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Compiled: Martin Melaugh ... Additional Material: Brendan Lynn and Fionnuala McKenna
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change

initial letter of the name of the organisation

Ulster Army Council (UAC)
An umbrella group of Loyalist paramilitaries which was set up in 1973. The UAC was headed by Andy Tyrie who at the time was commander of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). The UAC covered the following groups: UDA, Orange Volunteers, Down Orange Welfare, Ulster Special Constabulary Association, Ulster Volunteer Service Corps, and Red Hand Commandos. The main aim of the UAC was to set up a Loyalist army of 20,000 men to take control of Northern Ireland if needed. The UAC was replaced by the Ulster Loyalist Central Co-ordinating Committee (ULCCC) after the Loyalist strike in 1974.

Ulster Citizen Army (UCA)
A name which appeared in 1973 and was associated with three members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) who wanted to make the association more left-wing.

Ulster Citizen's Civil Liberties Centre (UCCLC)
An Ulster Defence Association (UDA) sponsored group which was set up in 1974 (?). Leading members included Sammy Smyth and Harry Chicken. The group published its version of a Bill of Rights in 1975.

Ulster Clubs
Initially this organisation was established in the autumn of 1985 as a means of opposing attempts to re-route loyalist parades away from Nationalist areas. With the signing of the Anglo-Irish-Agreement (AIA) in November 1985 Ulster Clubs attempted to expand its role as an umbrella body to co-ordinate the unionist campaign against the AIA. Although it claimed it intended to stick to constitutional means its alleged close links with loyalist paramilitaries alarmed many and as a result people began to distance themselves from the organisation. By the early 1990s the movement had gone into terminal decline.

Ulster Community Action Group (UCAG)
An Ulster Defence Association (UDA) sponsored group established in early 1970s. The group dealt with social and community work and initially was based in east Belfast.

Ulster Constitution Defence Committee (UCDC)
The UCDC was established in 1966 and was made up of a committee of 13 with Ian Paisley as the head of the committee. The UCDC was the means by which Paisley led the protest against the reforms of Terence O'Neill in the late 1960s. The UCDC was also the ruling body of the Loyalist paramilitary style grouping the Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV).
(see also: Ulster Protestant Volunteers; UPV)

Ulster Constitution Party (UCP)
The Ulster Constitution Party (UCP) was formed in the early 1970s. The party published a periodical journal entitled 'The Ulster Constitution', editions of which appeared in 1972. The secretary of the UCP was Belfast City Councillor David M. Riddelsdell and another member was Councillor Robert Lindsay Mason. The party had no success at elections in the early 1970s and Mason later became one of the National Front (NF; a British Fascist party) representatives in Northern Ireland.

Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
synonyms: Ulster Freedom Fighters
The UDA was the largest Loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland. It was formed in September 1971 from a number of Loyalist vigilante groups many of which were called 'defence associations'; one such group was the Shankill Defence Association. The UDA's first leader was Charles Smith. Members of the UDA have, since 1973, used the cover name of Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) to claim the responsibility for the killing of Catholics. Despite the well known link between the two groups the UDA was only proscribed (declared illegal) on 10 August 1992. The UDA attracted many thousands of members (at its peak the estimated membership was 40,000) and very quickly became a formidable force particularly in Belfast. The UDA had a policy of excluding Members of Parliament (MPs) and clergymen from its membership and sought to retain its working-class credentials.

During the protests against the imposition of direct rule from Westminster the UDA campaigned with Ulster Vanguard and the Loyalist Association of Workers (LAW). The UDA arranged massive displays of strength on the streets of Belfast during the summer of 1972, when thousands of 'uniformed' members marched through the city centre. One of the biggest 'stand-offs' between the UDA and the British Army at this time took place on 3 July 1972 in Belfast, when 8,000 UDA members confronted 250 troops. However, it was during the May 1974 Ulster Workers' Council strike that the UDA carried out its biggest operation. It was the UDA, through the use of road blocks, which brought large sections of Northern Ireland to a stand-still. From 1973 the UFF was responsible for scores of shootings and bombing attacks. In 1977 the UDA supported the United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) strike, but it did not support Ian Paisley's 'Day of Action' nor his 'Third Force' in 1981.

In 1978 the UDA sponsored the New Ulster Political Research Group (NUPRG) a political think-tank. In March 1979 the NUPRG issued a proposal for an independent Northern Ireland. In June 1981 the Ulster Loyalist Democratic Party (ULDP) was established to replace the NUPRG. The ULDP advocated independence for Northern Ireland within the British Commonwealth and the European Community. The UDA opposed the Anglo-Irish Agreement but was not in favour of a national strike over the issue. In January 1987 the UDA published the document Common Sense which set out plans for a future political settlement. The document did receive favourable responses from the British government, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).

In December 1987 John McMichael, then deputy leader of the UDA, was killed in a bomb attack carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). However, it was alleged that McMichael had been set up by fellow members of the UDA. Early in 1988 Andy Tyrie was removed as leader of the UDA and control passed to an 'inner council' of six members. During 1988 large quantities of arms were secured by the UDA some of which came from South Africa. In October 1988 both the UDA and the UFF were included in the direct broadcasting ban. In 1989 the ULDP changed its name to Ulster Democratic Party (UDP). During the Stevens inquiry it became apparent that the UDA had access to a large number of security files on Republicans and suspected members of Republican paramilitary groups. During the 1990s the UFF stepped up its attacks on Catholics and Republicans. It also attacked SDLP politicians and councillors. There were a number of multiple killings including: five Catholics on 5 February 1992 in Belfast; three Catholics on 14 November 1992; six Catholics during 48 hours in March 1993; and six Catholics and one Protestant on 30 October 1993.

The UDA and the UFF joined with other Loyalist paramilitary groups in calling a ceasefire on 13 October 1994 in response to the earlier IRA ceasefire. The UDP earned a place at the multi-party talks following the Forum election in May 1996. The UFF (and the UDA) broke their ceasefire during December 1997 and January 1998 and this resulted in the UDP being expelled from the talks. The UDP were readmitted to the talks when the UFF announced a renewed ceasefire on 23 January 1998. Although the paramilitary organisation had resevations about the Good Friday Agreement they initially backed the UDP in its support for the Agreement. The UDP failed to win a seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly election on 25 June 1998.

Between August and December 2000 an element of the UDA ('C' company led by Johnny Adair) engaged in a feud with the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF); Adair was returned to prison. In addition to the feud there were also continuing attacks on Catholics across Northern Ireland and on 12 October 2001 the UDA / UFF, the UVF, and the LVF, were 'specified'; meaning that the British government considered their ceasefires to be at an end. On 28 November 2001 it was announced that the UDP had been dissolved; it was reported that that the reason for the move was that most UDA members no longer supported the Good Friday Agreement. An internal UDA feud between Johnny Adair and other UDA 'commanders' led to killings between September 2002 and February 2003. Adair was returned to prison once more (10 January 2003) and his supporters, and family, were forced to flee the lower Shankill area of Belfast. On 22 February 2003 the UDA declared a 12 month period of "military inactivity" (ceasefire).

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". (See full statement.)

At the time that the UVF announced that it had completed the decommissioning of its weapons - on 27 June 2009 - the media reported that the UDA had begun to decommission some of its weapons.

On 6 January 2010 the UDA announced that it had decommissioned its weapons.

Membership: At its peak in the mid-1970s, the UDA could organise 30,000 members on the streets of Belfast. In 2007 its current strength was probably several hundred with a few dozen being 'active' in the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) a covername used by the UDA.
Arsenal: 200 AK-47 rifles, Uzi machineguns, and machine pistols (also home-made submachine guns, perhaps hundreds); 200 handguns; an unknown amount of Powergel (commercial plastic explosive) which was probably obtained some time in 1994;

Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR)
The UDR was a locally recruited regiment of the British Army and became operational on 1 April 1970. The UDR was merged with the Royal Irish Rangers in July 1992. The UDR was founded following recommendations in the Hunt Report which recommended the replacing of the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC; or 'B-Specials') with a regiment attached to the British Army. However, many of the members of the new regiment were former 'B-Specials' and while the UDR did initially attract Catholic membership of 18 per cent this figure soon fell. At the time of its merger the UDR had an almost exclusively Protestant membership with only 3 per cent Catholics. During its existence there were many allegations of links with Loyalist paramilitary groups and a number of UDR soldiers were convicted of the murder of Catholics and other crimes. Following the Stevens inquiry into collusion between the security forces and Loyalist paramilitary groups, 10 members of the UDR were charged with having information likely to be of use to terrorists. During its existence the UDR lost 197 serving members and 47 former members who where killed mainly by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The UDR killed 2 members of the IRA and 6 Catholic civilians.

Ulster Democratic Party (UDP)
synonyms: Ulster Loyalist Democratic Party (ULDP)
The UDP was formed in 1989 from the ULDP which had been set up by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) in 1981. The first chairman of the ULDP was John McMichael who was killed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on 22 December 1987. The ULDP had no real success in elections. The UDP sought to present itself as a distinct and separate organisation from the UDA, much in the same fashion as Sinn Féin (SF) sees its relationship with the IRA. The UDP did however say that it provided political advice to the UDA. In the 1996 Forum Elections in Northern Ireland the UDP polled 2.2 per cent of the vote. The last leader of the UDP was Gary McMichael (son of John McMichael). The UDP was dissolved on Wednesday 28 November 2001.
[Web Site]

Ulster Democratic Unionist Party (UDUP)
synonyms: Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)
(See: Democratic Unionist Party; DUP.)

Ulster Dominion Group (UDG)
synonyms: British Ulster Dominion Party (BUDP)
(See: British Ulster Dominion Party; BUDP.)

Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
synonyms: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
The UFF is a cover-name used by the UDA and as such the UFF could draw on the support of one of the largest Loyalist paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland.
(See: Ulster Defence Association; UDA.)

Ulster Independence Association (UIA)
A group that was active in 1979 and which was calling for an independent sovereign Northern Ireland as an solution to the constitutional question. The chairman at the time was George Allport and a deputy leader was John McKeague a Loyalist from east Belfast.

Ulster Independence Committee (UIC)
The UIC was formed in 1988 and the leader at that time was Hugh Ross a Presbyterian minister. The UIC called for an independent Northern Ireland free from the "tyrannical and arbitrary rule of the London / Dublin coalition".

Ulster Independence Movement (UIM)
The Ulster Independence Movement (UIM) developed out of the Ulster Independence Committee (UIC) in 1994 as a formal political party. Its leader, Hugh Ross a Presbyterian minister, contested the 1994 European Election where he gained 7,858 first preference votes and saved his deposit. However, the UIM's voting share dropped with the emergence of the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) and the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) in the 1996 Forum election. The UIM took part in the 'No' campaign in the 1998 referendum on the Good Friday Agreement arguing that its arrangements institutionalised sectarianism. Only two candidates contested seats in the 1998 Assembly elections. In Janaury 2000 the UIM disbanded itself as a political party and reconsituted itself as a 'ginger group'.
[Web Site]

Ulster Independence Party (UIP)
The UIP was launched in October 1977 with the aim of achieving a "free and independent Ulster". The establishment of the party followed the publication in May 1976 by the Ulster Independence movement of a document entitled Towards an Independent Ulster. This document claimed that an independent Northern Ireland would be an economically feasible political unit.

Ulster Liberal Party (ULP)
synonyms: Unionist Liberal Party ? (ULP)
A small political party which had little electoral success. The ULP was closely linked with the then British Liberal Party and first put forward candidates in the Assembly election of 1973. It acted as a pressure group at a number of British Liberal assemblies in the later 1970s. The party last nominated candidates in the 1985 local government elections.

Ulster Loyalist Association (ULA)
A Loyalist pressure group which was active in the early 1970s. William Craig was president of ULA and Martin Smyth was also a leading member. The group pressed for increased law and order. Many of the members of the ULA were also members of the Orange Order.

Ulster Loyalist Central Co-ordinating Committee (ULCCC)
synonyms: the Co-ordinating Committee
The ULCCC was set up after the 1974 Loyalist strike. The ULCCC consisted of representatives of the main Loyalist paramilitary groups and the Ulster Workers Council and political representatives. The ULCCC replaced the Ulster Army Council (UAC). The ULCCC at the time represented the main link between Unionist politicians and Loyalist paramilitary groups. The non-voting chairman and main spokesman was Glen Barr. The ULCCC met on a weekly basis at Vanguard headquarters in Belfast. The ULCCC became active again in 1991. At that time its spokes man was Ray Smallwoods.

Ulster Loyalist Democratic Party (ULDP)
synonyms: Ulster Democratic Party (UDP)
(See: Ulster Democratic Party, UDP.)

Ulster Loyalist Front (ULF)
The ULF was a political party founded in 1973 by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The ULF was linked with the National Front (NF; a British Fascist party) in England and in fact there was some talk of the two groups merging.

Ulster Popular Unionist Party (UPUP)
synonyms: Ulster Progressive Unionist Party (UPUP)
The UPUP was formed in January 1980 by James Kilfedder who had been an Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament (MP). Kilfedder had left the UUP following disagreements on party policy. The party had some success in the early 1980s but quickly reverted to a single candidate party. Kilfedder won the North Down constituency in 1983 and remained as sitting MP until his death on 20 March 1995. The UPUP is now defunct.

Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV)
A Loyalist paramilitary style grouping which was established in the late 1960s. The UPV had close links with the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee (UCDC) which was established by Ian Paisley in 1966. The UPV took part in most of the counter demonstrations organised by Paisley against the Civil Rights marches of the late 1960s. The motto of the UPV was, 'For God and Ulster'.
(See also: Ulster Constitution Defence Committee; UCDC.)

Ulster Resistance (UR)
A Loyalist paramilitary style organisation which was formed on 10 November 1986 by Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Peter Robinson of the DUP, and Ivan Foster. The initial aim of Ulster Resistance was to bring an end to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Following a rally in the Ulster Hall in Belfast, other rallies were held in towns across Northern Ireland. The group was organised in nine 'battalions' and members wore a red beret. In November 1988 there was an arms find in County Armagh and the subsequent arrest of a former DUP election candidate brought accusations of links between DUP politicians and armed paramilitary groups. The DUP claimed that party links with the organisation had ended in 1987. Two members of Ulster Resistance were arrested in April 1987 in Paris along with a South African diplomat. It was claimed that there had been an attempt to exchange information on Shorts' missile technology for weapons. In the late 1980s some former members of Ulster Resistance joined another grouping called Resistance.

Ulster Service Corps (USC)
A Loyalist paramilitary / vigilante group established in 1976. The USC had links with the United Unionist Action Council (UUAC). The group had many ex-members of the Ulster Special Constabulary ('B-Specials') in its ranks. The USC carried out overt and covert patrols, some armed with legal weapons, in rural areas of Northern Ireland. In September 1976 five Portadown USC members were arrested and charged with operating illegal roadblocks; the five men appeared in court on 19 April 1977. In November 1976 Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), while speaking in the House of Commons stated that he had been on patrol with the USC (Moloney and Pollak, 1986; p.368). The USC was involved with the UUAC strike between 3 and 13 May 1977 and helped to organise road blocks. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) claimed that there was collusion between the USC and the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) in some rural areas of Northern Ireland.

Ulster Special Constabulary (USC)
synonyms: Specials; 'A-Specials'; 'B-Specials'; 'C-Specials'
The USC, or 'Specials', were originally formed in 1920 by the British Administration in Ireland. The force was an auxiliary (official) paramilitary force made up of three units, 'A', 'B', and 'C'. The 'A-Specials' were full-time and were housed in barracks, the 'B-Specials' were part-time and were used on patrols and check-points, and the 'C-Specials' did not perform any regular duties but held arms and could be mobilised in the case of an emergency. The 'A' and 'C' Specials were disbanded in 1925 but the 'B-Specials' were retained and were used during Irish Republican Army (IRA) campaigns in Northern Ireland. The 'B-Specials' were an entirely Protestant force and were viewed with distrust and fear by Catholics in Northern Ireland. In 1969 the 'B-Specials' were deployed in a number of areas. The 'B-Special's were responsible for shooting dead a Catholic civilian on 14 August 1969. The Hunt Report recommended the replacement of the 'B-Specials' with a locally recruited regiment of the British Army and the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) became operational on 1 April 1970. Many former members of the 'B-Specials' joined the UDR.

Ulster Special Constabulary Association. (1980). 'Why?' Belfast: USCA.

Ulster Special Constabulary Association (USCA)
An association of former members of the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC) or the 'B-Specials'. The group was formed in 1970 (?) following the disbanding of the USC. The group claimed to have a membership of 10,000 in 1970. There were claims of links between the USCA and Loyalist paramilitary groups. The USCA assisted in roadblocks during the 1974 Ulster Workers Council strike.

Ulster Special Constabulary Association. (1980) 'Why?' Belfast: USCA.

Ulster Television (UTV)
The Northern Ireland regional television service of the Independent Television (ITV) company. Unlike the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) which receives its funding through the television licence, the ITV company relies on income from advertising. The UTV company broadcasts a number of documentaries, political and current affairs series, as well as its local news programming.
[Web Site]

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)
synonyms: Official Unionist Party (OUP)
The Ulster Unionist Party is one of the two main Unionist political parties in Northern Ireland. The UUP has close links with the Orange Order with many of the political leaders and members of the UUP also being members of the Orange Order or one of the other loyal orders. The Ulster Unionist Party was also known as the Official Unionist Party during the 1970s because of the fact that it represented the remnants of the Unionist Party which governed Northern Ireland at Stormont between 1921 and 1972. When Terence O'Neill began to introduced reforms in the late 1960s, to meet some of the concerns of the Civil Rights Movement, the Unionist Party came under strain and split between those who supported O'Neill and those who opposed him. Some O'Neill supporters left to form the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI). Some of those who were opposed to O'Neill left to join Vanguard, or the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Some of those who had later supported Brian Faulkner left to form the Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (UPNI).

Although the party was a branch of the British Conservative Party ('the Conservative and Unionist Party') the decision of the Conservative government, led by Edward Heath, in March 1972 to prorogued the parliament at Stormont and introduce 'Direct Rule' from Westminster virtually broke the link between the two parties. In the Assembly election of 1973 the UUP obtained 24 seats but was split between those who supported Brian Faulkner and power-sharing and those who were against. When Faulkner entered the 1974 Executive the party split between those who were prepared to accept the Sunningdale Agreement and those who were against the proposals for a Council of Ireland contained in the Agreement. The UUP was part of the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) which voted to reject the Sunningdale Agreement. This vote and the split in the Unionist party led to Faulkner's resignation.

Enoch Powell was adopted by the UUP as its candidate for South Down and won the seat on 10 October 1974. Powell remained influential in the party until he lost the seat and retired from politics on 11 June 1987. By the time of the election to the Constitutional Convention in 1975 the UUP's share of the vote was down to 25.8 per cent. In 1976 some members of the UUP were involved in secret talks with members of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and this lead to disagreement with the DUP. The UUP was not involved in the May 1977 Loyalist strike and this put further strain on links with the DUP. The UUP secured additional seats for Northern Ireland at the Westminster parliament, increasing the number from 12 to 17. Harry West resigned as leader of the UUP in July 1979 following a poor result in the European election of June 1979. James Molyneaux succeeded West as party leader. The UUP boycotted the Stormont Constitutional Conference announced by Humphrey Atkins, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and also boycotted the Advisory Council. The UUP joined the Loyalist 'Day of Action' on 23 November 1981 to demand tougher security measures. During the 1983 Westminster election the UUP entered into an electoral pact with the DUP in three of the constituencies. Following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) on 15 November 1985 the UUP worked closely with the DUP to try to break the agreement.

The return of a Conservative government committed to the AIA in June 1987 resulted in an end to the boycott of government ministers as the UUP entered a series of 'talks about talks'. Further inter-party talks were held in 1991 with the UUP involved on the basis that the AIA might be replaced by some form of devolved government in Northern Ireland. On 21 September 1992 a delegation from the UUP went to Dublin as part of the Brooke-Mayhew Talks. During the end of the period of Conservative government led by John Major, April 1992 to May 1997, the UUP effectively held a balance of power and had an 'understanding' with the British government. When the Hume-Adams Initiative was revealed the UUP warned against any move away from the inter-party talks. The UUP did not oppose the Downing Street Declaration on 15 December 1993.

Little progress was initially made during the period of the multi-party talks at Stormont. It was not until the election of the Labour government in May 1997 with a large majority at Westminster that the pace of political events began to quicken. When Sinn Féin (SF) entered the multi-party talks at Stormont the UUP refused to enter into direct talks with them. The UUP remained in the talks and was one of the parties which signed the 'Good Friday' Agreement. This decision was opposed by elements within the party. Thus in the subsequent referendum in May 1998 whilst David Trimble, then leader of the UUP, campaigned for a 'Yes' vote a number of his senior colleagues worked actively to secure a 'No' vote. At the election to the Northern Ireland Assembly in June 1998 under Trimble's leadership the party polled 21.25 per cent of the vote and won 28 seats. When power was devolved to the Assembly in November 1998 it was to claim four seats in the Executive, including the position of First Minister.

Trimble's decision to work with Sinn Féin in the Executive prior to complete decommissioning by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) gave rise to further internal dissension within the party. As a result the position of Trimble as party leader came under increasing pressure from dissidents such as Jeffrey Donaldson, then UUP MP for Lagan Valley. If anything this grew in intensity following the party's poor performance at the Westminster and local government elections in June 2001. In spite of this Trimble retained his position as party leader and led the UUP into the Assembly elections in November 2003. But once again the results were disappointing with the party falling behind, both in seats and votes cast, its main political rival the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). For Donaldson and many of his supporters this was seen as the final straw and in January 2004 they resigned in mass from the party and joined the DUP.

Selection of Publications produced by the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP):
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). (1999), Statement issued by the Ulster Unionist Party in response to the Patten Report on Policing, 9 September 1999. Belfast: Ulster Unionist Party.
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). (1999), Implementing the Agreement. Belfast: Ulster Unionist Party.
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). (1973), Peace, Order and Good Government - Unionist Assembly Manifesto 1973. Belfast: Unionist Publicity and Research Department.
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). (1972), Towards the Future: A Unionist Blueprint. Belfast: Unionist Publicity and Research Department. [See also: Summary Leaflet]
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). (1972), 27 Myths About Ulster. Belfast: Ulster Unionist Party.
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). (1972) The Future of Northern Ireland: A Commentary on the Government's Green Paper. Belfast: Unionist Research Department.
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). (1970), Ulster - The Facts: The Bullet and the Bomb versus the Better Life. Belfast: Ulster Unionist Party.
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). (1969), Ulster at the Crossroads - 1969 Northern Ireland Stormont Election Manifesto. Belfast: Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). (1968), Northern Ireland Fact and Falsehood: A frank look at the present and the past. Belfast: Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).

Cochrane, Feargal. (1997) Unionist Politics and the Politics of Unionism since the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

[Web Site]

Ulster Vanguard (UV)
The Ulster Vanguard movement was essentially a political pressure group within unionism. It was formed on 9 February 1972 and was led by William Craig (former Minister of Home Affairs at Stormont); deputy leaders were the Rev. Martin Smyth and Captain Austin Ardill. Other members included David Trimble and Reg Empey. Ulster Vanguard advocated a semi-independent Northern Ireland. It was also the intention that Vanguard would provide an umbrella organisation for Loyalists. Ulster Vanguard had close links with, and strong support from Loyalist paramilitary groups. Vanguard had its own paramilitary grouping called the Vanguard Service Corps (USC) whose main function seemed to be to provide escorts for Vanguard speakers attending rallies. Vanguard held a large rally on 18 March 1972 in Belfast's Ormeau Park at which Craig said that "We must build up the dossiers on the men and women who are a menace to this country, because one day, ladies and gentlement, if the politicians fail, it will be our duty to liquidate the enemy". Vanguard also staged a two-day strike in protest at the prorogation of Stormont. In April 1972 Vanguard issued a policy statement 'Ulster - A Nation' which said that Northern Ireland might have to consider Independence. Vanguard was wound up in March 1973 with the formation of the Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party (VUPP) - the word 'progressive' was later dropped from the title. However, Ulster Vanguard reappeared in 1978 when the VUPP ended as a political party.

Selection of Publications produced by Ulster Vanguard:
Ulster Vanguard. (1972). Ulster - A Nation, (April, 1972). Belfast: Ulster Vanguard.
Lindsay, Kennedy. (1972). Dominion of Ulster?, [PDF; 1937KB] Belfast: Ulster Vanguard.
Ulster Vanguard. (n.d.?). Ulster's Finances. Belfast: Ulster Vanguard.
Craig, William. (n.d.,1972?). The Future of Northern Ireland. Belfast: Ulster Vanguard.
Ulster Vanguard. (n.d.,1972?). Community of the British Isles. Belfast: Ulster Vanguard.
(See also: Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party; VUPP.)

Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
synonyms: Protestant Action Force; Protestant Action Group
The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) is a Loyalist paramilitary group that was formed in 1966. The group adopted the name of the previous UVF which was formed in 1912 to oppose, by armed force, the arrangements for Home Rule in Ireland. Potential conflict in Ireland was averted by the First World War and many of the members of the then UVF joined the British Army's 36th (Ulster) Division and fought - and died in large numbers - on the battlefields of the Somme. The aim of the present UVF is to ensure that Northern Ireland's constitutional position within the United Kingdom is secure.

The re-established UVF was opposed to the reforms that were being considered in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As Loyalist paramilitary groups often did not claim responsibility for the killings they committed and on many occasions used pseudonyms, it is difficult to give an accurate count of the number of people killed by each organisation. However, the UVF has been responsible, over a period of almost 40 years, for scores of assassinations in Northern Ireland, mostly of innocent Catholics. The UVF is also believed to have been responsible for the greatest loss of life in a single day when it planted bombs in Dublin and Monaghan on 17 May 1974 killing 33 innocent people. In May 1966 the UVF killed a Catholic man in the Falls Road, Belfast. On 26 June 1966 Peter Ward (18), who was working as a barman in a pub in the Shankill Road, Belfast, was shot dead as he left work. Augustus ('Gusty') Spence was sentenced to life imprisonment for this killing.

In the early 1970s the main centres of UVF influence were the Shankill area of Belfast, East Antrim, and parts of County Armagh. The Red Hand Commando (RHC) a loyalist paramilitary group closely associated with the UVF was formed in 1972. In April 1974 Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, removed the proscription on the UVF (making it a legal organisation) in an attempt to encourage it to move towards constitutional politics. However, on 2 October 1975 the UVF carried out a number of attacks in which 12 people died, 6 of them were Catholic civilians. On 3 October 1975 the UVF was once again 'proscribed'. On 5 October 1975 the security forces swooped on a number of houses in Belfast and East Antrim and arrested 26 suspected UVF men. In March 1977 the men were sentenced to a total of 700 years imprisonment. In April 1983 Joseph Bennett, who was a commander in the UVF, became an informer giving the RUC information which lead to the conviction of 14 leading members of the UVF. In the coming years the UVF was to suffer from the effects of further informers.
During the 1990s the UVF had a particularly active unit in the Portadown area of Northern Ireland which was responsible for the killing of many innocent Catholics. The UVF became a part of the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) in 1991 (?). In 1996 a number of disaffected 'maverick' members of the mid-Ulster brigade of the UVF broke away to form the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).

The Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) is considered to be the source of political analysis for the UVF. The UVF declared a ceasefire on 13 October 1994; the announcement of the ceasefire by the CLMC was made by 'Gusty' Spence. During the late 1990s and into the 2000s the UVF was accussed of involvement in many killings. The UVF also engaged in internal disputes and fueds with the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and more particularly the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). Following a series of killings in July and August in 2005 the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland specified the UVF on 14 September 2005.

On Thursday 3 May 2007 the UVF issued a statement in which it stated that: "... as of 12 midnight, Thursday 3 May 2007, the Ulster Volunteer Force and Red Hand Commando will assume a non-military, civilianised, role." While the statement indicated that UVF weapons had been put "beyond reach" the organisation refused to decommission its weapons under the supervision of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD). The UVF was despecified on 14 May 2008.

On 18 June 2009 the BBC broke the news that the UVF (and RHC) had engaged with the IICD to decommission weapons. However the official statement from the UVF on the matter was not released until 27 June 2009. In the statement the UVF said it had "completed the process of rendering ordnance totally, and irreversibly, beyond use".

On 28 May 2010 members of the UVF shot dead Bobby Moffett (43) on the Shankill Road. On 15 September 2010 the IMC issued a special report which concluded that Moffett's killing had been sanctioned by the UVF.

It is estimated that the UVF and RHC were responsible for the deaths of over 500 people, mainly Catholic civilians.

[Estimates of the level of membership and the size of the arsenal of weapons that were available to the UVF are difficult to make. The UVF may have reached its high point with a membership of approximately 1,500 in the early 1970s. In the 1990s it is probable that the UVF had several hundred members many of whom would provide support to those who actually carried out attacks. The UVF was believed to have access to AK-47 rifles, pistols, and revolvers. It was also believed to have a small number of RPG-7 rocket launchers. The UVF also used stolen Powergel mining explosive in a number of attacks some of which were launched in the Republic of Ireland.]

Membership: Membership of the UVF was estimated to be up to several hundred, with a smaller number being 'active' members.
Arsenal: 200 AK-47 rifles, Uzi machineguns, and machine pistols (also home-made submachine guns); dozens of pistols and revolvers. The UVF also has a small number of RPG-7 rocket launchers and a small amount of Powergel (commercial plastic explosive), some of which has been used in bomb attacks in the Republic of Ireland.

Cusack, Jim., and McDonald, Henry. (1997), The UVF. Dublin: Poolbeg.

Ulster Workers' Council (UWC)
The Ulster Workers' Council (UWC) was a Loyalist organisation set up in 1974. It was comprised initially of a group of workers from the major industries in Belfast who had been part of the Loyalist Association of Workers (LAW) (LAW was in existence between 1971 to 1973.) Law was involved in the United Loyalist Council Strike in February 1973. However, it was the UWC which organised the strike of May 1974 which brought down the power-sharing Executive government of Northern Ireland. The UWC received the complete support of Loyalist paramilitary groups. The particular support of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), with its considerable supply of manpower, enabled the UWC to halt power supplies, transport, industry, and commerce. The UWC was controlled through a co-ordinating committee which was chaired by Glenn Barr, then a Vanguard Assembly member and member of the UDA. The committee had a number of Loyalist paramilitary representatives. Once the strike began to have an impact a number of politicians, including Ian Paisley, joined the committee. Spokesmen for the committee were Jim Smyth and Harry Murray. The UWC took part in the 1977 Loyalist strike. In 1981 Harry Murray said that the UWC was being reorganised to campaign on economic matters.
(See also: Loyalist Association of Workers; LAW)

Anderson, Don. (1994), 14 May Days: The Inside Story of the Loyalist Strike of 1974. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.

Ulster Young Militants (UYM)
synonyms: Young Militants (YM)
(See: Young Militants; YM.)

Ulster Young Unionist Council (UYUC)
The UYUC is the youth section of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). The UYUC was dissolved in January 2004 in the wake of its ongoing opposition to the policies of David Trimble, then leader of the UUP. However, a new UYUC was established and was recognised by the Ulster Unionist Council (UUC) on 27 March 2004. The first annual general meeting of the newly re-established UYUC was held on 7 April 2004.
[Web Site]

Ultacht Trust (UT)
ULTACH Trust was founded in September 1989. The principal aim of ULTACH Trust is to widen the appreciation of the Irish language and culture throughout the community in Northern Ireland. A central aim of the work is to increase interest in the language on a cross-community basis. The ULTACH Trust office acts as an information centre for those interested in the Irish language. It provides information on self-teaching packages and materials which are suitable for learners. Lists of in-house publications and research references on the language and related issues are also available.
[Web Site]

Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (UPNI)
The Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (UPNI) was officially launched in September 1974. It was formed by a group of people who had been members of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and who supported Brian Faulkner after the proposals contained in the Sunningdale Agreement had been rejected by most of the members of the UUP. This group of people had contested the 1974 Westminster election under the title 'Unionist Pro-Assembly'. In the elections to the Constitutional Convention on 1 May 1975 the UPNI obtained 7.7 per cent of the first preference votes. By the 1977 District Council elections on 18 May 1977 the UPNI received only 2.4 per cent of the first preference votes. Following poor performances in two elections in 1979 and again at the District Council elections in 1981 the party was wound up.

United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP)
The UKUP was formed in 1995 by Robert McCartney, a former member of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), who won a by-election in June 1995 to become a Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of North Down. The main political objective of the UKUP was to maintain the union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain but in addition to campaign for Northern Ireland to become more closely integrated with the rest of the United Kingdom. At the elections to the Northern Ireland Forum in May 1996 it won three seats which entitled it to be present at the multi-party talks which began in June 1996. But the UKUP was totally opposed to the format and content of these negotiations and finally withdrew from these in June 1997. The party was opposed to the Good Friday Agreement which was signed in April 1998 and actively campaigned for a 'No' vote in the referendum campaign in May 1998. At the elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly in June 1998 it won five seats. Then in December 1998 disagreements over future strategy between the party leader, McCartney, and his colleagues saw a split developing within the ranks of the UKUP. As a result four of the Assembly members left to form the Northern Ireland Unionist Party (NIUP) in January 1999 and left McCartney as the sole UKUP representative in the Assembly. At the Westminster general election of June 2001 McCartney failed to be re-elected as an MP but did succeed in being returned to the Northern Ireland Assembly in November 2003. The party ceased to exist around 2008.

United Labour Party (ULP)
This was a 'democratic socialist' party launched in 1978. One of the founding members was Paddy Devlin who had been a member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). On the question of the constitutional position of Northern Ireland, the party's policy was that it should only be changed if that was the will of the majority of the electorate and the change would further political accommodation. Devlin stood as a candidate in the 1979 European election and received 1.1 per cent of the first preference votes. Some of the people who had established the ULP went on to form the Labour Party of Northern Ireland (LPNI) in 1985.

United Unionist Assembly Party (UUAP)
The United Unionist Assembly Party (UUAP) was formed by Denis Watson, Boyd Douglas, and Fraser Agnew, who were elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly as independent candidates (on 25 June 1998) but who then launched the UUAP on 21 September 1998. Prior to the Assembly election in November 2003 those who remained linked to the UUAP decided to stand under the banner of the United Unionist Council (UUC). None however succeeded in being returned to the Assembly.

United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC)
synonyms: United Ulster Unionist Coalition; Unionist Coalition
The UUUC was established in January 1974 to oppose the Sunningdale Agreement. The UUUC was made up of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), lead by Harry West, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), lead by Ian Paisley, and the Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party (VUPP), lead by William Craig. In the 1974 Westminster election UUUC candidates won 11 of the 12 Northern Ireland seats. The UUUC considered this a mandate to oppose the power-sharing Executive. (The UUUC had put forward one candidate in each constituency to maximise its chances of winning, but those parties which were a part of the Executive ended up competing against each and thus reduced the potential number of seats that could have been won.) The 11 UUUC Members of Parliament (MPs) joined together in the 'Unionist Parliamentary Coalition' which was headed by Harry West. The UUUC held a conference in April 1974 which called for the ending of the power-sharing Executive and an end to the Council of Ireland. The UUUC supported the Ulster Workers Council (UWC) strike of May 1974 and this political backing, to a stoppage that was mainly being conducted by Loyalist paramilitary groups, helped secure the eventual success of the strike. The UUUC also fought the 1975 Constitutional Convention election and its candidates won 46 of the 78 seats. In 1976 there was disagreement within the UUUC over William Craig's suggestion of working with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and this led to a split in the Vanguard part of the UUUC. In 1977 the UUUC steering committee formed a new group called the United Unionist Action Council (UUAC). The UUAC was heavily involved with the Loyalist strike of May 1977. The UUUC collapsed following the end of the 1977 strike.

Selection of Publications by the UUUC:
United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC). (1975). A Guide to the Convention Report, (November 1975). Belfast: UUUC.

United Ulster Unionist Movement (UUUM)
This group was formed by the majority of members from the Ulster Vanguard who broke with William Craig in 1977. The UUUM was led by Ernest Baird. The UUUM was a part of the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) during the early part of 1977. The UUUM argued for the foundation of a single Unionist party. When this aim was seen to be unachievable the UUUM formed a new political party, the United Ulster Unionist Party (UUUP) and contested the 1977 district council elections. The UUUP obtained 3.2 per cent of the first preference votes in this election.
(See also: United Ulster Unionist Party; UUUP.)

United Ulster Unionist Party (UUUP)
The United Ulster Unionist Party (UUUP) was formed in early 1977 from the United Ulster Unionist Movement (UUUM). The UUUM had been formed by members of Ulster Vanguard who disagreed with William Craig. The UUUP was led by Ernest Baird and also included Reg Empey and John Dunlop. The party contested the 1977 district council elections and obtained 3.2 per cent of the first preference votes in this election. The UUUP held a seat in the 1979 general election mainly because the UUP decided not to contest the constituency. In the 1982 the UUUP fought the 1982 Assembly election but had none of its candidates elected and obtained only 1.8 per cent of the first preference votes. The UUUP ceased to exist sometime in 1982 or 1983.

United Unionist Action Council (UUAC)
The United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) was a group formed by the steering committee of the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) in early 1977. The chairman of the UUAC was Joseph Burns and the group also included Ian Paisley and Ernest Baird. The UUAC also included representatives of a number of Loyalist paramilitary groups including: the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Orange Volunteers. The UUAC organised vigilante patrols in areas of Northern Ireland under the title of Ulster Service Corps (USC). The UUAC was also a key party to the Loyalist strike which took place between 3 May 1977 and 13 May 1977. Unlike the 1974 strike the one in 1977 was unsuccessful. The UUAC ceased to exist shortly afterwards.

United Unionist Council (UUC)
At the elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly in November 2003 a number of former assembly members linked to the United Unionist Assembly Party (UUAP) agreed to stand under the title of the United Unionist Council (UUC). None however succeeded in being returned.

University of Ulster (UU)
The University of Ulster (UU) is one of two universities in Northern Ireland. Staff at the UU have carried out a wide range of research on various aspects of the Northern Ireland conflict. The UU also houses a number of specific research centres and projects which have 'the Troubles' as their focus. The most important of these being the Centre for the Study of Conflict (CSC) and the Initiative on Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity (INCORE). The UU was founded in 1968 by the merger of the then New University of Ulster (NUU) together with Jordanstown Polytechnic, the Belfast College of Art and Design, and Magee College. The decision to site the NUU in Coleraine (a mainly Protestant town) instead of Derry (a mainly Catholic city) caused political controversy during the early period of the Civil Rights movement.
[Web Site]

Unity Movement (UM)
A grouping of Nationalists that was formed in April 1973. The main spokesperson for the Unity Movement was Frank McManus who at the time was Member of Parliament (MP) for Fermanagh-South Tyrone. The party called for the release of all 'political' prisoners, the establishment of a new policing service, and the repeal of emergency legislation. McManus lost his Westminster seat during the February 1974 general election.

(xx)     Indicates that an entry is being prepared.
(?)     Information is a best estimate while awaiting an update.
(??)     Information is doubtful and is awaiting an update.
[Main Entry]     Indicates that a longer separate entry is planned in the future.

For related and background information see also:

  • The list of acronyms associated with 'the Troubles'.
  • The glossary of terms related to the conflict.
  • The biographies of people who were prominent during 'the Troubles'.
  • The chronology of the conflict.

The information in the abstracts has been compiled from numerous primary and secondary sources. The best general sources for additional information are:

initial letter of the name of the organisation

CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.

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