Loyalism in Development

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The planning for the Easter rebellion, or uprising (rising), has its origins in the secret, radical organisation called the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). The organization was founded in 1858 and though it had virtually stagnated by the start of the 20th century, most of its new and more radically nationalist membership would soon become the key organisers of the rebellion. In order to recruit a force large enough to challenge British military might, the IRB began to agitate for the founding of a military organisation following the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force. As such, leaders within the IRB encouraged the formation and recruited the leadership of the Irish Volunteers, which were officially formed in 1913. On Easter Monday, 24 April, 1916, around 1,800 volunteers led by Patrick Pearse and James Connolly seized the General Post Office and other key buildings around Dublin and proclaimed themselves to be the provisional Government of the Irish Republic. The rebels held their posts for one week before they surrendered, overwhelmed and outlasted by British Army reinforcements.



In 1919, the Irish Volunteers were officially renamed the Irish Republican Army – quickly to be known as simply, the IRA. According to the IRA and republican ideology, British forces in Ireland, which included the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), were now viewed as an occupying force, a force that the IRA intended to wage war against. Michael Collins, who after surviving the Easter Rising became a military commander within the Irish Volunteers, was made the IRA’s Adjutant General and Director of Organization of Intelligence, essentially giving him the position of commander. With this high-ranking position, and his post as the Minister of Finance in Dáil Éireann, Collins became the principle strategist and financier for the IRA. The first shots of the War of Independence were fired on 21 January 1919, the same day as the opening of the new Irish assembly in Dublin. On that day, an IRA unit shot dead two RIC constables, who were escorting a cart of explosives near a quarry in County Tipperary. The attack provided Collins with the model for the IRA’s ‘Flying Columns’ which were used to antagonize the RIC and British auxiliary forces throughout the war. In the eighteen-month long war over 500 soldiers and policemen and over 700 IRA members were killed. By the spring of 1921, both sides recognized that victory was unlikely and that the high losses and horrific violence had to end.



Faced with the wide-spread damage caused by almost two years of violent conflict, a truce was called as a prelude to negotiations between the British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, and the Irish team led by Michael Collins (representing the IRA) and Arthur Griffith (representing Sinn Féin). The opening of formal negotiations began at 10 Downing Street on 11 October 1921. On the 6 th of December, following drawn out negotiations, the Irish team were given an ultimatum, stating that a failure to accept the treaty as offered would result in an immediate resumption of a full scale attack by British forces. As a result of this declaration, the ‘Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland’ were signed by both delegations. The agreement, known as the

Anglo-Irish Treaty, secured the partition of Ireland which had been passed through the Government of Ireland Act the previous year. As such, there would be no Republic for the IRA and Sinn Féin. The treaty declared the creation of the Irish Free State – or Eire – a twenty-six county state with Dominion status similar to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The treaty meant the withdrawal of British troops and the creation of the Irish National Forces (Free State Army). The document also required a two-part oath for all new members of the Irish parliament – one oath to the Irish Free State, and the other to His Majesty King George V.



In December 1920 Britain passed the fourth Home Rule Bill, formally titled the Government of Ireland Act. This legislation divided Ireland into two constituent parts: Southern Ireland (26 counties) and Northern Ireland (six counties). Both regions would be self-governing dominions of Great Britain, London retaining control of significant policy areas like defence, currency, foreign affairs and trade. Partition was a both a compromise and an expediency. It was intended to implement Home Rule without inciting well-armed Loyalist paramilitary groups in Ulster. Michael Collins was aware that the settlement created with the Anglo-Irish Treaty was ultimately unsatisfactory but as the highest-ranking commander of the IRA he was also aware that a return to war would have disastrous consequences for a spent force, desperately short on men, arms, and energy. Once viewed as the man who brought the war to the British, he returned to Ireland with many denouncing him as a traitor who had sold out the Republic. After the establishment of a Provisional Government, a general election was held in June 1922. Pro-Treaty Sinn Féin won a majority 58 seats and anti-Treaty Sinn Féin won 35 seats. The republican movement was clearly split. Following the ratification of the Treaty by the Dublin parliament, and its electoral endorsement in June, pro-Treaty supporters began to build the Provisional Government. Demonstrating his continued support for the treaty, Michael Collins became the provisional commander of the Irish National Forces (Free State Army). After the election, the IRA split roughly fifty-fifty. Those who supported the treaty were subsumed into the Free State Army, and those opposed stayed with the IRA.


Ten days after the ending of the War of Independence, Eamon de Valera travelled to London as the President of Dáil Éireann for exploratory talks with the Prime Minister. He returned to Ireland convinced that a full Republic was not achievable and that any further settlement would institutionalize partition. As such, de Valera sent Collins in his place as the principle negotiator for the IRA. Through this action it was assured that Collins, not de Valera, would incur the blame for the perceived failures of the treaty. This political manoeuvring placed de Valera in prime position to resign his post as President and join the anti-Treaty republican forces. In March 1922, after establishing Cumann na Pobhlacta, the anti-Treaty Republican League, de Valera began to travel the country, speaking against the treaty and rallying anti- Treaty supporters. Buoyed by de Valera’s rhetoric, the IRA began to attack both British and Free State Forces. In April 1922, IRA forces seized the Four Courts in Dublin and set up their headquarters. Shortly after the general elections in June, the IRA assassinated a British Army official in London, and Collins was forced by British ultimatum to respond to the situation in the Four Courts. On 28 June, using two field guns on loan from the British, the Irish National Forces began bombarding the Four Courts, thus marking the start of the Irish Civil War.



It was a dark period following the partition of Ireland – a period that spanned the Irish War of Independence and the creation of Northern Ireland – that saw the worst Belfast rioting of the early 20th century. From the summer of 1920 to the


autumn of 1922, political violence in Belfast cost 465 people their lives, with over 1,000 wounded. This conflict started with two bouts of rioting in 1920. The first came in July when after the killing of a northern police officer in Cork, in the little slum streets of west and central Belfast, volleys of shots and stones were exchanged, 22 people were killed and hundreds wounded. Just over a month later on August 22, when another northern detective was assassinated by the IRA in Lisburn, there followed another ten days of sectarian violence in Belfast, with another 33 deaths. The rioting of this period resembled low-intensity warfare more than civil disturbances at times. ‘Belfast’s Bloody Sunday’ of July 10, 1921 for instance – in which 16 people were killed, 70 injured and 200 homes destroyed, saw the use on both sides (now organised into paramilitary groups) of rifles, machine guns and hand grenades as well as the customary stones and clubs. From this period also grew a great distrust between the Catholic population of Belfast and the new Northern Ireland security forces – the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Ulster Special Constabulary – who unlike their predecessors in the RIC were almost wholly Protestant. With the defeat of the IRA in the North by late 1922, violence, including rioting, eventually petered out. However, disturbances would again erupt from time to time in Belfast in the 1920s and 1930s. Some of these incidents –such as the 1932 Outdoor Relief riots actually saw Catholics and Protestants demonstrate (and fight) side by side in protest at the cutting of unemployment assistance. Depressingly often, however, violence would resume the old sectarian pattern. In 1935, after several months of rising tension, riots broke out during the Orange parades on 12th July. The majority of the 11 people killed in the 1935 riots were Protestants, but most of those forced from their homes (86%) and injured were Catholic.



The Border Campaign (12 December 1956 – 26 February 1962) was a guerrilla warfare campaign (codenamed Operation Harvest) carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) against targets in Northern Ireland, with the aim of overthrowing British rule there and creating a united Ireland. Popularly referred to as the Border Campaign, it was also referred to as the “Resistance Campaign” by some Irish republican activists. The campaign was a military failure, but for some of its members, the campaign was justified as it had kept the IRA engaged for another generation. While this was the third republican campaign against British rule in Ireland in the 20th century, it was the first where the focus of the whole IRA shifted decisively north. The first campaign took place during the Irish War of Independence and the second was from 1942–1944.


THE TURBULENT 1960s 1963 Terence O’Neill elected Prime minister of Northern Ireland. His social policies towards the Republic of Ireland are viewed by Unionists as nothing other than appeasement. 1965 Former anti-treaty IRA member, now Taoiseach, Sean Lemass visits O’Neill in Belfast. 1966 The recently reformed Ulster Volunteer Force sends telegram to O’Neill stating they had lost confidence in his leadership. 1966 UVF kill Catholic barman in Malvern Street attack. Gusty Spence convicted for the killing and sentenced to Life imprisonment. 1967 Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association formed to campaign for citizens’ rights. They are attacked by opposing Protestants in subsequent marches during 1968 and 1969. 1969 In August, British troops are deployed to Derry and Belfast to preserve law and order. The ‘Troubles’ begin.


New Prime Minister Terence O’Neill attempts to improve community relations. Taoiseach Sean Lemass visits Belfast at O’Neill’s invitation. Tensions rise and the reformed UVF carry out a series of attacks including the killing of 3 civilians. Often seen as the day the Troubles started. Confrontation between Police and Civil Rights protestors in Londonderry draws international attention. Officially recorded as the day the Troubles started. British Army is placed on active service in Londonderry and in Belfast the next day. Internment is introduced in an attempt to curb increased violence. Over three days, 22 people are killed. The most violent year of the Troubles with 323 civilians, 41 Police and 103 soldiers killed. Sunningdale Agreement on power-sharing signed and Executive is formed on 31 December.


1968 5 October

1969 14 August

1971 9 August




1974 May

Ulster Workers’ Council strike brings down the Executive. 33 are killed by Loyalist bombs in Dublin and Monaghan.

17 May

1976 10 August 1979 27 August

3 children killed sparks the formation of the Peace People.

IRA kills 18 British soldiers at Warrenpoint and Lord Mountbattan and 3 others at Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo.

1981 May-Aug

10 Republicans in Maze Prison H-blocks die on hunger strike.

1985 15 November

Anglo-Irish Agreement signed by Margaret Thatcher and Garret Fitzgerald.

1987 8 November

11 civilians killed by IRA at Enniskillen Remembrance Sunday commemorations.

1993 15 December

The Downing Street Declaration offers talks to paramilitaries if they end their campaign of violence.

1994 31 August 13 October

Provisional IRA announce ceasefire.

Combined Loyalist Military Command announce ceasefire. The Good Friday Agreement establishes a power-sharing Executive. The Real IRA bomb Omagh town centre killing 29 civilians – the worst single atrocity of the Troubles. The Police Service Northern Ireland replaces the Royal Ulster Constabulary. New Executive is formed following St. Andrews agreement in October 2006. The Patten Report recommends Policing reforms.


15 August

1999 2001



Victims of the conflict Between 1966 and 1999, 3,636 people died in the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’ (McKittrick et al., 1999). Irish republican paramilitary groups (including the PIRA) were responsible for 2,139 deaths (59%). Ulster loyalist paramilitary groups (including the UVF/RHC and UDA) were responsible for 1,050 (29%). The security forces were responsible for 367 deaths (10%). 80 individuals were killed by ‘Others’ (see McKittrick et al., 1999., p.1476). 2,037 of those who died in the conflict were civilians (56%). 509 were members of the RUC/UDR/RIR (14%). 503 were members of the British Army (14%). 392 republicans and 144 loyalists were also killed (11% and 4% respectively). More specifically, of these 144 loyalists, 50 were members of the UVF and 4 were members of the RHC. The UVF/RHC were responsible for 547 deaths (15% of all deaths) (534 attributed to the UVF and 13 deaths to the RHC). Origins of Long Kesh Detention Centre and the Maze Prison At the outbreak of the ‘Troubles’ in the 1960s, (male) political prisoners tended to be housed in Crumlin Road jail (including Gusty Spence and eight other loyalists in the aftermath of the murder of Peter Ward in Malvern Street in 1966). However, the levels of violence in Northern Ireland were such in the early 1970s that prisons such as Crumlin Road (A-wing) were becoming overcrowded (McAtackney, 2008), particularly after the introduction of internment without trial (codenamed Operation Demetrius by the British Army) on 9th/10th August 1971. The first cohort of internees were taken to an overcrowded Crumlin Road jail, but in September 1971 they were moved to the newly built Long Kesh Detention Centre – which was a 26 acre site LK was on a 360 acre site on a former RAF base outside the small village of Maze, near Lisburn (approximately 10 miles outside of Belfast, see Dwiggins, 2016). At the time Long Kesh had the look (and feel) of a ‘Prisoner of War’ camp from the Second World War – this was related to the use of guard towers with searchlights, the corrugated iron perimeter fence with barbed wire, and most particularly, the use of Nissen huts as accommodation for prisoners (see Green, 1998). These Nissen huts were prefabricated steel structures designed in a half cylinder shape to act as a bomb shelter – they were first used as housing for British troops during the First World War and derived their name from their designer, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Norman Nissen. Each compound at Long Kesh consisted of four huts; up to two and a half were sleeping quarters, the rest housed cooking facilities, gym and a snooker table or some other recreational facility. There was also a separate study hut used for education purposes.


Until 1972, those prisoners held for political reasons were held in the exact same conditions as those who were non-political prisoners – but after a hunger-strike in Crumlin Road jail to have their political status recognised, ‘Special Category’ status was introduced for those found guilty of a ‘terror’ related offence. Special Category status meant that political prisoners could wear their own clothes, were held in segregated compounds depending on their paramilitary attachment, the Prison Authorities recognised the leadership structure of the armed groups within the prison, and prisoners could also hold lectures, congregate, drill and have much freedom within their own space and own activity in prison (McEvoy, 1998). By the beginning of 1973, 60 ‘Special Category’ loyalist prisoners were sent to the new Long Kesh facility (Green, 1998). While there was little segregation between loyalist prisoners when they first arrived at Long Kesh, in 1973 the UDA prisoners moved into their own compound away from the UVF/RHC. By March 1974, there were 11 compounds in the prison housing approximately 1,200 prisoners (Green, 1998). The UVF/RHC had a strict leadership hierarchy in Long Kesh, with a Commanding Officer overall and Officer Commanding (OC) for each compound. Each compound also had welfare and education officers and quartermasters (Green, 1998). Disciple and routine were encouraged by the leadership. This is highlighted by the UVF/ RHC standing orders for their volunteers at Long Kesh: • Reveille (wake-up call) at 0800; • 0900 – tidy personal areas and ensure personal cleanliness; • 10-1200 – all personnel detailed to duties; • 12-1400 – Dinner and rest period, all cooking and cleaning utensils to be cleaned by 1400; • 1400-1600 – All personnel detailed to duties; • 1600 – beds may be made down; • Volunteers in respective huts at 2100 hours prompt and will stand by doors for a headcount. Noise in huts to be kept to a minimum; and • 2400 – lights out, no talking (see Green, 1998).


More specific instructions were also given to volunteers:

Cubicle Cleanliness • Regulation bed-checks to be made each morning; • Cubicles to be brushed, mopped out and generally tidied daily; • Waste bins and ashtrays to be emptied; • Cubicles to be tidied after rest periods etc; Volunteers shall be responsible for personal and cubicle cleanliness. Orderly Duties • Centre of hut to be brushed, mopped out and kept tidy at all times. This includes all tables in centre of hut, chairs being replaced after use, radio and record player stands etc; • Area at top of hut beside the boiler and tables, bread shelves and stores cabinet must be clean at all times and to be given regular attention by the Hut Orderlies. All volunteers to ensure that they do not leave tables, cabinet or centre of hut untidy at any time. Clean up after use of tables etc. • Hut store to be kept in order with all mops and brushes, etc., being accounted for. Orderlies are responsible for stores. • Indoor toilets to be kept scrupulously clean at all times. General Standing Orders • Noise in huts to be kept to a minimum – no whistling or shouting; • Only OC or Hut Sergeant to operate lights, heaters, radio or TV; • Lights out at midnight – no talking after lights out; • Do not litter floors – use ashtrays or waste bins; • No alterations to cubicle arrangements without OC’s permission; • When any volunteer is ill, it must be reported to OC; • No volunteer is to add or remove anything from the hut notice board; • All volunteers must keep abreast of any new notices that appear;

• Beds to be made down before 11pm every night; • Beds must not be made down before 4pm every day. Any volunteer who is in doubt about rules must check with the hut Sergeant.

Ԁ These are the standing orders taken directly from the UVF/ RHC Passchendaele Hut.


Weekend Orderlies • Two orderlies will be detailed duties every weekend (Saturday and Sunday) on a rota basis; • All orderly duties are to be attended just as permanent orderlies; • Any doubts about duties see the hut Sergeant; • Tea bags and sugar rations to be distributed every Sunday – seven tea bags per man per day, one pound of sugar per man per week (2lb bag per cubicle); • Centre of hut to be brushed and mopped out last every night. All volunteers must assist the orderlies in keeping the hut clean and tidy. Despite the harsh conditions (in terms of poor food, standards of health etc.) and the fact that prisoners were meant to be restricted in relation to communicating with one another, former loyalist prisoners have spoken of their sense of camaraderie and comradeship in prison (Green, 1998; Smith, 2014). Education classes and lectures were also promoted, as were sporting activities so that prisoners could occupy their time and retain a degree of physical fitness. The production of handicrafts also became a very important practice for many prisoners, with woodcraft and leather work becoming particularly significant (Hinson, 2017). Although the leaderships of the various loyalist and republican paramilitaries had agreed to a ‘no conflict’ policy in Crumlin Road jail at the outbreak of the ‘Troubles, and a ‘Camp Council’ was formed in Long Kesh to involve dialogue between the various leaderships to reduce incidents of violence and encourage lobbying on common points of interest to all prisoners – the October 1974 burning down of most of Long Kesh by republican inmates worsened relations between the factions (loyalist compounds 11, 12 and 19 were relatively unscathed). Segregation between loyalist and republican inmates was unsurprisingly increased after the fire. But even more significant was the decision by the British Government in November 1975 to end ‘Special Category’ status and introduce the policy of ‘criminalisation’ – this was implemented after the 1975 Gardiner report. Although it meant that internment without trial was abandoned, from March 1st 1976, anyone convicted of a ‘terror’ offence would be treated in the same way as all other prisoners; therefore, prisoners were compelled to work and to wear a prison uniform like ‘ordinary decent criminals’ (ODCs). The British Government were thus now refusing to recognise any form of political status (McEvoy, 1998). In order to implement this new policy in 1976, a new high security facility known as the Maze Prison was opened in March of that year next to the Long Kesh site. The new prison contained eight identical cell blocks, in the shape of the letter ‘H’ (hence they became known as the H-blocks). The decision by the British Government to end their recognition of political status (of loyalists and republicans) would


ultimately lead to the blanket protest (by republicans and some loyalists), the ‘no- wash’ protest (republicans), and the hunger-strikes of 1980-1981 which would lead to ten Irish republican prisoners including Bobby Sands, starving themselves to death. In the aftermath of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement, the Maze Prison was closed in July 2000. Just before closing, 80 loyalist and republican prisoners were released under the terms of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement (and 16 more were transferred to Maghaberry Prison). The H-Blocks at the prison had once housed In 1968 prior to the conflict beginning, the prison population in Northern Ireland was only 727; but by 1972 it was 1,174 and by 1979 3,000 people were in jail, mostly as a result of their involvement as part of either loyalist or republican paramilitary groups (see Dwyer, 2007, p.783). 1978/1979 was when the prison population was at its peak (Butler, 2016). Indeed, over the course of the ‘Troubles’, political prisoners were approximately two-thirds of the total prison population in Northern Ireland (McEvoy, 2001). The number of prison staff also grew exponentially to cater with the huge increase in prisoners – from 292 prison staff in 1969 to 2,184 in 1976 (McEvoy; 2001; Butler, 2016). Long-term committals in terms of prisoners were only 2% in the late 1960s, but by 1977 long-term committals had risen to 29%. Indeed, by 1987 ‘lifers’ accounted for 28% of all sentenced committals and 40% of those imprisoned for political reasons (Butler, 2016). It is interesting to note that at the end of 1968 there were only 11 ‘lifers’ in prison in Northern Ireland, but ten years later in 1978 there were 221; by March 1987 there were 449 loyalist and republican ‘lifers’ (Green, 1998). Yet there is no agreed upon figure of how many paramilitary or politically motivated prisoners there were in Northern Ireland during the conflict. Estimates suggest there were 25,000 republicans and loyalists incarcerated for a politically motivated offence (McAuley et al., 2009; Shirlow, 2018), with up to one-third of these prisoners being members of loyalist organisations (McAuley et al., 2009). The ‘From Prison to Peace’ resource estimates that between 18,000 republicans and between 5,000-10,000 loyalists went through the prison system between 1969 and 1998 (CFNI, 2011). No rationale is provided for the less accurate figure given for loyalists, and there is also no available breakdown in figures as to how many of these loyalist prisoners were affiliated either to the UDA/UFF or the UVF/RHC (nor to how many prisoners were incarcerated per organisation per year). It is estimated that alongside those imprisoned, there were between 100,000- 200,000 family members of politically motivated prisoners – indicating that a sizeable minority of the population were directly impacted upon by the experience of incarceration. more than 1,700 prisoners at any one time. Numbers of prisoners during the conflict


There is some limited data on the paramilitary affiliations of life prisoners for a period of time during the conflict. According to Steve Bruce (1992, p.298), the following information applies to paramilitary life-sentence prisoners between 1974 and 1990:

• PIRA – 136; • INLA – 15 (Total republican – 151); • UDA – 64; • UFF – 5; • UVF – 107; • RHC – 23; • Other loyalist – 14 (Total loyalist – 191); • No organisational affiliation - 37

It should also be noted that there were 61 prisoners ‘Detained at the Pleasure of the British Secretary of State’ who were under 18 years of age. The data indicates that the UVF had almost twice as many prisoners serving life sentences during this period than the UDA. UVF/RHC prisoners were known as the ‘invisible battalion’ within the organisation (Mulvenna, 2016). Prison release was a crucial, though controversial, aspect of the 1998 Good Friday/ Belfast Agreement (supported by 31% of Catholics and 3% of Protestants at the time, see NILT, 2000; Mitchell, 2008). To date 450 paramilitary prisoners have been released under the Agreement - 196 Loyalist, 242 Republican and 12 non-aligned (Dwyer, 2007; McEvoy and Shirlow, 2009). Prisoners were released under the Agreement on ‘license’ – which meant if they reoffended in any way, they could be rearrested. But it should be noted that more than 15 years after the Agreement, less than 5% of these politically motivated former prisoners have returned to prison for politically motivated offences (McEvoy, 2015). This compares to the reoffending (recidivism) rate of ‘ordinary’ criminals in Northern Ireland which is approximately 50%. Organisations such as EPIC (Ex-Prisoners Interpretative Centre), REACT and the ACT initiative provide support to former UVF and RHC prisoners to assist them in transitioning away from the structures of armed groups. Former UVF and RHC prisoners have also played constructive roles in promoting restorative justice practices as part of the work of Northern Ireland Alternatives. The first organisation to support loyalist prisoners however was the Orange Cross which was established in 1966. The Loyalist Prisoners Welfare Association (LPWA) also played a significant role in supporting loyalist prisoners, both during their time in prison, and also upon their release.


Issues impacting upon ex-prisoners Research has found that prisoners with a conflict related conviction are three times more likely to be in receipt of working-age benefits and are also three and half times more likely to be unemployed than those without such a conviction (Shirlow, 2019). Issues of unemployment were in fact found to be the most significant in relation to the physical and mental ill-health of ex-prisoners. The use of medication for depression is nearly twice as high for unemployed politically motivated ex- prisoners when compared to those in employment (Shirlow, 2019). Ex-prisoners also tend to have difficulties with family breakdown, travelling abroad and gaining insurance as a result of their conviction. The General Health Questionnaire method found that 38% of loyalist ex-prisoners scored higher than the normal threshold for emotional distress symptoms, and almost 40% said there were times when they did not wish to live any more. These mental health issues were also found to be linked to alcohol dependency (Shirlow, 2014). The UVF/RHC and the political process The UVF/RHC had called a ceasefire in November 1973 and were engaged in talks with political representatives and republicans (Cusack and McDonald, 2007). In April 1974, then British Home Secretary Merlyn Rees de-proscribed the UVF (and Sinn Féin) to help bring them into the political process. At this point in time UVF prisoners, in particular, were engaged in conversations around a more peaceful political dispensation for Northern Ireland, including advocating a Bill of Rights which would protect the rights of all citizens (Novosel, 2013). The UVF aligned Volunteer Political Party (VPP) was therefore established in June 1974 with Ken Gibson as the party Chairman. In the Westminster election of October 1974, Gibson stood for the VPP in the West Belfast Parliamentary Constituency and received 2,690 votes – this vote paled in comparison to the vote gained by Ulster Unionist Party candidate Jonny McQuade (who received more than 16,000 votes), and the poor electoral result led the UVF to abandon – for the meantime – its foray into politics. But education and politicisation had been promoted among UVF/RHC prisoners from the first arrival into Crumlin Road jail, and subsequently Long Kesh – with Gusty Spence often probing new arrivals with the question ‘Why are you here?’ to ascertain their grasp of the complexities of Irish history and the current political situation (Mulvenna, 2016; Edwards, 2017). Such a politicisation process amongst prisoners in Long Kesh would lay the foundations for the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) to emerge in 1979 (though there had been a Progressive Unionist Group formed in 1977). In 1998, the PUP would secure the election of two members, David Ervine and Billy Hutchinson (both former UVF prisoners), as members of the newly created Northern Ireland Assembly.


















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