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Ulster Volunteer Force
The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) is a loyalist paramilitary (civilians trained as soldiers) group based in Northern Ireland. It was formed in 1966. It takes its name from the UVF of World War I. The Ulster Volunteer Force was started as a Protestant/Unionist militia (citizen military force) in 1912 to oppose the Home Rule campaign for a separate Irish parliament. Many UVF members formed the 36th (Ulster) Division that fought with the British Army in World War I. The Progressive Unionist Party is the political wing of the outlawed Ulster Volunteer Force and Red Hand Commando. Although the PUP is called a loyalist fringe party, it has more moderate unionist views than any of the traditional unionist parties.
During the Troubles in Northern Ireland (1969-1998), the UVF carried out many attacks:
- In 1971, they bombed McGurk's Bar in Belfast which was situated in a predominantly Catholic area of the city. The blast killed 15 Catholics and destroyed the building.
- In 1974, they placed three car bombs in the centre of Dublin and another in Monaghan, which were deliberately exploded at rush hour to kill as many people as possible. The bombs killed 33 people and injured over 300, making it the worst atrocity of the conflict.
- In 1975, they shot dead three members of the Miami Showband, a popular showband from Dublin, as they were travelling home from doing a show in County Down, Northern Ireland.
- In 1994, they attacked a bar in Loughinisland County Down and fired on the customers. The attack killed six Catholics and injured five others.
- Following the murder of a Catholic taxi driver in Portadown in July 1996, the Mid-Ulster Brigade of the UVF was expelled. They immediately set up the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).
Ceasefire and decommissioning
After a continuous campaign of 28 years, the UVF called a ceasefire in October 1994. They stated in October 2007 that they had ended their campaign and in June 2009 they announced they had decommissioned (destroyed their weapons), however the UVF have been involved in a number of incidents since then, which has put the announcement in doubt.
Deaths as a result of campaign
From the organization's creation in 1966 and ending of campaign in 2007, the UVF were responsible for at least 400 murders, however it is believed the actual figure is closer to 1,000. The UVF stated that their mission was to destroy Irish republican paramilitary groups, however over 80% of their victims were Catholic civilians.
- Steve Bruce, The Red Hand, 1992, ISBN 0-19-215961-5
- Jim Cusack & Henry McDonald, UVF, 2000, ISBN 1-85371-687-1
- Martin Dillon, The Dirty War
- Brendan O'Brien, The Long War - the IRA and Sinn Féin
- Peter Taylor, Loyalists
- Tony Geraghty, The Irish War