, nationalists viewed the B-Specials as a sectarian paramilitary force and the strong arm of the old Stormont unionist regime.

Set up in 1920, it carried out numerous revenge killings and reprisals around this time and members are believed to have been involved in the McMahon killings in 1922, when six members of a Catholic family were shot dead in north Belfast.

B-Specials are also suspected of involvement in the shooting of several Catholics in 1969 including father-of-three John Gallagher (30) in Armagh after a Civil Rights Association meeting.

Several other security force linked groups have received cash from the VSS including the RUC George Cross Association in Armagh, which received £16,000 and the UDR regimental Association in Enniskillen which was awarded over £19,7000.

Other organisations which offer support to Troubles victims also received awards including WAVE Trauma Centre (£1.5million), Relatives for Justice (almost £500,000) and the Pat Finucane Centre (over £71,000).

A spokeswoman for the VSS said: “The VSS does not comment on applications for funding made by individual organisations.“

The USCA could not be contacted for comment.

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