21st March: 7.30pm
With author Micheál Smith
In UDR: Declassified, Micheál Smith reveals what the British establishment, the British government and its armed forces knew and had to say about the regiment in recently declassified files.
From its formation in 1970 as a locally raised militia, the Ulster Defence Regiment developed into the largest regiment in the British Army. For unionists , service in the UDR was a noble act and often a family tradition; for nationalists, an encounter with the UDR was frequently hostile, often brutal, and sometimes fatal. To the British army, they were ‘a dangerous species of ally’, and a classic militia regiment which was part of a long tradition of the use of such forces by the British Empire. It was viewed as ‘a safety valve’ for the tempers of loyalist extremism, and it also served as the main source of training, weaponry, and intelligence files for loyalists throughout the conflict.
UDR: Declassified is an evidence-based exposé of the UDR through the declassified files of Number 10, the MoD, and the NIO. The denial of access to history is a part of a continuum of British state efforts to obscure its colonial past. This book is a testimony to the value of defying such efforts and uncovering the truths behind our traumatic past.
Micheál Smith was born in Dublin and studied at UCD before embarking on a career as a diplomat with Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He worked as Irish government observer and a liaison for the families at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry in Derry and London. Micheál moved to Belfast where he retrained as a mental health and disability advocate. Eventually he came to work with the Pat Finucane Centre as an advocate, where he works with victims, survivors, and families bereaved as a result of the conflict on the island of Ireland. He is author, for the Pat Finucane Centre, of The Impact of the Parachute Regiment in Belfast 1970-73.
Organised in association with Merrion Press.