The Ulster Defence Regiment Act 1969.

Thursday, 18 December, 1969

On 12 November 1969, the Minister of Defence for Administration (Mr Roy Hattersley) made a statement to the House of Commons in which he said:

'The Hunt Committee recommended that the Royal Ulster Constabulary should be relieved of all military duties and that the Ulster Special Constabulary should be replaced by two separate forces - one a police reserve, the other a military force to assist the regular Armed Forces.

The nature of the new military force will be governed by its operational task. That task will be to meet what the Hunt Committee called "armed guerilla-type attacks". This calls for a force to guard key points and installations, to carry out patrols and to establish check points and road blocks.

This force will be an integral part of the Army. It will be controlled by the Secretary of State for Defence, and will be under the command of the General Officer Commanding, Northern Ireland. Its immediate commanding officer will be a brigadier of the regular Army. The regular Army will also supply administrative and training staff.

The size of the force will be determined in the light of experience as the build-up proceeds, but will not ultimately exceed 6,000 officers and men. Of necessity, the new force will draw substantially on the Ulster Special Constabulary for its initial recruitment, but there will be a campaign to enrol recruits from all sections of the Northern Ireland community. Apart from the formal qualifications of age, residence and nationality the sole criterion for acceptance will be suitability for service in a military force. There will be a strict security vetting.

The force will be called the Ulster Defence Regiment'.

A Bill was presented to the House of Commons that same day by the Secretary of State for Defence (Denis Healey) and, after many long debates in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the Bill was passed and, receiving Royal Assent on 18 December 1969, became the Ulster Defence Regiment Act 1969.