The Security Forces and the UDA

The obvious unwillingness of the British Government and British Army to deal with loyalist violence and the activities of the UDA in particular is evidenced in numerous documents from 1972.

Security Forces and UDA

One MoD memo from November 1972 titled 'Security Forces and UDA' instructs that operations

'should be directed against their criminal extremist elements whilst making every endeavour to maintain good relations with law abiding citizens in the organisation.'

The RUC apparently had similar instructions. Vigilante type patrols should be tolerated…

Directing Protestant energies

The issue of UDA membership of the UDR, a locally recruited regiment of the British Army, was the subject of various memos and correspondence. On July 31 1972 a letter from HQNI argued that an 

"important (but unspoken) function of the UDR is to  channel into a constructive and disciplined direction Protestant energies that might otherwise become disruptive." 

The UDA murdered at least 20 people in July alone, the same month the letter was written.

In response to a query from the Prime Minister at the Gen 79 meeting in September the Ministry of Defence in November returned to the theme of

"Protestant energies that might otherwise become disruptive."

In a possible Freudian slip this MoD letter however refers to the UDA not UDR !

UDA membership of the UDR

An internal military Staff-in-Confidence memo on UDA membership of the UDR suggests that a 'moderate line' should be taken towards UDA members because of the role of the UDA as a 'safety valve'