Northern Ireland news

State papers: Arrest of UDR men in ‘collusion' probe caused furore

Deputy Chief Constable John Stevens
Éamon Phoenix

THE October 1989 arrest of 28 UDR members as part of the Stevens Inquiry into collusion was "disgraceful", a senior army officer told the Secretary of State.

The inquiry had been instigated by RUC Chief Constable Hugh Annesley under Detective Chief Constable John Stevens of the Cambridgeshire Constabulary to investigate collusion between some security forces and loyalists.

The arrests angered the UDR's colonel commander Dennis Faulkner who complained to Secretary of State Peter Brooke about how the arrests had been handled.

Confidential documents now released showed that Colonel Faulkner felt "if there were malefactors in the regiment, they should be vigorously weeded out".

However, he said the arrests, which were carried out on a Sunday, were "little short of disgraceful" and news that 300 police officers had been deployed in the operation was "highly provocative".

He claimed such force was unnecessary and "carried the implication that UDR soldiers were on a par with terrorists". He pointed out that of the 28, only four had been charged and with minor offences.

"People were drawing the conclusion that the operation had been mounted for political reasons to impress Dublin," the files revealed.

Mr Brooke told Colonel Faulkner that Mr Annesley and the Stevens Inquiry had to act as they saw fit "without political input or direction".

"It was certainly not the case that the arrests were designed to have an effect on Anglo-Irish relations," he said.

The file revealed that at a subsequent meeting, Mr Stevens indicated that more serious charges might well follow the arrests. It was also revealed that a special vetting unit had been established by British military headquarters for potential UDR recruits.

In a further note, also dated October 1989, a Northern Ireland Office official reported that Mr Stevens had told senior army officer Major-General Tony Jeapes that his inquiries so far suggested that only a small number of UDR members in a particular brigade had been guilty of offences "but there was no evidence of any central coordination of their activities".

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