Glen Barr’s ‘desire to help working class’ motivated him, funeral told

Former UDA leader ‘did what he did because he believed it was the right thing to do’

Former Ulster Defence Association (UDA) leader Glen Barr's "desire to help the working class" had "motivated him into the political realm", his funeral in Derry was told on Friday

Among the mourners were Jackie McDonald, believed to be the “brigadier” of the loyalist paramilitary group in South Belfast.

Mr Barr, who died earlier this week aged 75, was one of the leaders of the 1974 Ulster Workers Council strike which led to the collapse of the Sunningdale power-sharing executive.

He later became involved in community and peace and reconciliation work, and founded the Island of Ireland Peace Park at Messines in Belgium along with the former Fine Gael TD Paddy Harte snr.

Mr Harte’s son, Paddy Harte Jnr, attended the funeral, as did the former vice-chair of the North’s Policing Board, Denis Bradley, and William McCarter, the former chairman of the International Fund for Ireland.

The East Londonderry MP, Gregory Campbell, was also among the mourners, as were a number of Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillors and party workers.

There was a low-key police presence outside Ebrington Presbyterian church in the Waterside area of Derry as the coffin was brought into the church.

During the Service of Thanksgiving the minister, the Rev Paul Linkens, said that Mr Barr’s “desire to help and represent the working class motivated Glen into the political realm.”

Rev Linkens said that, as a trade unionist, Mr Barr found “he was able to make a real difference to people’s lives as he sought to help the men with challenges and difficulties they faced.”

“He saw the working-class Unionist voice being ignored and sought with his energy and determination to address the inequality,” Rev Linkens said.

A member of the Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party in the 1970s, Mr Barr was elected to the Northern Assembly in 1973 and the Northern Ireland Convention of 1976.

“As Glen reflected on at the situation in Northern Ireland during the 70s he saw the ‘no-win’scenario that existed,” Rev. Linkens told mourners.

“He was inspired by the American Constitution that had been carefully crafted ensure majority rule but with minority rights.

“E pluribus unum — Out of many, one – and in many ways Glen set about trying to bring two distinct people together.”

Rev Linkens quoted a speech made by the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, in 2004, after the restructuring of the Peace Park.

“Mr Ahern said that all those untold human stories that we lost in the first World War and more recently in the conflict in Northern Ireland, must be remembered.

“And, in remembering, they must not be told for nothing. They must not be told to deepen divisions. They must be told to inspire us to overcome them.

“Glen played his part in working for that aim and he leaves a legacy that should inspire others.

“Glen did what he did because he believed it was the right thing to do,” he said.

Mr Barr was laid to rest in Altnagelvin cemetery in Derry following the service.