9 1966 UVF Formed and Declare War
The Ulster Volunteer Force was a loyalist paramilitary organisation formed in 1966 by Gusty Spence, a former soldier. With
the direct aim of maintaining Northern Ireland’s role as part of the United Kingdom, it saw itself as justified in eliminating the IRA’s Republican intention of bringing about a United Ireland through armed struggle; despite this, two thirds of its 500 victims were innocent Catholic civilians. The UVF was declared illegal in 1966 but continued its bloody campaign until declaring a ceasefire in 1994, and eventual cessation of its campaign in 2007.
12 1966 UVF Declared Illegal
Two days after the Malvern Street attack in Belfast, which resulted in the third fatality between May and June 1966, the Northern Ireland Government declared the UVF illegal. These activities would see the UVF’s leader, Gusty Spence, sentenced to life imprisonment.
14 1966 Gusty Spence Sentenced
Born in June 1933, Spence was a prominent member of the Ulster Volunteer Force for over ten years. He was one of the first to be convicted of murder after a spate of fatal incidents between May 1966 and July of that year: the death of Matilda Gould after her house was set alight as a result of a petrol-bomb attack on an adjacent Catholic pub; the fatal shooting of John Scullion; and the shooting of Peter Ward outside a pub in Malvern Street. Spence was sentenced to life, but on release from the Maze prison he embarked on a political path and played an important part in the Loyalist Ceasefire on 13th October 1994. Spence died in 2011.
73 UDA Formed
Eventually becoming the largest loyalist paramilitary organisation in Northern Ireland, the Ulster Defence Association brought together a number of loyalist bands in September
1971. It was a legal organisation until 1992, despite allegations that it was a cover name for the Ulster Freedom Fighters (outlawed in 1973).
98 UDA – 60,000
An umbrella group for a variety of Loyalist organisations, it is claimed that by the end of 1972 the Ulster Defence Association had 60,000 members
62 Red Hand Commando Formed
The Red Hand Commando were a secret Loyalist paramilitary force linked to the Ulster Volunteer Force, and whose aim was the eradication of the Irish Republican Army in defence of Northern Ireland’s union with Great Britain. Formed in the Shankhill area of West Belfast, they were a notably highly trained organisation, tasked with targeted assassinations on behalf of other Loyalist paramilitaries. It is claimed at their
peak of operations they numbered 1,000 members.