chapter  7
19 Pages

‘They were once my people’

The widely held image of the Loyalist terrorist is that of a vicious, nakedly sectarian paramilitary, having, as one commentator argued, all the ‘political nous of a Rottweiler’. In Chapter 4 we were introduced to ‘Alan’, a former member of the Ulster Volunteer Force. In this chapter, we are introduced to a very different kind of Loyalist. ‘Doug’ is a former Commander of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), the military wing of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). The UDA was the largest Loyalist paramilitary organisation in Northern Ireland, which, like the UVF, sought to uphold Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom and defend Loyalist communities from the IRA. It was formed in 1971 as an umbrella group spanning a number of local vigilante associations. One of the features that distinguished the UDA from the UVF is that the UDA in the 1970s advocated total independence for Northern Ireland. Also long since forgotten is the fact that the UDA once functioned as a legal organisation under the motto of ‘law before violence’. But it was during this legal period that the UDA committed many terrorist acts under the cover name ‘Ulster Freedom Fighters’. The Republican community, particularly members of the Irish Republican Army, represented the UDA/UFF’s primary target. Just like the UVF, the term ‘tit for tat’ was frequently used to refer to UDA/UFF retaliation against the Irish Republican violence.