UTV carries the only substantial coverage of Tim Collins’ contribution to the panel debate on the Royal Irish Regiment yesterday. He argues that the best way forward is to lobby for a second Battalion of the TA Royal Irish Rangers, and to seek a package for soldiers that reflects “not only the long and distinguished service they have given, but also the sacrifice given since their formation in 1970”.
Whilst speaking as an invited guest and not being a party member, his comments were as scathing on the DUP as they were on HMG:
It is crucial that we need to set aside the carping that is the property of the Democratic Unionist party and look towards a positive aspect
David Burnside opened his remarks by drawing attention to the novel properties of his support for party policy; that is retention of at least one Battalion of the Home Service. When such a question was raised during the debate, both Collins and East Belfast UUP Chairman, Colonel Isaac Clark stated their belief that this was not a possibility. Collins restated his assertion that with the success of Operation Banner, the men and women of the Royal Irish Regiment Home Service can “stand down with pride”.
Towards the end of the debate former Councillor Colonel Harvey Bicker requested that the term “RIR” not be used given the abbreviation is officially “R IRISH” and spoken as “Royal Irish”. He requested that referring to the Regiment as the RIR should be left to Jeffrey Donaldson and Gerry Adams.