Ulster Defence Association

Ulster Defence Association

Infobox War Faction
name=Ulster Defence Association
war= The Troubles

caption= A UDA flag commonly flown in Loyalist areas of Northern Ireland.
active=1971-Present (officially ended armed campaign in 2007)
leaders= UDA Inner Council
Andy Tyrie, John McMichael, Ray Smallwoods, Jackie McDonald (present)
area=Northern Ireland
strength=~40,000 (at peak)
allies=LVF (from 1997) [David Lister and Hugh Jordan, "Mad Dog: The Rise and Fall of Johnny Adair] , RHD (until 2002) [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/1762550.stm]
opponents=PIRA, Irish Nationalists

The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) is a loyalist paramilitary criminal organization in Northern Ireland, outlawed as a terrorist group in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, and which claims its aim is to defend the loyalist community from Republican terrorism. Its main objective has been to reject Unification of Ireland seeking to do so through either Ulster independence or maintenance of the Act of Union.

Its military branch has operated under the name Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF). Its activities, which have included attacks against civilians as well as members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, were originally intended by the UDA as retaliatory acts for Irish Republican violence against Protestants in Northern Ireland. The UDA/UFF has also killed at least three Irish republican paramilitary members. [http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/sutton/crosstabs.html CAIN project] ] [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/bloodysunday/article/0,,718401,00.html Bloody Sunday victim did volunteer for us, says IRA] The Guardian 19 May 2002]

The UDA officially ended its violent campaign in 2007 when it ordered its militant wing, the UFF, to stand down [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7089310.stm] .

Origin and Development

The Ulster Defence Association emerged in September 1971 as an umbrella organisation, from various vigilante groups commonly referred to as "defence associations". [ [http://www.loyalistcommissionforideologicaleducation.00freehost.com/udahistorypartone.htm The Ulster Defence Association - A short history] ] http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/organ/uorgan.htm Cain web Service: Abstracts on Organisations] ] Its first leader was Charles Harding Smith, and its most prominent early spokesperson was Tommy Herron. However Andy Tyrie would emerge as leader soon after. [H. McDonald & J. Cusack, "UDA – Inside the Heart of Loyalist Terror", Dublin, Penguin Ireland, 2004, pp. 64-65] At its peak of strength it held around forty thousand members, mostly part-time. [ [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/magazine/story/0,11913,1055983,00.html The downfall of Mad Dog Adair, part 2 | Magazine | The Observer ] ] [ [http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/Slavonic/staff/Rybar4.html The Peace Process in Northern Ireland 2 ] ] It also originally had the motto 'law before violence' and was in fact a legal organisation until it was banned on the 10th of August 1992. During this period of legality, the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) committed a large number of paramilitary attacks, [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/49696.stm BBC News | UK | UFF involved in Ulster murders - police chief ] ] [ [http://www.meta-religion.com/Extremism/Political_extremism/ulster_defense_association.htm Ulster Defense Association ] ] including the assassination of Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) politician Paddy Wilson in 1973. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Northern_Ireland/Story/0,2763,888432,00.html The Guardian] ]

In the 1970s the group favoured Northern Ireland independence, but they have retreated from this position. [ [http://www.scottishloyalists.co.uk/paramilitaries/uda.htm Ulster Defence Association ] ] The UDA was involved in the successful Ulster Workers Council Strike in 1974, which brought down the Sunningdale Agreement — an agreement which some loyalists and Unionists thought conceded too much to nationalist demands. The UDA enforced this general strike through widespread intimidation across Northern Ireland. The strike was led by Vanguard Assemblyman and UDA member, Glenn Barr. [cite book | last = Taylor | first = Peter | authorlink = Peter Taylor (Journalist) | title = Loyalists | publisher = Bloomsbury Publishing | date= 1999 | pages = pp. 128-131 | doi = | isbn = 0-7475-4519-7]

The UDA/UFF's official political position during the Troubles was that if the Provisional Irish Republican Army called off its campaign of violence, then the UDA would do the same. However, if the British government announced that it was withdrawing from Northern Ireland, then the UDA would act as "the IRA in reverse". [Brendan O'Brien, the Long War, the IRA and Sinn Féin (1995), p.91]

In 1987, the deputy UDA's deputy commander John McMichael (who was then the leader of the "UFF") promoted a document titled "Common Sense", which promoted a consensual end to the conflict in Northern Ireland, while maintaining the Union. The document advocated a power sharing assembly, involving both Nationalists and Unionists, an agreed constitution and new Bill of Rights. It is not clear however, whether this programme was adopted by the UDA as their official policy.Ibid.] However McMichael's murder that same year and the subsequent removal of Tyrie from the leadership and his replacement with an Inner Council saw the UDA concentrate on stockpiling weapons rather than political ideas. [ [http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/organ/uorgan.htm#uda "UDA"] ]

The UDA and Politics

The New Ulster Political Research Group (NUPRG) was initially the political wing of the UDA, founded in 1978, which then evolved into the Ulster Loyalist Democratic Party in 1981 under the leadership of John McMichael, a prominent UDA member killed by the IRA in 1987, amid suspicion that he was set up to be killed by some of his UDA colleagues. In 1989, the ULDP changed its name to the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) and finally dissolved itself in 2001 following very limited electoral success. Gary McMichael, son of John McMichael, was the last leader of the UDP, which supported the signing of the Good Friday Agreement but had poor electoral success and internal difficulties. The Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) was subsequently formed to give political analysis to the UDA and act as community workers in loyalist areas. It is currently represented on the Belfast City Council.

Campaign of Violence and the UFF

Throughout its period of legality, the UDA's paramilitary operations were always carried out under the name UFF or Ulster Freedom Fighters. There is still debate over whether the two organisations were in fact one and the same, with the actions of activists. UDA members have since confirmed that they received intelligence files on republicans from British Army and RUC intelligence sources. [Peter Taylor "Loyalists"]

One of the most notorious UDA attacks (carried out by the paramilitary wing, the UFF) came in October 1993, when two UFF men attacked a restaurant called the Rising Sun in the predominantly Catholic village of Greysteel, County Londonderry, where two hundred people were celebrating Halloween.The two men entered, shouted "Trick or treat!" and opened fire.Eight people were killed and nineteen wounded. This is known as the Greysteel massacre. The UDA/UFF claimed the attack was in retaliation to the IRA's Shankill Road bombing which killed nine, seven days earlier.

According to the Sutton database of deaths at the University of Ulster's [http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/sutton/crosstabs.html CAIN project] , the UDA/UFF was responsible for 259 killings during the Troubles. 208 of its victims were civilians (predominantly Catholics), 37 were other loyalist paramilitaries (including 30 of its own members), three were members of the security forces and eleven were republican paramilitaries. Some believe that a number of these attacks were carried out with the assistance or complicity of the British Army and/or the Royal Ulster Constabulary, which the Stevens Enquiry appeared to add credence to, although the exact number of people murdered as a result of collusion, if any, has not been revealed. The preferred modus operandi of the UDA was individual killings of select civilian targets in nationalist areas, rather than large-scale bomb or mortar attacks.

Renouncement of Violence

On November 11, 2007, the UDA formally renounced violence, but a commander said the group would not surrender its weapons to international disarmament officials. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2007/11/11/ireland-defence.html CBC News: Protestant paramilitary group in N. Ireland renounces violence] ]

The UDA has been accused of taking vigilante action against alleged drug dealers, including tarring and feathering a man on the Taughmonagh estate in south Belfast. [Henry McDonald [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/northernirelandassembly/story/0,,2160847,00.html Terror gangs fight to keep street power] , "The Observer", 2 September 2007, accessed 13 January 2008] [Henry McDonald [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,2239941,00.html Law and order Belfast-style as two men are forced on a 'walk of shame'] , "The Observer", 13 January 2008, accessed 13 January 2008] The group had also developed strong links with neo-nazi groups in Great Britain such as Combat 18,Fact|date=September 2008 though in 2005 the UDA announced that it was severing all ties with neo-Nazi organisations.Fact|date=February 2007.

They have been involved in several feuds with the Ulster Volunteer Force, which led to many murders.Fact|date=February 2007 The UDA has also been riddled by its own internecine warfare, with self-styled "brigadiers" and former figures of power and influence, such as Johnny Adair and Jim Gray (themselves bitter rivals), falling rapidly in and out of favour with the rest of the leadership. Gray and John Gregg are amongst those to have been killed during the internal strife. On February 22 2003, the UDA announced a "12-month period of military inactivity". [ [http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=229252003 Scotland on Sunday] ] It said it will review its ceasefire every three months. It also apologised for the involvement of some of its members in the drugs trade.Fact|date=February 2007 The UPRG's Frankie Gallagher has since taken a leading role in ending the association between the UDA and drug dealing. [ [http://www.4ni.co.uk/northern_ireland_news.asp?id=68155 Loyalist Drug Dealers Are "Scum" Says UPRG] ]

On June 20, 2006 the UDA expelled Andre Shoukri and his brother Ihab, two of its senior members who were heavily involved in crime. Some see this as a sign that the UDA is slowly coming away from crime. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/5099082.stm?ls BBC Report] ] The move did see the south-east Antrim brigade of the UDA, which had been at loggerheads with the leadership for some time, support Shoukri and break away under former UPRG spokesman Tommy Kirkham. [ [http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/article2402742.ece UDA expels south east Antrim brigade chiefs] ] Other senior members met with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern for talks on the 13th of July in the same year. [ [http://u.tv/newsroom/indepth.asp?id=75152&pt=n UTV report] ]


Its ceasefire was welcomed by the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Paul Murphy and the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Hugh Orde.

Following an August 2005 "Sunday World" article that poked fun at the gambling losses of one of its leaders, the UDA banned the sale of the newspaper from shops in areas it controls. Shops that defy the ban have suffered arson attacks, and at least one newsagent was threatened with death. [ [http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/article/040805/sunday_world_faces Press Gazette] ] The PSNI have recently begun accompanying the paper's delivery vans. [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-1507-1743605-1187,00.html Times Online] ] [ [http://www.nuzhound.com/articles/irish_news/arts2005/aug16_Loyalists_dont_want_to_face_up__SMcKay.php Nuzhound] ] The UDA was also considered to have played an instrumental role in loyalist riots in Belfast in September 2005. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4244158.stm BBC] ]

On the November 13, 2005, the UDA announced that it would "consider its future", in the wake of the standing down of the Provisional IRA and Loyalist Volunteer Force. [ [http://www.rte.ie/news/2005/1113/north.html RTE] ]

In February 2006, the Independent Monitoring Commission reported UDA involvement in organised crime, drug trafficking, counterfeiting, extortion, money laundering and robbery. [ [http://www.independentmonitoringcommission.org/publications.cfm?id=31 Eighth Report of the Independent Monitoring Commission] ]

On 11th November 2007 the UDA announced that the Ulster Freedom Fighters would be stood down from midnight of the same day, but they did not and are still here to this day [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/7089310.stm BBC NEWS | UK | Northern Ireland | UFF given the order to stand down ] ] with its weapons "being put beyond use" although it stressed that these would not be decommissioned.

Red Hand Defenders

The Red Hand Defenders is an organisation that formed in 1998. Its members are loyalist hard-liners that oppose the ceasefire. The organisation seems to be made up of members of the UDA/UFF and LVF — all organisations that officially denounce them. [ [http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/rhd.htm FAS] ] Speculation remains as to exactly what their relationships are.


See also

*Ulster Young Militants
*Jackie McDonald

Further reading

*Steve Bruce, The Red Hand, 1992, ISBN 0-19-215961-5
*Colin Crawford, "Inside the UDA: Volunteers and Violence," 2003.
*Ed Moloney, "The Secret History of the IRA"
*Brendan O'Brien, "The Long war, the IRA and Sinn Féin"

External links

* [http://www.scottishloyalists.co.uk/paramilitaries/uda.htm Ulster Defence Association]

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