Wars are always bad, and the people who fight them are too, usually. They have to be to survive. So any glamorization of one side as heroic freedom fighters and the other as The Evil is nearly always a simplification for children and elderly men with a drink problem. Anyone who has studied the troubles in Spain’s Basque Country knows this well. In the British Isles, no one knew it better than Chris Ryder, a veteran reporter on the Northern Ireland beat, with both sides in his contacts book, and a healthy scepticism for the claims of each.
Ryder was correspondent for both Sunday Times and then Telegraph. Because of his reporting, the Provisionals soon planned to kill him, but were dissuaded because of the PR damage it would inflict upon their cause. His admiration for the courage of the security forces was manifest, but:
…… Ryder did not shy away from the controversies that dogged the regiment. He faced full-on the issue of secret dual membership of the UDR with loyalist paramilitaries and the regiment’s reputation as a sectarian force among the nationalist population, arguing that the UDR would have to be disbanded as part of necessary reforms to the security system.
Courage indeed to attack your own side, especially given the insane passions of the time.
Off duty he was a generous man, husband and bon viveur. We link his full Guardian obituary below, from which our quote is taken. What could intelligent people like him achieve in peace, if they lived in a place where their neighbours had not descended into a sociopathic and futile conflict, like all the others?
we thank Mr Lindsay Charlton of Kent for this story
#northernireland #ira #uda #udr #thetroubles #journalism #chrisryder