We planted a special tree in Lisburn today in honour of the local women who served in the Ulster Defence Regiment and were known by the codeword, ‘Greenfinches’.
The UDR was set up as a men-only regiment, but women were allowed to join its ranks in 1973. To mark that 50th anniversary, we agreed a Japanese Maple would be planted in Lisburn’s Castle Gardens, following a special thanksgiving service which was held in the city in November 2023.
The Mayor, Councillor Andrew Gowan performed the tree-planting ceremony and was accompanied by the council’s veterans’ champion, Alderman James Tinsley and Diane Watson (Greenfinches).
Councillor Gowan said: “The Greenfinches played a critical role in the UDR and put their lives on the line to serve and protect against the evils of terrorism. As we know, four Greenfinches paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Troubles between 1974 and 1984.
“We are indebted to them all for their service and sacrifice. They leave behind a legacy that will be difficult for anyone to follow.”
Alderman James Tinsley said: “It is an honour to mark the 50th anniversary of the Greenfinches with a living memorial which will grow tall in the years to come and be visible to anyone who visits Castle Gardens. I am told it will be 20 feet when mature and have striking red-purple leaves during the Spring and Summer.
“We trust this beautiful Maple is a fitting tribute to all the Greenfinches who served so faithfully and particularly for those who call Lisburn and Castlereagh home.”
Diane Watson, who served as a Greenfinch from 1978 to 1987, said: “I’m honoured that Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council has planted this tree in one of its most beautiful parks at the heart of the City in honour of the Greenfinches’ service. This tree serves as a lasting tribute and will leave a real legacy to the organisation allowing the spirt of the Greenfinches to ‘live on’.