Northern Ireland news

B-Specials re-enactment event branded 'offensive'

A B-Specials re-enactment event has been branded 'offensive'
Staff reporter

AN event celebrating the B-Specials has been branded "wrong".

The re-enactment in Coleraine, Co Derry as part of Northern Ireland "centenary celebrations" on Saturday was funded by the Ulster Scots Agency and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, although the council said it did not fund the re-enactment itself.

It involved a number of men dressed in B-Special uniform re-enacting a drill routine.

The B-Specials were part of the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC), which was disbanded by the British government in April 1970 after a recommendation in the Hunt report, which was published after serious disorder across the north in August 1969.

A predominantly Protestant force, the B-Specials were feared by the minority Catholic population and involved in numerous controversies, with members remembered for attacking civil rights marchers at Burntollet, Co Derry in 1969.

Veteran civil rights campaigner Eamonn McCann, who was present at Burntollet, was critical of the event.

“No matter what your historical perspective, the idea that the Catholic community in the north can have a shared experience or shared history with the B-Specials is politically and historically ignorant, apart from being offensive,” he told The Irish Times.

Joanne Hunniford, secretary of the Coleraine Festival Committee, told the paper: “I think people are interested in the fact that they did play a part in the history of Northern Ireland, and bringing us to where we are today.

“They had a role to play. Unfortunately, there was a terrorist threat since Northern Ireland was formed. They were trying to keep that threat under control.”

Meanwhile, the Church Leaders’ Group (Ireland) will release a special podcast series on the theme `Identity and Belonging: Past, Present, Future' this week.

The series will kick off today with Cathoilc Archbishop Eamon Martin.

Each church leader will be joined in conversation by a number of special guests.

The series is part of the church leaders' collective engagement with the issues arising from the 1921 centenaries and explore how these events from the past have shaped our present.

The podcasts can be accessed on or by searching for 'Church Leaders Group Ireland'.

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