Narrative Card #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 Irish 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.

Bloody Sunday (Narrative Card #78)

78 Bloody Sunday
This infamous incident sealed the fate of British Forces in Northern Ireland on 30th January 1972, when 13 Catholic civilians were shot dead by 1st Battalion Paratroopers, and 14 others were injured.

Occurring in Derry, a Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) march was underway during which time rioting began, and at 4.10pm around Rossville Flats, British Soldiers
opened fire, claiming to have simply responding to being fired upon by a sniper.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of this tragedy.

The Player’s Aid

Wow! These boys have been supportive from the very start. An integral part of this field of study.

“History shouldn’t be easy. History shouldn’t be pleasing” (Malcolm, 2021, p.33).

The Troubles is NOT a game.

The Troubles IS an educational simulation.

The Troubles has been designed for teaching the complex historical, political, social and economic narratives that interwove a significantly important and deeply sensitive period of the 20th Century; one which continues to have domestic and international ramifications.

It has benefitted from international support spanning a variety of academic disciplines, including history, politics, literacy, counterterrorism and game design theory.

Why? As Vasily Grossman stated: “It is the writer’s duty to tell the terrible truth, and it is a reader’s civic duty to learn this truth. To turn away, to close one’s eyes and walk past is to insult the memory of those who have perished. Only those who have learned the whole truth can ever understand.” (Grossman, V. p165-66, 2011).

History Education seeks “to encourage rigorous and critical thinking about the past” (History and Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence, British Educational Research Association, 2017).

The aim of this analog model is to facilitate this in a richer, more engaging format, providing challenging intellectual and ethical opportunities for reflexive learning that perhaps other more passive mediums – documentaries, books, films, etc. – cannot; “In the physical environment, it is impossible for [participants] to evade the consequences of off-kilter ethics” (Butler, p.110).

The Troubles allows its participants to co-construct an historically-accurate, complex narrative, “involving the reader in the story emotionally” (Osborne & Avraamidou (2009)).

The Troubles is not a game. The Troubles is an educational simulation. And Peace is the only successful outcome.

Pax Christi +


Butler, Joy. (2013). Situating Ethics in Games Education. Canadian Journal of Education, v36 n4 p93-114 2013.

Grossman, V. (2011). The Hell of Treblinka in The Road: Short Fiction and Essays (p165-66), Maclehose Press, 2011.

Malcolm, F. (2021). Teaching the Srebrenica Genocide, in History Teaching Review, Vol 27. (pp. 30-33) (Ed. Smith, J)

Osborne, Avraamidou (2009). The Role of Narrative in Communicating Science. International Journal of Science Education.

Smith, J. (2016): What remains of history? Historical epistemology and historical understanding in Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence, The Curriculum Journal, DOI: 10.1080/09585176.2016.1197138

Vrasidas, C., Avraamidou, L., Theodoridou, K., Themistokleous, S. & Panaou, P. 2015. Science Fiction in Education: case studies from classroom implementations. Educational Media International.

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