When the setting up of the Regiment was first announced I thought the idea was crazy. Following the 1969 disturbances a British judge recommended the disarming of the regular RUC and the disbanding of the B Specials. I thought the recommendations sensible and that they would make room for reform and constructive politics.
Riots in Belfast’s Shankill Road in September 1969 followed the announcement of the proposal to disarm the the RUC during which Loyalists shot dead a Constable Arbuckle, the first RUC fatality since the IRA in 1962 called off their failed quixotic campaign and apparently intended to renounce armed struggle permanently. The first British Army casualty (in August 1969) was a Belfast Catholic who was home on leave: he died when an RUC armoured Car discharged belt-loads of bullets from a Vickers machine gun on an unarmed community.
The last thing Ireland, or Northeast Ireland needed, was more armed men. I believe now that professionals who had made a career of repression and aggression across half the globe inspired the creation of the UDR. I don’t think there was a White Paper or a considered debate in Parliament about it.