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18 May 2006 Edition

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Unionist politician at centre of collusion allegations

Political unionism's relationship with violence has been further highlighted after secret British government documents revealed the ease with which a unionist politician in the early 1970's, with dual membership in a loyalist paramilitary group and the UDR, moved into the ranks of the RUC.

A 1973 British Military Intelligence document, entitled Subversion in the UDR, claimed that up to 15% of UDR soldiers were also members of the UVF or UDA and that the regiment was the "best single source" of weaponry for the death squads.

One of a series of separate reports identifies a serving UDR soldier who was also a unionist politician, deputy chairperson of Ballymena district council and the so-called Commanding Officer of the UDA in the town. According to the document the UDR soldier had passed ammunition and was suspected of supplying guns to the UDA.

The former soldier referred to in the document was identified by the Irish News as Clifford Davison. In an interview Davison admitted he had been acting as "officer commanding of the Ballymena UDA" at the same time as he held office as deputy mayor in Ballymena council as well as holding the rank of lance corporal in the UDR.

Davison told the media that his UDR commanders were aware of his UDA links. He left the UDR after serving a year and then went onto join the RUC.

Although Davison now says he believes his profile in the 'Subversion' document led to him being asked to leave the UDR, he was never questioned about the allegation of supplying weaponry to the UDA, which he denies. A few months later Davison joined the RUC where he served as a reserve for five years.

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