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Violence - Loyalist and Republican Paramilitary Groups

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Page Compiled: Martin Melaugh
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Loyalist and Republican Paramilitary Groups

The first two tables below provide information on the current position of the main Loyalist and Republican paramilitary groups towards the Good Friday Agreement and details of their ceasefire status. The groups mentioned in these tables are the main ones which are active, or have been active over the past few years. The third table provides a chronology and links to further information on all the main paramilitary groups that have been active since the mid 1960s. There are explanatory notes at the end of each table.
(See also: Information on Estimates of the Strength of Paramilitary Groups.)

Ceasefire Status of Existing Loyalist Paramilitary Groups

details UDA =uff UVF =rhc LVF RHD =OV =uda = uvf
Status of Organisation moribund moribund moribund moribund
'On Ceasefire' or 'Active' ceasefire 13/10/94
renewed 23/1/98
specified 12/10/01
renewed 22/2/03
despecified 12/11/04
stood down 11/11/07
ceasefire 13/10/94
specified 12/10/01
specified 14/9/05
renounced violence 04/04/07
despecified 14/05/08
ceasefire 13/10/94
specified 12/10/01
'stood down' 30/10/05
Good Friday Agreement Initially for Initially for Against Against
Decommissioned (disarmed) arms put beyond use 11/11/07
decommissioned 6/01/10
arms put "beyond reach" 3/05/07
decommissioned 27/06/09
small amount destroyed No

The Red Hand Defenders (RHD), and the Orange Volunteers (OV), claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against Catholics in the years following the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Many of these attacks involved the use of 'pipe-bombs'. The three Loyalist paramilitary groups that were supposed to be on ceasefire, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), and the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), have also engaged in violence between 1998 and 2006. During the summer of 2001 there was evidence that elements within the UDA / Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), and LVF, were carrying out attacks but using the RHD, and OV, as a covername. On 12 September 2001 all three groups were "specified" by the British government, which meant that the government considered their ceasefires to be at an end. On 22 February 2003 the UDA declared a 12 month period of "military inactivity" (ceasefire). On 30 October 2005 the LVF announced that it had instructed its 'military units' to stand down. The UVF declared that it was renouncing violence and would cease to exist as a paramilitary organisation from midnight on 3 May 2007. On Sunday 11 November 2007 the UDA issued a statement in which it was announced that: "all active service units of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) will as from 12pm tonight stand down will all military intelligence destroyed and as a consequence of this all weaponry will be put beyond use".
The UVF also said it would keep its weapons, but had put them "beyond reach". On 27 June 2009 the UVF (and RHC) issued a statement that it had engaged with the IICD to decommission weapons. In the statement the UVF said it had "completed the process of rendering ordnance totally, and irreversibly, beyond use". There were media reports at the same time that the UDA had begun to decommission its weapons.
On 6 January 2010 the UDA announced that it had decommissioned its weapons.

UDA =uff Ulster Defence Association = Ulster Freedom Fighters
UVF =rhc Ulster Volunteer Force = Red Hand Commando
LVF Loyalist Volunteer Force
RHD =OV =uda = uvf =lvf Red Hand Defenders =Orange Volunteers =uda =uvf =lvf

Ceasefire Status of Existing Republican Paramilitary Groups

details IRA CIRA "r"IRA INLA
Status of Organisation moribund intact intact moribund
'On Ceasefire' or 'Active' ceasefire 31/08/94
renewed 20/07/97
ended armed campaign
28 July 2005
Active Active ceasefire 22/8/98
ended armed stuggle 11/10/09
Good Friday Agreement For Against Against Against
Decommissioned (disarmed) 4 acts of decommissioning
23 October 2001
8 April 2002
21 October 2003
final act
26 September 2005
No No decommissioed
8 February 2010

The "real" Irish Republican Army (rIRA) and the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) claimed responsibility for attacks against the security forces in Northern Ireland, and bombs in England, in the years after the Good Friday Agreement. During the same period the Irish Republican Army (IRA) which was supposed to have been on ceasefire was believed to have been responsible for the killing of a number of Catholics. On Thursday 28 July 2005 the leadership of the IRA issued a statement which formally ordered an end to its armed campaign and instructed all IRA units to dump arms. On Monday 26 September 2005 it was announced by the IICD that the IRA had decommissioned all its weapons. On Sunday 11 October 2009 the INLA issued a statement announcing that its "armed stuggle is over", the group released a statement on 8 February 2010 on the issue of weapsons held by the INLA.

IRA (Provisional) Irish Republican Army
CIRA Continuity Irish Republican Army
"r"IRA "real" Irish Republican Army
INLA Irish National Liberation Army

Chronology and Relationship of Loyalist and Republican Paramilitary Groups


Loyalist Paramilitary Groups

Republican Paramilitary Groups

1919         IRA
Irish Republican Army
1966   UVF
Ulster Volunteer Force
1967     UPV
Ulster Protestant Volunteers
1970   YCV =uvf
Young Citizens' Volunteers
  PIRA /ira
Provisional Irish Republican Army
OIRA /ira
Official Irish Republican Army
1971 UDA
Ulster Defence Association
1972   RHC =uvf
Red Hand Commando
(1972-73) Vanguard Service Corps

Orange Volunteers
1973 UFF =uda
Ulster Freedom Fighters
1974   YM =uda
Young Militants

PAF =uvf
Protestant Action Force

Protestant Action Group
LDF (1974)
Loyalist Defence Volunteers
1975           INLA /oira
Irish National Liberation Army
1976           IPLO /inla
Irish People's Liberation Army
1996   LVF /uvf
Loyalist Volunteer Force
  CIRA /ira
Continuity IRA
1997       "r"IRA /ira
"real" IRA
1998     RHD =ov =UDA
Red Hand Defenders

Orange Volunteers
2006       ONH /cira
Óglaigh na hÉireann

1. Futher information on individual parmilitary groups can be obtained by following the blue links in the tables (the appropriate entry will appear at the top of the page; use the 'back' button to return to this page).
2. The tables do not include various umbrella organsiations for example the CLMC (Combined Loyalist Military Command)
3. Any groups which appear in italics are believed to be cover names used by the organisations named alongside them. For example, 'UFF =uda' indicates that the Ulster Freedom Fighters was a cover name used by the Ulster Defence Association.
4. Some groups were formed when they split from an earlier organisation. These are indicated by, for example, 'CIRA /ira', which records the fact that the Continuity IRA was established by (mainly) former members of the IRA.
5. Dates: (1969-present) = in existence from 1969 to the present day; (1974) = appeared and disappeared in same year; (1967-?) = began in 1967 but date when ceased to exist unknown.


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