Thatcher and the UVF
As Margaret Thatcher is laid to rest we thought it appropriate to publish two documents we found in the British National Archives. Both have been published before in the chapter we contributed on loyalist infiltration of the UDR.
Minutes of the 1975 meeting
The first document contains the minutes of a meeting between the then head of the Conservative opposition in 1975 (Margaret Thatcher) and the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, just weeks after the Miami Showband Massacre involving members of the UDR. At page 3 the following fascinating admission is made,
the Secretary of State said….
"Unfortunately there were certain elements in the police who were very close to the UVF, and who were prepared to hand over information, for example, to Mr Paisley. The Army’s judgement was that the UDR was heavily infiltrated by extremist Protestants, and that in a crisis situation they could not be relied on to be loyal."
Let no-one claim that the levels of collusion between the RUC, UDR and loyalist paramilitaries was not known at the highest levels of the British Government and opposition.
UVF and UDR
The second document also concerns the UVF only by this stage, 1979, Thatcher is the Prime Minister. In a hand written note she urged mention of the ‘Volunteer Ulster Defence Regiment (? Is that the name)’. Her officials clearly had difficulty reading her handwriting and the typed version of her comment reads.
(viii) The Prime Minister would also like to see some reference to the valiant work being carried by the Ulster Volunteer Force.
Apparently neither she not her officials were fully cognisant of the difference between the UDR, (? Is that the name) the largest Regiment in the British army, and the UVF, a loyalist paramilitary group. On this point at least she found herself in agreement with the nationalist/ republican community.