The Final Years

 

Formation

Early Days

Changing Times

Final Period

The SDLP throughout the history of The UDR had been keen to have the regiment disbanded, their campaign was stepped up despite the fact that The Ulster Defence Regiment had as part of it's normal patrolling duties around Markethill had protected the home of Seamus Mallon (SDLP's deputy leader). With the signing of the Anglo- Irish agreement in 1985 the Eire government in conjunction with the SDLP & Sinn Fein tried harder to complete their aim to have the regiment disbanded, taking every opportunity to complain about any action or wrong doing by member's of The UDR. This had a 2 fold effect on the regiment, firstly recruitment slowed and secondly morale within the existing members fell.


March 1986 saw Armagh man Adrain Carroll murdered in the city, a total of 15 UDR were arrested in connection with the murder but only 6 men were ever brought to trial. 4 of them received life sentences for the murder and they became known as The UDR 4.

Manning again became a problem for the regiment, this time it was getting enough officers, by 1987 there was only about 20 full time officers under the age of 45 years old in The UDR out of a total of 94 and a major recruiting campaign was launched. By 1988 the Commander of The UDR, Brig. Michael Bray, realised that no matter what attempts he made to get the SDLP to support The Ulster Defence Regiment it wasn't going to work, so he employed a new tactic. Brigadier Bray encouraged UDR battalions to have Open days or nights, in which members of the public were invited into the camps the see how the regiment was run, with the aim of getting people, especially Catholics interested and in turn he hoped that new recruits could be obtained.

Charity was also another thing The UDR could use to highlight community awareness and despite operational commitments this is exactly what happened, in 1988 7/10 UDR raised £15,000 alone for charity and in 1989 a total of £56,700 was raised for various charities by The UDR, with the money going to projects on both sides of the religious divide.

1991 was a bad year for 2 UDR, it's HQ was based in Armagh with a number of other camps around the county, in March a mobile patrol was attacked on the Killylea Road with 2 members of the patrol being murdered and a number of other injured. In May of the same year The UDR base in Glenanne, County Armagh was destroyed by the largest vehicle device recorded at that time resulting in 3 members of the company losing their lives and others also being injured, the device had been driven from South Armagh in a lorry before the IRA men dismounted from the vehicle allowing it to roll down the hill into the perimeter fence of the base. By the end of the year 2 UDR & 11 UDR had amalgamated as had 4 & 6 UDR.

The Ulster Defence Regiment was presented with it's Colours by Her Majesty the Queen in 1991 and on July 23, 1991 Tom King announced to the Commons that as part of the restructuring of the armed forces that plans had been agreed to merge The UDR with the Royal Irish Rangers. On the 1 July, 1992 the merger of the regiments was official complete and the new regiment was to become as the Royal Irish Regiment.

 

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