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Last Updated: Friday, 6 October 2006, 13:05 GMT 14:05 UK
Reaction to the disbandment
Leading political figures have been giving their reaction to the disbandment of the home battalions of the RIR.

NORTHERN IRELAND SECRETARY PETER HAIN

"We must never forget those whose lives were taken during that period. We owe them and their loved ones a huge debt of gratitude.

"To everyone who has seen service in its ranks, I thank you for your professionalism, dedication and resilience.

"You have helped to drive Northern Ireland from its darkest days towards a bright, prosperous and, most of all, peaceful future."

COLONEL MARK CAMPBELL, REGIMENTAL COLONEL RIR

Colonel Campbell said 274 serving and ex-members "paid the ultimate sacrifice and many more carry physical and psychological scars".

"Today is deeply significant, it is about bringing an honourable and dignified closure to 36 years of continuous operational service.

"During this time, 60,000 men and women, full-time and part-time, served within the Ulster Defence Regiment and the Royal Irish Homes Service.

"There have been many difficult years, but our job is now done and we march into history with dignity and with heads held high."

STATEMENT FROM THE UUP

"Through the dark years of the Troubles the men and women of the UDR and the RIR Home Service, supported by their families, protected our society from those who sought to impose their will through the ways of terror.

"While the terrorists' legacy is one of destruction, murder and tears, the legacy of the UDR and RIR Home Service is of sacrifice, duty and service, helping to build a Northern Ireland at peace.

"Today our thoughts and prayers will especially be with the families and comrades of the 274 serving and former UDR and RIR Home Service personnel who paid the supreme sacrifice defending our society."

ALASDAIR MCDONNELL, DEPUTY LEADER SDLP

"I met the Queen today because I consider it my duty to meet her as MP for the area just as I consider it the duty of all to afford respect to heads of state including our president, Mary McAleese.''

SINN FEIN COUNCILLOR FRA MCCANN

"Very few nationalists will be sad to see the end of the UDR/RIR. It is an organisation marred by controversy and the clear evidence that members of the UDR were involved in the killing of many Catholics.

"The Belfast city centre tribute to mark the end of this discredited paramilitary force will also be extremely difficult for the many many victims of UDR/RIR violence.

"UDR involvement in the murder of many nationalists has been acknowledged by the British government as has its role as the source for much of the weapons used by loyalist death squads."






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