pre-war Ulster Volunteer Force
Protestant Action Force
Ulster Defence Association
Ulster Protestant Action
National Action of Protestants
Ulster Constitutional Defence Committee
Ulster Protestant Volunteers
Red Hand Commando
Ulster Freedom Fighters
Ulster Young Militants
Combined Loyalist Militaary Command
Loyalist Volunteer Force
Ulster Citizens' Army
Ulster Defence Force
Red Hand Defenders
Protestant Action Force
Unionism, loyalism and armed resistance
In the second half of the nineteenth century pressure for home rule was growing. Two home-rule bills were defeated, the first in the Commons, the second in the Lords. in 1910, the new Liberal Party government depended on the votes of the Irish Parliamentary Party, making it clear that there would soon be a third bill ..
In 1911 a major obstacle to Home Rule was removed when the power of the Lords to veto major Commons legislation was removed (?Salisbury convention)
Ulster Volunteer Force - UVF (pre-Great
In Protora Hill, Enniskillen, in the lead-up to the Covenant, Carson was accompanied by two squadrons of mounted Fermanagh Farmers, watching 40 000 men of the Ulster Clubs march past. Then in January 1912 local Unionist leaders began to raise and drill troops of volunteers, openly and legally .
In September 1912 Carson led the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant, in his own blood, at Belfast City Hall. 470 000 in the nine counties of Ulster signed, committing themselves to use ‘all means which may be found necessary to defeat the present conspiracy to set up a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland’.
The executive of the Ulster Unionist Council - the body coordinating the campaign against Home Rule - decided in its January 1913 meeting that the diverse groups of loyalists who had been drilling secretly should be united into a single body known as the Ulster Volunteer Force, to be limited to 100 000 men. By the summer it had a commander, retired Indian Army Lt-General Sir George Richardson.
By the end of 1913 the UVF was a virtual state within a state with over 90 000 part-time volunteers, a small full-time force, mobilisation plans, a communications system, a motor-car and motor-cycle section and a nursing corps . Unlike its later namesake, the 1912 UVF had universal appeal, training at both the Duke of Abercorn’s and O’Neills’ estates.
After a few months drilling, troops were becoming frustrated at their ritualised battle drills carried out without weapons. Belfast businessman Major Frederick Crawford (ex-RA) proposed to the UUC to purchase 20 000 rifles from Germany and ship them direct to Ulster. Despite council doubts of the wisdom of fully arming the UVF, James Craig, Carson’s administrative number two, strongly supported the scheme. The landing of the arms and ammunition from the Clyde Valley at Larne on 24 April 1914 have subsequently gone down in the mythology of loyalism. 35 000 rifles and 2 000 000 rounds of ammunition were offloaded; 500 cars collected and distributed the weapons while a large UVF contingent made a display of force around the decoy SS Balmerino in Belfast .
On the outbreak of war, four months after the Larne landing, Secretary for War Lord Kitchener was keen that the UVF enlist in his army, as there was no conscription on the island of Ireland. To do this he had to promise that the Ulster Volunteers would serve together and that the provisions of the Home Rule bill would not come into effect until after the war.
During the war the UVF, YCV, regular and territorial battalions from across Ulster served in the 36th Ulster and 19th Irish Divisions and elsewhere, distinguishing themselves above all on the battlefields of Picardy in the Battle of the Somme. Over xx 000 died in this and other theatres, most volunteers. This sacrifice and the continued threat of Ulster unionist resistance led to the Government of Ireland Act in 1920, partitioning Ireland into the 26 county Free State, a dominion of the Empire, and the 6 County Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.
1920s reactivated UVF (Civil War fears and IRA agitation)
The settlement of partition was not without loyalist agitation. Amidst the confusion surrounding the border, where it would be drawn, and the content of the Government of Ireland Act, Lord Carson threatened to reform the UVF which had disbanded on demob. On the Twelfth of July that year he addressed a parade, "I tell the British people .. if there is any attempt to take away one jot or title of your rights as British citizens .. I will call out the Ulster Volunteers. "
Immediately after participation there was little confidence in the abilities of the Royal Irish Constabulary who had been haemmoraging English officers and Irish men over the preceding years, the result of republican guerilla warfare. Local unionist leaders - most active among them Sir Basil Brooke in Fermanagh, the later Prime Minister of Northern Ireland - and former army officers up to General Ricardo mobilised vigilante groups and companies of volunteers. Prominent among those in Belfast promoting the reactivation of the Volunteers was Frederick Crawford, now a Lieutenant-Colonel. The Unionist leadership approved the re-launch when IRA violence and loyalist retaliation grew. William Spender (Lt-Col) left the Ministry of Pensions to assume command. 23 July 1920 saw the press carrying advertisements for call members and former members to report for duty .
The 1920 UVF commanded as much broad support as the original 1912 Volunteers: it was led by knights, lords and sernior army officers. Unlike the war-time UVF, this body was entirely unofficial and probably illegal. Importantly it did however have a cosy relationship with both the Constabulary and British Army. Due to the unrest, Unionist leaders of the new Northern Ireland Government persuaded the British Government to authorise and fund the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC), an auxiliary police force organised on military lines. The USC was in effect the UVF.
Although the IRA had withdrawn from a military campaign in 1921, it was not until 1925 that two of the three categories of constables, the A and C, were stood down. The B Specials (as they came to be known) continued to exist as a locally recruited part-time Protestant militia .
IRA violence all but disappeared, but later there were two further official campaigns: in 1942 and from 1956 - 1961; in all 9 RUC men, 2 B Specials and 12 Republicans had been killed, many others injured. This violence from republicans did not, therefore disappear in 1921 and the perceived threat to the Northern Ireland state and Ulster Protestants reminded loyalists that they had an enemy south of the border, and an enemy within. In spite of this there was no need for a private militia as the B Specials conituned to exist, having subsumed many of the 1920 roles of the UVF, as well as personnel.
Ulster Volunteer Force anti-Catholic squads
On 27 May 1966, a group of Shankill Road loyalists went out to find and kil Leo Martin, a well-known Republican in the Belfast Brigade of the IRA. Driving through Clonard they failed to find him and set instead upn a young drunken labourer who was singing Republican songs. John Patrick Scullion was shot (stabbed?) and left for dead, dying on 11 June, first victim claimed by a new UVF. They claimed the incident before he died in an anonymous call to the Belfast Telegraph, with the words by Adjutant 1 Belfast Batt.: "From this day we declare war against the IRA and its splinter groups. Known IRA men will be executed mercilessly and without hesitation." Then on 26 June 1966 four young Catholic men were shot leaving the Malvern Arms in Malvern Street on the Shankill. One (Peter Ward) died, two were seriously wounded.
Two days after the second incident, Augustus ‘Gusty’ Spence, Bobby Williamson and Hugh McClean were charged with the murder. Two days after this, on 28 June, Northern Ireland’s Prime Minister Terence O’Neill proscribed the UVF, making very clear the distinction between the 1912 Volunteers and 1960s murder gangs:
Let no one imagine there is any connection whatever between the two bodies; between men who were ready to die for their country on the fields of France, and a sordid conspiracy of criminals prepared to take up arms against unprotected fellow citizens. No, this organisation now takes its proper place alongside the IRA in the schedule of illegal bodies .
So thus the Ulster Volunteers were illegal
from the start of the Troubles.They were a dedicated, hard-core organisation
whose members' average age - around 30 - was higher than the UDA. They
were not involved in petty crime and operations were usually well thought
out. They had two aims:? to carry out terrorist actions against
Catholics.? to be prepared for large-scale operations
should there be a civil war - a throwback to previous campaigns.
When Spence and his two contemporaries were imprisoned there was no accompanying upsurge in loyalist violence, despite messages sent under the codename Captain William Johnston threatening action. The organisation was sporadic and there was little organised support for the prisoners. While they were locked away, a key core of mostly ex-servicemen recruited friends and those frequent attenders at marches and rallies. There was arms training, fund raising and small-scale exercises to rehearse defending areas against republican attack .
In 1971 the UVF came back to life after quiet years since 1966, a reaction to the increase in violence surrounding the introduction of internment which was seen to reinforce their earlier justification. On 14 Dec 1971 a bomb ripped through McGurk’s bar on North Queen Street killing fifteen. The Army and police ran the story that the explosion was an IRA own goal caused by a bomb in transit, reiterated in Loyalist News by McKeague, even though the UVF had admitted responsibility in a telephoned statement. Again, this was important so that their own violence be perceived as a reaction to the republican threat.
During 1972 and early 1973 the UVF suffered from a lack of effective leadership and in the meantime, the UDA had surpassed it in size and effectiveness. The legality and thus higher profile of the UDA were a source of irritation and this put pressure on the UVF leadership from members for a more public presence. From 1966 to 1973 the UVF preferred to operate through other organisations but resentment of the ‘strutting cocks’ of the ‘late-comers’ in the UDA led to UVF men coming out of Tara and assuming a higher profile . After July 1973, in the autumn and winter, the UVF began to catch up, mounting an effective retaliation to the IRA’s pub-bombing campaign. It bombed more than the UDA and IRA combined. On 17.05.1974 it planted car bombs in Monaghan and Dublin, killing thirty.
Protestant Action Force (PAF)
1974 name for the east Antrim UVF and sometimes the mid-Ulster groups. Particularly active in late 1974 and early 1975, the Dungannon-based group was responsible for 30 murders in the mid-Ulster murder triangle between Dungannon, Portadown and Armagh. Also used by the UVF during ceasefires. Sometimes also Protestant Action Group (PAG).
The UVF Political Efforts :
The Volunteer Political Party was created in aftermath of the success of the UWC strike. There was much internal division on whether it should be created as it was seen to be irrelevant by some who saw UVF’s main business as continued terror and killing. Applied to join UUUC but was turned down (politicians were keen to distance themselved from loyalists as much as possible after the strike). And with one forum (Westminster) remaining and the Unionist parties traditionally dominant there was little chance of success.
Ken Gibson stood in the October 1974 Westminster election and polled only 2 690 votes in the West Belfast constituency, despite having the support of Glen Barr (leader of UWC earlier that year, vice-chairman of Vanguard and political spokesman of the UDA) who was condemned by UUUC and Vanguard. He came in fourth, with only 14.2% of the total unionist vote. In November, a mass meeting of UVF commanders in the North Belfast Orange Hall voted to close down the VPP; leadership changes also reduced the influence of the politically-minded old guard .
Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Other bodies appearing include : Ulster Protestant Volunteers, Ulster Constitutional Defence Committee, Ulster Protestant Action.
Ulster Protestant Action (UPA)
A populist political movement of the early 1970s involving Paisley. Described itself as: "Its basis and union is Protestantism, the Protestantism of the Bible. It unflinchingly maintains the cardinal doctrines of Christianity as set forth in the Apostle’s Creed an uncompromisingly denounces all forms of popery .. Its purpose is to permeate all activities social and cultural with Protestant ideals and in the accomplishment of this end it is primarily dedicated to immediate action in the sphere of employment . The body was modelled on the efficiently exclusivist Catholic Action movement in Europe and Australia.
National Union of Protestants (NUP)
Religious pressure group in which Paisley was a significant figure.
Ulster Consitutional Defence Committee (UCDC)
Paisley’s first political organisation to be solely a vehicle of his creation. Organised rallies and marches to provide regular platforms for a combination of evangelical religion and right-wing unionism.
Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV)
The Ulster Protestant Volunteers Established <1968. Early 1970s groups following Paisley. Paisley’s rank-and-file support was coordinated by Noel Doherty, a young Belfast printer. He organised small groups of loyalists into divisions of the UPV. Both name and structure were chose to signal continuity with the old UVF, although it was later claimed that divisions referred to parliamentary constituencies and the constitution stated that "any member associated with, or giving support to, any subversive or lawless activities whatsoever shall be expelled from the body. The chairman of the UCDC has vested in him full authority to act in such cases ." This may indicate that Paisley was expecting the UPV to attract unruly elements.
Many active UPV men were also UVF members; subsequently the core membership were prepared to imitate the IRA in using explosives, reinforcing the claims of anti-O’Neill unionists that his policies would only encourage nationalists to use physical force. It is improbable that Paisley knew of or that his organisation had responsibility for the serious illegal acts of violence.
For the two months after the spring 1969 Stormont elections - which did not provide O’Neill with a strong mandate and consolidated the fault lines within Unionism - the UPV hard men decided to up the pressure. Without an effective IRA which would have been encouraged by the weak, appeasing government, the UPV sought to provoke loyalist attack on the nationalist community at large by organising a series of explosions at public-utility installations including the Silent Valley-Belfast water pipeline. Even if Paisley himself was unaware that this was happening, someone connected with his Protestant Telegraph must have known the bombers’ true identity.
Tara originated from the same milieu as the UCDU-UPV, founded in 1966 by William McGrath who was later convicted of repeated sexual abuse of residents of the Kincora Boy’s Home where he worked. Tara was an offbeat alternative to mainstream Unionism. McGrath was a British Israelite who believed the original Ulster people to be one of the lost tribes of Israel. He also argued that the Protestants were the original inhabitants of Ireland, driven to Scotland by Celtic invaders. He resented the hijacking of Irish gaelic language and culture by nationalists and named his own Orange Lodge ‘Ireland’s Heritage’. Despite this he was fiercely anti-Catholic.
Tara originated in the Orange Order and can be considered a 1970s Order ‘ginger group ’. Many of its more committed members were also in the UVF and consequently it developed into a paramilitary organisation. Alone among loyalist paramilitaries it promoted a religious anti-Catholicism. UVF members were encouraged by their chain of command to go to its meetings and get involved though the organisation did little beyond collecting weapons. Although it was never stated in public, the articulate and educated nature of its speakers implied that Tara had the backing of the Orange Order hierarchy.
The Tara leadership were of the view that
there was a conspiracy among the centre to left groupings ie liberal unionists,
communists and Irish republicans to subvert the Union. The UVF wre not,
however, impressed by their lack of deeds to accompany their martial rhetoric
and talk of preparedness for armed defence. There was an absence of arms
training and weapons. The UVF reached a position of viewing Tara as a
way of identifying and recruiting supporters and possible committed volunteers,
but little else .
Links between the UVF and the Unionist political leadership
Critics of Unionism as a political idea view the UVF, the RUC and Ulster Unionists as different points on the same spectrum of expected patterns of behaviour within a post-colonial, ethno-religiously based philosophy. Thus they take the links between terrorists and constitutional politicians for granted.
There are two suggested linkages of this kind; links to Paisley, and links to the mainstream of the Unionist Party leadership. In the first, Paisley’s associations - directly and through the various organisations he has been involved in - are emphasised, particularly with the UVF. The often quoted example of a Shankill UVF member’s alleged statement to police is often repeated without adding that his counsel denied in court that the statement had ever been made . The second also carries some weight in the earlier years of the Troubles, in that many Unionist Party members, even members of O’Neill’s own divided cabinet, disliked his liberal rhetoric of reform and accommodation, labelling it rebel appeasement.
Loyalist claims of this kind of legitimisation by association are hard to substantiate or take purely at face value. By the nature of such groups they seek (support) of the Unionist mainstream. By claiming it, the current UVF want to emphasise the continuity of their organisation - seeking legitimacy of tradition - with the original 1912 Volunteers, with the rather more explicit support from and direct role played by the Ulster gentry, land-owners and middle classes. Gusty Spence also claimed that ‘his’ Standard Bar UVF was merely part of a larger scheme initiated in 1965. His interview claims of orders being transmitted direct from top politicians at Stormont cannot be substantiated. Such high-level direction would transform the thugs into acceptable unionists like their middle-class counterparts, with the added [bonus] of having the courage of their convictions. According to Martin Dillon the 1965 UVF revival was led by three ‘prominent’ Unionist politicians at Stormont whom he was unable to name for legal reasons; the key to the UVF-Unionist relationship probably lies in this shroud of legal protection.
Red Hand Commando
The Red Hand Commando was set up by John McKeague when he was expelled from the Shankill Defence Association and it was initially independent of the UVF, although many of its members were McKeague’s associates from the Shankill UVF. McKeague also produced the Loyalist News. It was fully merged into the UVF in?1975.
Amid the deteriorating situation following the replacement of Prime Minister O’Neill with his cousin Chichester-Clark in May 1969, Catholics were no longer prepared to accept any concessions Stormont would make. Nor would Protestants tolerate any being made. The summer months of unrest added to the growing level of violence. The RUC split up a pub fight on the Crumlin Road, triggering several weekends of unrest in the republican Ardoyne. This was the spur to the creation of the Shankill Defence Association (SDA), on the other side of the Crumlin Road.
Shankill community leaders met in Tennent Street Hall the week following O’Neill’s resignation. They launched the SDA as a ‘community association’ to fight city hall and urban planner. Although this was necessary, the organisation began to follow more traditional roles of local defence and only a couple of its meetings were on the subject of redevelopment. John McKeague was elected chairman at the first meeting by the influence of his firend, Mina Browne, herself a member of UPA abd strong supporter of the UVF. McKeague was involved with the 1969 UPV bombing campaign and associated with Shankill UVF men, also a committed member of Paisley’s Free Presbyterian Church. He was also known to some to be a homosexual.
In the violence and upheaval of August 1969 McKeague’s SDA was to the fore in orchestrating pressure on Catholics to move out of Protestant areas, particularly in the Unity Flats enclave. The group was controlled from an office at the Bricklayer’s Arms in Wilton Street. SDA ‘helped’ Catholics and Protestants to relocate to areas of their own kind. McKeague boasted that if they had had 48 hours longer before the arrival of troops they could have burnt the Catholics out of Belfast. He had a few hundred men at his disposal for rioting but was unpopular among other local groups; they wanted to be distanced from his behaviour and to retain their own control of the Protestant working class. Orange Order, UCDC and the Unionist Party buried their differences to condemn him. He was arrested in December 1969 on charges of UPV bombings. On release in the summer of 1970 he was unsuccessful in his attempt to take over the other small Defence Committees.
It was the upswing in general street violence surrounding Internment (August 1971) which led to a revival in and consolidation of the diverse Protestant vigilante groups. Three days after the introduction of internment, a leaflet was circulated around loyalist areas:
Being convinced that the enemies of the Faith and Freedom are determined to destroy the State of Northern Ireland and thereby enslave the people of God, we call on all members of our loyalist institutions, and other responsible citizens, to organise themselves immediately into platoons of twenty under the command of someone capable of acting as sergeant. Every effort must be made to arm these platoons, with whatever weapons are available. The first duty of each platoon will be to formulate a plan for the defence of its own street or road in cooperation with platoons in adjoining areas. A structure of command is already in existence and the various platoons will eventually be linked in a coordinated effort .
At the same time, Paisley was promoting the ‘third force’ to augment police and army. The vigilante groups included ex-B Specials who formed the Ulster Special Constabulary Association (USCA). The groups were felt to be most needed in interface areas of the city and also grew strong in areas away from inner-city interfaces to which many had been forced to flee. During 1971 the many small groups coalesced into District Ulster Defence Associations.
Relations between the Army and loyalist patrols were generally good: their presence enabled the Army to concentrate on Catholic areas. As long as they did nothing illegal they were a welcome deterrent. Unfortunately, this lop-sided policing further alienated Catholics from the security forces who were perceived to be jointly patrolling with Protestant thugs. They grew gradually to be more frequently armed and centrally organised. The institutionalisation and coalescing of the diverse groups is unclear, lost in the myths of time. A series of meetings brought about the joining of the ‘wee teams’ of UVF men who worked under the Tara banner and those in the frontline defence groups. The diverse and random nature of these groups compicated the evolution of a single body as each group promoted its own leader
The first meeting under the banner of the UDA attracted a mere 18 people in the early summer of 1971. The second attracted 100 and the third some 3 000. It was initially led by Billy Hull, a leading trade unionist, with Alan Moon of the Woodvale Defence Association as his vice. The latter left quickly as the militaristic line was not to his liking.
Ulster Freedom Fighters
A name used by the UDA operators to claim any attacks which would have brought about its proscription.
Ulster Young Militants
In the early 1970s a UFF section strong in west Belfast, more officially the UDA’s youth wing but also used as a name to claim murders in the 1970s.
UVF/UDA combined strategy and procurement
Combined Loyalist Military Command
In 1991 police believed four factors to be behind the upsurge in UDA/UVF activity; at the time of the Brooke talks (10 weeks) they had been outgunning the Provos, 13-9 in NI:
· weapons now in the hands of the
In early 1997 a civilian was shot and
a loyalist car-bombed by loyalists clinging to the CLMC ceasefire. The
CLMC was declared defunct by the UVF and UDA during 1997; they stated
that it had been a moribund body for some time with tension between the
loyalist factions reaching dangerous levels.
Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF)
Billy Wright, a leading loyalist suspected of twelve murders and main voice of extreme loyalism, led the mid-Ulster Brigade (Portadown) of the Ulster Volunteer Force. Unusually he was a tetotaller, non-smoker and anti-swearer. Despite this his grouping is believed to have financed its operations through drug-dealing. During the 1990s he voiced publicly his justification of UVF and UDA atrocities such as the Greysteel and Loughinisland bar attacks as being retaliations for IRA mass killings: "That’s just war." Wright spearheaded opposition to the peace process following the 1994 CLMC ceasefire, claiming it would lead to the betrayal of unionists. In July 1996 he was prominent in the bitter Drumcree stand-off between the Orange Order and RUC. David Trimble’s meeting with him - amid rumours that loyalists were preparing to spray police and army with petrol from a slurry spreader - sparked a political storm. During the stand-off members of his unit shot dead a Catholic taxi-driver (July 1996),?the first breach of ceasefire. This led to the expulsion of the entire UVF mid-Ulster Brigade and in August Wright defied a CLMC order to leave Ulster in 72 hours or face "summary justice".
Within months Wright created the Loyalist Volunteer Force. It came to the fore in Jan/Feb 1997, describedas being "proactive .. [intending] to take the war to Dublin in the near future." It was then reckoned to command 500 activists with access to weaponries containing Kalashnikovs and commercial explosive. Its governing body is known as the "Northern Army Council". In February 1997 it admitted responsibility for bomb hoaxes in nationalist areas and the punishment shootings of 3 Protestants. During 1997 it continued to agitate against the ceasefire, engaging in tit-for-tat killings of Catholics. In May it threatened visitors from the South that they should not assume they were safe in the North, and began to target prison officers. On 27.12.1997 its emprisoned leader was shot five times leaving the INLA-LVF H-Block H6 at the Maze Prison by three INLA gunmen, having escaped six IRA attempts on his life .
Close links to the Ulster Party (pro-independence).
Set up to fight the Anglo-Irish Agreement
in 1985, at a November 1986 rally in Belfast’s Ulster Hall. It was launched
by Paisley and Robinson of the DUP and Alan Wright of the Ulster Clubs
at the private meeting attended by 2 000 men. It was initiated after the
year-long ‘Ulster Says No’ campaign had achieved little. It failed to
recruit large numbers but organised some active groups in the rural areas
of Fermanagh and Armagh, particularly among Free Presbyterians (qv. Paisley)
and other rural conservative Protestants. As with his previous initiatives,
Paisley began to distance himself from them when reports of its illegality
Formed in 1972 as a paramilitary organisation
for Orange Order members. They bombed a pub in Belfast in 1973. Otherwise
they did little illegal other than collect the considerable amount of
arms found in the city’s Orange Halls in the early 1970s; active in the
Loyal Orange Order
formed 1795. Members number ca. 70-75
Ulster Citizens’ Army (UCA)
A completely fictitious left-wing paramilitary organisation created by British Intelligence; a dirty tricks campaign to stir up division among loyalist paramilitaries. An October 1972 press release claimed it was composed of more class-conscious, socialist-orientated members of the UDA, frustrated by the lack of response to security force action against loyalists. In 1974 they claimed Herron and Elliott post mortem as Lieutenant Colonels. The truth of the story is entwined with the fate of Colin Wallace. He believes the UCA had existed before it was taken up by the Lisburn Information Policy Unit. There was never a UCA mural or graffito – key street-cred devices.
Sammy Smith and Harry Chicken set up the Ulster Citizens’ Civil Liberties (UCCL) in 1973 as a loyalist alternative to the National Council of Civil Liberties.
Ulster Defence Force
The Ulster Defence Force was one of Tyrie’s projects, and it was through the UDF that he sought to replace the old guard in the leadership with a new guard. This new guard’s rise happened in the event by misfortune and failure and necessity, rather than orderly succession. The UDF was to train hundreds of efficient NCOs - to lead the Ulster people in the event of full scale civil war - at training centres across Northern Ireland, particularly one near Magilligan. Due to a lack of enthusiasm for the project and its funding on the part of brigadeers, it never really took on a great role.
Red Hand Defenders
Claimed the shooting of Brian Service in N Belfast in October 1998; strong in Portadown.
Constitutional nationalists and non-constitutional nationalists is now a word applied to Republicanism which in turn has led to mean militant, armed nationalism.
any attempt at a middle ground way may have appeared doomed from the outset due to communal division and the continuing presence of IRA and the high-handed approach of Stormont government, but nonetheless the NILP had 4 MPs in Stormont, all elected from Belfast where the party gained almost as many votes as the UUP.
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