In the wake of growing militancy in the Protestant areas of Belfast, the Ulster Defence Association,whose members took part in a gun battle with the British Army last week (Sept. 7), has formed a common front with Mr.
In the wake of growing militancy in the Protestant areas of Belfast, the Ulster Defence Association,whose members took part in a gun battle with the British Army last week (Sept. 7), has formed a common front with Mr. William Craig's Ulster Vanguard Movement and the Loyalist Association of Workers.
Observers say that if the three organisations can remain united, the British Government will be faced with the largest and most powerful group of militant loyalists since March this year.
The latest coalition between the three groups, as well as the gun battle in which two civilians were killed, have added to the alienation of the Protestant community and security forces.
The Protestant backlashes believed to be the direct result of the anger felt when the British Government assumed direct rule of Ulster in March. And British troops are now facing open hostility from angry Protestant mobs as well as the Catholics in the bitter sectarian conflict.
The UDA is spearheading the Protestant backlash. It's a well-organised, military style organisation which claims twenty-thousand members. The UDA is the latest in a long line of militant associations which says it protests Protestant against the Catholic IRA. It assumed dominance in Northern Ireland's Protestant politics when Britain suspended the Stormont Government.
The British appointed a special minister for Northern Ireland in a new attempt for peace, but as the shootings and bombings continued, and in spite of a shot-lived truce, the Protestant community increasingly put its faith in the men of the UDA.
The UDA responded. In May, is showed its strength when members erected street barricades in East Belfast in protest at the IRA "no go" sanctuaries in Londonderry to which the Army and police were denied access.
Paratroopers stormed the Protestant barricades and gunmen fired on the soldiers. Since that action, tension between the UDA and the British forces has increased steadily.
SYNOPSIS: March this year - as one-hundred-thousand Northern Ireland Protestants make their feelings known on the imposition of direct rule by Britain. At this stage, Britain had not yet taken control of Ulster and on hand to address the flag-waving mass, was Northern Ireland's Prime Minister, Brian Faulker. This consolidated the Ulster Defence Association's strength. The suspension of Stormont saw power slip from the politicians into the hands of men who carried guns, and who preached militancy... Brian Faulkner reflected the crowds- feelings.....
SOUND: "People of Dister, I'm speaking to you at this moment still as the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland."
The first confrontation between the UDA and British troops came in May when street barricades were thrown up in the strongly Protestant Willowdale area of Belfast. Protestant leaders said the barriers were in protest at the existence of IRA-controlled "no go" areas in Londonderry.
At first the British Government did nothing as UDA members paraded behind the barricades in masks, and military style uniforms. Then the Army acted.....
Having smashed the barricades, the British troops dispersed the UDA men in a brief skirmish..... It ???as the turning point in relations between the Protestants and the security forces.
As the moves and counter-moves in the search for peace ground on, so did the bombs and the bullets. And in line with all wars, it was the civilians who were hardest hit. In the wreckage of this building, six people died. And so, the barricades went up again...
By June, the Ulster Defence Association was openly displaying its strength. Hundreds marched openly through the streets, emphasising the Associations claim that it protects the Protestant community from IRA gunmen.
Tension has risen recently as the Army established itself more forcefully in Protestant areas, including searches for illegal arms. The security forces are also worried about a series of reprisal killings in which both Catholics and Protestants have been brutally murdered, sometimes after torture. This confrontation between the UDA and troops was only just Averted.....
Further trouble seemed certain. It came last week (September 7) in a gun battle in the Protestant Shankill road area of Belfast. Two civilians were killed. And judging by past performances, as well as this kind of training that UDA men undergo, further major trouble involving the UDA can be only a matter of time.