Ulster Volunteer Force
|Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)|
|Participant in The Troubles|
The UVF emblem
|Active||May 1966 – present (ended armed campaign in May 2007)|
|Northern Ireland (mostly)
Republic of Ireland
|Allies||Red Hand Commando|
|Opponents||Irish republicans, Irish nationalists|
The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) is a loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland. It was formed in late 1965 or early 1966 and named after the Ulster Volunteer Force of 1913. Its first leader was Gusty Spence, a former British soldier. The group's volunteers undertook an armed campaign of almost thirty years during The Troubles. It declared a ceasefire in 1994, although sporadic attacks continued until it officially ended its armed campaign in May 2007.
Noted for secrecy and a policy of limited, selective membership, the UVF's declared goals were to combat Irish republicanism – particularly republican paramilitaries, and to maintain Northern Ireland's status as part of the United Kingdom. The vast majority (more than two-thirds) of its 481 known victims were Catholic civilians. During the conflict, its deadliest attack in Northern Ireland was the 1971 McGurk's Bar bombing, which killed fifteen civilians. Since 1969 the group had also carried out attacks in the Republic of Ireland. The deadliest of these were the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, which killed 33 civilians, the highest number of deaths in a single day during the conflict. The no-warning car bombings had been carried out by units from the Belfast and Mid-Ulster Brigades. The Mid-Ulster Brigade was also responsible for the 1975 Miami Showband ambush, in which three members of the popular Irish cabaret band The Miami Showband were shot dead at a bogus military checkpoint by gunmen dressed in British Army uniforms. Two UVF men were accidentally blown up in this attack. The UVF's last major attack was the 1994 Loughinisland massacre, in which its members shot dead six Catholic civilians in a rural pub.
The group is a designated terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom and a proscribed organisation in the Republic of Ireland.
Brigade Staff 
The UVF's leadership is based in Belfast and known as the Brigade Staff. It comprises high-ranking officers under a Chief of Staff or Brigadier-General. With a few exceptions, such as Mid-Ulster brigadier Billy Hanna (a native of Lurgan), the Brigade Staff members have been from the Shankill Road or the neighbouring Woodvale area to the west. The Brigade Staff's former headquarters were situated in rooms above "The Eagle" chip shop located on the Shankill Road at its junction with Spier's Place. The chip shop has since been closed down.
In 1972, the UVF's imprisoned leader Gusty Spence was at liberty for four months following a staged kidnapping by UVF volunteers. During this time he restructured the organisation into brigades, battalions, companies, platoons and sections. These were all subordinate to the Brigade Staff. The incumbent Chief of Staff, is alleged to be John "Bunter" Graham, referred to by Martin Dillon as "Mr. F". Graham has held the position since he assumed office in 1976.
The UVF's nickname is "Blacknecks", derived from their uniform of black polo neck jumper, black trousers, black leather jacket, black forage cap, along with the UVF badge and belt. This uniform, based on those of the original UVF, was introduced in the early 1970s.
Its motto is "For God and Ulster".
Chiefs of Staff 
- Gusty Spence (1966–1966). Whilst remaining de jure UVF leader after he was jailed for murder, he no longer acted as the Chief of Staff
- Sam "Bo" McClelland (1966–1973) Described as a "tough disciplinarian", he was personally appointed by Spence to succeed him as Chief of Staff, due to his having served in the Korean War with Spence's former regiment, the Royal Ulster Rifles. He was interned in late 1973, although by that stage the de facto Chief of Staff was his successor, Jim Hanna.
- Jim Hanna (1973 – April 1974) Hanna was allegedly shot dead by the UVF as a suspected informer.
- Ken Gibson (1974) Gibson was the Chief of Staff during the Ulster Workers' Council Strike in May 1974.
- Unnamed Chief of Staff (1974 – October 1975). Leader of the Young Citizen Volunteers (YCV), the youth wing of the UVF. Assumed command after a coup by hardliners in 1974. He, along with the other hawkish Brigade Staff members were overthrown by Tommy West and a new Brigade Staff of "moderates" in a counter-coup supported by Gusty Spence. He left Northern Ireland after his removal from power.
- Tommy West (October 1975 – 1976) A former British Army soldier, West was already the Chief of Staff at the time UVF volunteer Noel "Nogi" Shaw was killed by Lenny Murphy in November 1975 as part of an internal feud.
- John "Bunter" Graham, also referred to as "Mr. F" (1976–present)
Aim and strategy 
The UVF's goal was to combat Irish republicanism – particularly the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) – and maintain Northern Ireland's status as part of the United Kingdom. Most of its victims were Irish Catholic civilians, who were often chosen at random. Whenever it claimed responsibility for its attacks, the UVF usually claimed that those targeted were IRA members or IRA sympathisers. Other times, attacks on Catholic civilians were claimed as "retaliation" for IRA actions, since the IRA drew most of its support from the Catholic community. Such retaliation was seen as both collective punishment and an attempt to weaken the IRA's support; it was thought that 'fear of retaliation' would make the Catholic community rein in the IRA. Many retaliatory attacks on Catholics were claimed using the covername "Protestant Action Force" (PAF), which first appeared in Autumn 1974. They always signed their statements with the fictitious name "Captain William Johnston".
Like the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), the UVF's modus operandi involved assassinations, mass shootings, bombings and kidnappings. It used sub machine-guns, assault rifles, pistols, grenades (including homemade grenades), incendiary bombs, booby trap bombs and car bombs. Referring to its activity in the early and mid-1970s, journalist Ed Moloney described no-warning pub bombings as the UVF's "forte". Members were trained in bomb-making and it developed home-made explosives. In the late summer and autumn of 1973 the UVF detonated more bombs than the UDA and IRA combined, and by the time of the group's temporary ceasefire in late November it had been responsible for over 200 explosions that year. However, from 1977 bombs largely disappeared from the UVF's arsenal owing to a lack of explosives and bomb-makers, plus a conscious decision to abandon their use in favour of more contained methods. The UVF did not return to regular bombings until the early 1990s when it obtained a quantity of the mining explosive Powergel.
The 1960s 
The year 1966 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising — when Irish republicans seized key buildings in Dublin and declared an independent Irish Republic. On 8 March 1966, a group of ex-Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteers planted a bomb that destroyed Nelson's Pillar in Dublin. On 17 April, large republican parades took place in Belfast to mark the anniversary. Some unionists and loyalists feared there would be a "revival" of the IRA. Since 1964 there had also been a growing campaign for equality reforms in Northern Ireland. This was led by groups like Campaign for Social Justice (CSJ), which became the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA). They sought to end the discrimination suffered by Catholics in housing, employment and through gerrymandering. Prime Minister Terence O'Neill was willing to accept some of the demands. The unionists, who were overwhelmingly Protestant, feared losing their grip on power.
On 7 May, a group of loyalists led by Gusty Spence petrol bombed a Catholic-owned pub on the loyalist Shankill Road, Belfast. The ensuing fire swept to the house next door, killing the elderly Protestant widow who lived there. Spence, a former British soldier, was from the Shankill Road. On 21 May, the group (calling itself the "Ulster Volunteer Force") issued a statement:
From this day, we declare war against the Irish Republican Army and its splinter groups. Known IRA men will be executed mercilessly and without hesitation. Less extreme measures will be taken against anyone sheltering or helping them, but if they persist in giving them aid, then more extreme methods will be adopted... we solemnly warn the authorities to make no more speeches of appeasement. We are heavily armed Protestants dedicated to this cause.
On 27 May, four UVF men were sent to kill an IRA volunteer, Leo Martin, who lived on Falls Road. Unable to find their target, the men drove around in search of a Catholic. They shot dead John Scullion, a civilian, as he walked home. Spence later wrote "At the time, the attitude was that if you couldn't get an IRA man you should shoot a Taig, he's your last resort".
On 26 June, the group shot dead a Catholic civilian and wounded two others as they left a pub on Malvern Street, Belfast. Two days later, the government of Northern Ireland declared the UVF illegal. The shootings led to Spence being arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommended minimum sentence of twenty years. Spence appointed Samuel McClelland as UVF Chief of Staff in his stead.
By 1969, the Catholic civil rights movement had escalted its protest campaign. In March and April that year, the UVF took part in a string of bomb attacks on electricity and water installations in Northern Ireland, some of which left much of Belfast without power and water. It was hoped that this would be blamed on the IRA and would halt the equality reforms promised by Terence O'Neill. These reforms would have ended discrimination against Catholics. The attacks were carried out with help from the short-lived Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV), another loyalist paramilitary group. The UPV was the paramilitary wing of the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee, founded by Ian Paisley. Many of those involved were members of both groups. There were bombings on 30 March 4 April, 20 April 24 and 26 April.
On 12 August 1969, the "Battle of the Bogside" began in Derry. This was a large, three-day riot between Irish nationalists and the police (RUC). In response to events in Derry, Irish nationalists held protests throughout Northern Ireland, some of which became violent. In Belfast, loyalists responded by attacking nationalist districts. Eight people were shot dead and hundreds were injured. Scores of houses and businesses were burnt-out, most of them owned by Catholics. Thousands of families, mostly Catholics, were forced to flee their homes and refugee camps were set up in the Republic of Ireland. This is generally seen as the beginning of the Troubles. The UVF escalated its violent campaign against both nationalists and (more often) Catholic civilians.
The UVF had launched its first attack in the Republic of Ireland on 5 August 1969, when it bombed the RTÉ Television Centre in Dublin. There were further attacks in the Republic between October and December 1969. In October a UVF member was killed by the bomb he was planting at Ballyshannon power station. In December the UVF detonated a car bomb near the Garda central detective bureau and telephone exchange headquarters in Dublin. The IRA was largely inactive at this time. However, in December 1969 the group split into the Provisional IRA and Official IRA. Both groups began armed campaigns against the British security forces and Government of Northern Ireland.
The early to mid-1970s 
The UVF's attacks were aimed at Catholics, in what it called retaliation for attacks on Protestants by the Irish republican groups. As the violence in Northern Ireland began to escalate in the early 1970s the UVF's attacks became more random and lethal. One example of this is the McGurk's Bar bombing in the New Lodge area of Belfast on 4 December 1971, which killed fifteen Catholic civilians. The attack was initially blamed on republican paramilitaries by the authorities and media but the UVF later admitted responsibility. On 23 October 1972, the UVF carried out an armed raid against King's Park camp, a UDR/Territorial Army depot in Lurgan. They managed to procure a large cache of weapons and ammunition including self-loading rifles, Browning pistols, and Sterling submachine guns. Twenty tons of ammonium nitrate was also stolen from the Belfast docks. Two UVF units from the Belfast and the Mid-Ulster brigades were responsible for the bombs in Dublin and Monaghan of 17 May 1974 when thirty-three people were killed and close to 300 injured. The relatives of some of the victims believe the attacks were carried out with the assistance of British Intelligence. The 2003 Barron Report, however, concluded that the Monaghan bombing was perpetrated solely by the Mid-Ulster Brigade.
The Mid-Ulster Brigade 
The UVF's Mid-Ulster Brigade was founded in 1972 in Lurgan by Billy Hanna, a captain in the UDR and a member of the Brigade Staff, who served as the brigade's commander until his shooting death in July 1975. From that time until the early 1990s, the Mid-Ulster Brigade was led by Robin "the Jackal" Jackson, who then passed the leadership to Billy Wright. Hanna and Jackson have both been implicated by journalist Joe Tiernan, and RUC Special Patrol Group (SPG) officer John Weir as having led one of the units that bombed Dublin. Jackson was allegedly the hitman who shot Hanna dead outside his home in Lurgan, and subsequently took over his command.
The brigade formed part of the Glenanne gang, a loose alliance of loyalist assassins which the Pat Finucane Centre has linked to 87 killings in the 1970s. The gang comprised, in addition to the UVF, rogue elements of the UDR, RUC, SPG, and the regular Army, all acting allegedly under the direction of British Military Intelligence and/or RUC Special Branch.
Mid to late-1970s 
In 1974, hardliners staged a coup and took over the Brigade Staff. This resulted in a lethal upsweep of sectarian killings and internecine feuding with both the UDA and within the UVF itself. Some of the new Brigade Staff members bore nicknames such as "Big Dog" and "Smudger". Beginning in 1975, recruitment to the UVF, which until then had been solely by invitation, was now left to the discretion of local units.
The UVF's Mid-Ulster Brigade carried out further attacks during this same period. These included the Miami Showband killings of 31 July 1975 – when three members of the popular showband from the Republic of Ireland were killed having been stopped at a fake British Army checkpoint outside of Newry in County Down. Two members of the group survived the attack and later testified against those responsible. Two UVF members, Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville, were accidentally killed by their own bomb while carrying out this attack. Two of those later convicted (James McDowell and Thomas Crozier) were also serving members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), a part-time, locally recruited regiment of the British Army.
From late 1975 to mid-1977, a unit of the UVF dubbed the Shankill Butchers (a group of UVF men based on Belfast's Shankill Road) carried out a series of sectarian murders of Catholic civilians. Six of the victims were abducted at random, then beaten and tortured before having their throats slashed. This gang was led by Lenny Murphy. He was shot dead by the IRA in November 1982, four months after his release from the Maze Prison.
The group had been proscribed in July 1966, but this ban was lifted on 4 April 1974 by Merlyn Rees, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in an effort to bring the UVF into the democratic process. A political wing was formed in June 1974, the Volunteer Political Party led by UVF Chief of Staff Ken Gibson, which contested West Belfast in the October 1974 General Election, polling 2,690 votes (6%). The UVF spurned the government efforts however and continued killing. Colin Wallace, part of the intelligence apparatus of the British Army, asserted in an internal memo in 1975 that MI6 and RUC Special Branch formed a pseudo-gang within the UVF, designed to engage in violence and to subvert moves of the UVF towards the political process. Captain Robert Nairac of 14 Intelligence Company was alleged to have been involved in many acts of UVF violence. The UVF was banned again on 3 October 1975 and two days later twenty-six suspected UVF members were arrested in a series of raids. The men were tried and in March 1977 were sentenced to an average of twenty-five years each.
In October 1975, after staging a counter-coup, the Brigade Staff acquired a new leadership of moderates with Tommy West serving as the Chief of Staff. These men had overthrown the "hawkish" officers, who had called for a "big push", which meant an increase in violent attacks, earlier in the same month. In fact, the UVF was behind the deaths of seven civilians in a series of attacks on 2 October. The hawks had been ousted by those in the UVF who were unhappy with their political and military strategy. The new Brigade Staff's aim was to carry out attacks against known republicans rather than Catholic civilians. This had been thoroughly endorsed by Gusty Spence who issued a statement asking all UVF volunteers to support the new regime. The UVF's activities in the last years of the decade were increasingly being curtailed by the number of UVF members who were sent to prison. Indeed, the number of killings in Northern Ireland had decreased from 300 per year during the period between 1973 and 1976 to just under 100 in the years 1977–1981. In 1976, Tommy West was replaced with "Mr. F" who is alleged to be John "Bunter" Graham and remains the incumbent Chief of Staff as of 2012. West died in 1980.
The early to mid-1980s 
In the 1980s, the UVF was greatly reduced by a series of police informers. The damage from security service informers started in 1983 with "supergrass" Joseph Bennett's information which led to the arrest of fourteen senior figures. In 1984, they attempted to kill the northern editor of the Sunday World, Jim Campbell after he had exposed the paramilitary activities of Mid-Ulster brigadier Robin Jackson. By the mid-1980s, a Loyalist paramilitary-style organisation called Ulster Resistance was formed on 10 November 1986 by Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Peter Robinson of the DUP, and Ivan Foster. The initial aim of Ulster Resistance was to bring an end to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Loyalists were successful in importing arms into Northern Ireland. The weapons were Palestine Liberation Organisation arms captured by the Israelis, sold to Armscor, the South African state-owned company which, in defiance of the 1977 United Nations arms embargo, set about making South Africa self-sufficient in military hardware. The arms were divided between the UVF, the UDA (the largest loyalist group) and Ulster Resistance.
The arms are thought to have consisted of:
- 200 Czech Sa vz. 58 assault rifles,
- 90 Browning pistols,
- 500 RGD-5 fragmentation grenades,
- 30,000 rounds of ammunition and
- 12 RPG-7 rocket launchers and 150 warheads.
The UVF used this new infusion of arms to escalate their campaign of sectarian assassinations. This era also saw a more widespread targeting on the UVF's part of IRA and Sinn Féin members, beginning with the killing of senior IRA member Larry Marley and a failed attempt on the life of a leading republican which left three Catholic civilians dead.
The late 1980s and early 1990s 
The UVF also attacked republican paramilitaries and their political activists. These attacks were stepped up in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The largest death toll was on 3 March 1991 when the UVF killed IRA members John Quinn, Dwayne O'Donnell and Malcolm Nugent, and civilian Thomas Armstrong in the car park next to Boyle's Bar, Cappagh. Republicans had responded to the attacks by assassinating UVF leaders, including John Bingham, William "Frenchie" Marchant, Trevor King and, allegedly, Leslie Dallas. The UVF also killed republicans James Burns, Liam Ryan and Larry Marley. According to Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN), the UVF killed 17 active and four former republican paramilitaries. CAIN also states that Republicans killed 13 UVF members.
According to journalist and author Ed Moloney the UVF campaign in Mid Ulster in this period "indisputably shattered Republican morale", and put the leadership of the republican movement under intense pressure to "do something".
1994 ceasefire 
In 1990 the UVF joined the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) and indicated its acceptance of moves towards peace. However, the year leading up to the loyalist ceasefire, which took place shortly after the Provisional IRA ceasefire, saw some of the worst sectarian killings carried out by loyalists during the Troubles. On 18 June 1994, UVF members machine-gunned a pub in Loughinisland, County Down on the basis that its customers were watching the Republic of Ireland national football team playing in the World Cup on television and were therefore assumed to be Catholics. The gunmen shot dead six people and injured five.
The UVF agreed to a ceasefire in October 1994.
Post-ceasefire activities 
More militant members of the UVF, led by Billy Wright who disagreed with the ceasefire, broke away to form the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). This development came soon after the UVF's Brigade Staff in Belfast had stood down Wright and the Portadown unit of the Mid-Ulster Brigade, on 2 August 1996, for the killing of a Catholic taxi driver near Lurgan during Drumcree disturbances.
There followed years of violence between the two organisations. In January 2000 UVF Mid-Ulster brigadier Richard Jameson was shot dead by a LVF gunman which led to an escalation of the UVF/LVF feud. The UVF was also clashing with the UDA in the summer of 2000. The feud with the UDA ended in December following seven deaths. Veteran anti-UVF campaigner Raymond McCord, whose son, Raymond Jr., a Protestant, was beaten to death by UVF men in 1997, estimates the UVF has killed more than thirty people since its 1994 ceasefire, most of them Protestants. The feud between the UVF and the LVF erupted again in the summer of 2005. The UVF killed four men in Belfast and trouble ended only when the LVF announced that it was disbanding in October of that year.
On 14 September 2005, following serious loyalist rioting during which dozens of shots were fired at riot police, the Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain announced that the British government no longer recognised the UVF ceasefire.
On 2 September 2006, BBC News reported the UVF may be intending to re-enter dialogue with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, with a view to decommissioning of their weapons. This move comes as the organisation holds high level discussions about their future.
On 3 May 2007, following recent negotiations between the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and with Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde, the UVF made a statement that they would transform to a "non-military, civilianised" organisation. This was to take effect from midnight. They also stated that they would retain their weaponry but put them beyond reach of normal volunteers. Their weapons stock-piles are to be retained under the watch of the UVF leadership.
In 2008, a loyalist splinter group calling itself the "Real UVF" emerged briefly to make threats against Sinn Féin in Co. Fermanagh.
In the twentieth IMC report, the group was said to be continuing to put its weapons "beyond reach", (in the group's own words) to downsize, and reduce the criminality of the group. The report added that individuals, some current and some former members, in the group have, without the orders from above, continued to "localised recruitment", and although some continued to try and acquire weapons, including a senior member, most forms of crime had fallen, including shootings and assaults. The group concluded a general acceptance of the need to decommission, though there was no conclusive proof of moves towards this end.
In June 2009 the UVF formally decommissioned their weapons in front of independent witnesses as a formal statement of decommissioning was read by Dawn Purvis and Billy Hutchinson. The IICD confirmed that "substantial quantities of firearms, ammunition, explosives and explosive devices" had been decommissioned and that for the UVF and RHC, decommissioning had been completed. On 30 May 2010, however, the UVF was believed to have carried out the shotgun killing of RHC member Bobby Moffett on the Shankill Road in broad daylight. The shooting raised questions over the future of the PUP.
On 28 May 2010, the UVF was severely criticised over the murder of Moffett. The Independent Monitoring Commission was highly critical of the leadership for having condoned and even sanctioned the attack, in contrast to praise bestowed on the Brigade Staff for a moderating influence during the marching season. The Progressive Unionist Party's condemnation, and Dawn Purvis and other leaders' resignations as a response to the Moffett shooting, were also noted. Eleven months later, a 40-year old man was arrested and charged with the attempted murder of the UVF's alleged second-in-command Harry Stockman, described by the media as a "senior Loyalist figure". Fifty-year old Stockman was stabbed more than 15 times in a supermarket in the Greater Shankill area; the attack was believed to have been linked to the Moffett killing. However, public opinion suggests that the stabbing was a personal vendetta and any connection being made to the Moffett case was simply a fictitious tale of revenge.
On the night of 20 June 2011, riots involving 500 people erupted in the Short Strand area of East Belfast. They were blamed by the PSNI on members of the UVF, who also said UVF guns had been used to try to kill police officers. The UVF leader in East Belfast, who is popularly known as the "Beast of the East" and "Ugly Doris" also known as by real name Stephen Matthews, ordered the attack on Catholic homes and a church in the Catholic enclave of the Short Strand. This was in retaliation for attacks on Loyalist homes the previous weekend and after a young girl was hit in the face with a brick by Republicans. A dissident Republican was arrested for "the attempted murder of police officers in east Belfast" after shots were fired upon the police.
During the Belfast City Hall flag protests of 2012 – 2013, senior UVF members were confirmed to have actively been involved in orchestrating violence and rioting against the PSNI and the Alliance Party throughout Northern Ireland during the weeks of disorder. Much of the UVF's orchestration was carried out by its senior members in East Belfast, where many attacks on the PSNI and on residents of the Short Strand enclave took place. There were also reports that UVF members fired shots at police lines during a protest. The high levels of orchestration by the leadership of the East Belfast UVF, and the alleged ignored orders from the main leaders of the UVF to stop the violence has led to fears that the East Belfast UVF has now become a separate loyalist paramilitary grouping which doesn't abide by the UVF ceasefire or the Northern Ireland Peace Process.
Drug dealing 
The UVF have been implicated in drug dealing in areas from where they draw their support. Recently it has emerged from the Police Ombudsman that senior North Belfast UVF member and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Special Branch informant Mark Haddock has been involved in drug dealing. According to the Belfast Telegraph, "...70 separate police intelligence reports implicating the north Belfast UVF man in dealing cannabis, Ecstasy, amphetamines and cocaine."
According to Alan McQuillan, the assistant director of the Assets Recovery Agency in 2005, "In the loyalist community, drug dealing is run by the paramilitaries and it is generally run for personal gain by a large number of people." When the Assets Recovery Agency won a High Court order to seize luxury homes belonging to ex-policeman Colin Robert Armstrong and his partner Geraldine Mallon in 2005, Alan McQuillan said "We have further alleged Armstrong has had links with the UVF and then the LVF following the split between those organisations." It was alleged that Colin Armstrong had links to both drugs and loyalist terrorists.
The UVF's satellite organisation, the Red Hand Commando, was described by the IMC in 2004 as "heavily involved" in drug dealing.
Strength, finance and support 
The strength of the UVF is uncertain. The first Independent Monitoring Commission report in April 2004 described the UVF/RHC as "relatively small" with "a few hundred" active members "based mainly in the Belfast and immediately adjacent areas". Historically, the number of active UVF members in July 1971 was stated by one source to be no more than 20. Later, in September 1972, Gusty Spence said in an interview that the organisation had a strength of 1,500. A British Army report released in 2006 estimated a peak membership of 1,000. Information regarding the role of women in the UVF is limited. One study focusing in part on female members of the UVF and Red Hand Commando noted that it "seem[ed] to have been reasonably unusual" for women to be officially asked to join the UVF. Another estimates that over a 30-year period women accounted for just 2% of UVF membership at most.
Prior to and after the onset of the Troubles the UVF carried out armed robberies. This activity has been described as its preferred source of funds in the early 1970s, and it continued into the 2000s with the UVF in Co Londonderry being active. Members were disciplined after they carried out an unsanctioned theft of £8 million of paintings from an estate in Co Wicklow in April 1974. Like the IRA, the UVF also operated black taxi services, a scheme believed to have generated £100,000 annually for the organisation. The UVF has also been involved in the extortion of legitimate businesses, although to a lesser extent than the UDA, and was described in the fifth IMC report as being involved in organised crime. In 2002 the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee estimated the UVF's annual running costs at £1–2 million per year, against an annual fundraising capability of £1.5 million.
In contrast to the IRA, overseas support for loyalist paramilitaries including the UVF has been limited. Its main benefactors have been in central Scotland, Liverpool, Preston and the Toronto area of Canada. Supporters in Scotland have helped supply explosives and guns. Although Scottish support for loyalist paramilitaries has been hindered by the strong disapproval of the mainstream Orange Order in that country, it is estimated that the UVF nevertheless received hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations to its Loyalist Prisoners Welfare Association.
Further finance came from the much hyped bus tours around the sovereign of Ulster.
Affiliated groups 
- The Red Hand Commando (RHC) is an organisation that was established in 1972 and is closely linked with the UVF.
- The Young Citizen Volunteers (YCV) is the youth section of the UVF. It was initially a youth group akin to the Scouts, but became the youth wing of the UVF during the Home Rule crisis.
- The Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) is the political wing of the UVF. In June 2010 their sole member in the Northern Ireland Assembly, their party leader Dawn Purvis, resigned from the PUP over the UVF being accused of involvement in the Moffett murder.
- The Protestant Action Force and, much less commonly, the Protestant Action Group were cover names used by the UVF to avoid directly claiming responsibility for killings and other acts of violence. The names were first used during the early 1970s.
Deaths as a result of activity 
The UVF has killed more people than any other loyalist paramilitary group. According to the University of Ulster's Sutton database, the UVF and RHC was responsible for 481 killings during "the Troubles", between 1969 and 2001.
Note that these figures include killings that were claimed by the "Protestant Action Force" and "Protestant Action Group".
|Civilian Political Activist||11||2%|
See also 
- Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) – Organisation overseeing Decommissioning,
- Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) – Organisation monitoring activity by paramilitary groups.
- Larne Gun Running
- UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade
- Young Citizen Volunteers
- Taylor, Peter (1999). Loyalists. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. p.34 ISBN 0-7475-4519-7
- Jim Cusack & Henry McDonald, UVF, Poolbeg, 1997, p. 107
- Wood, Ian S., Crimes of Loyalty, Edinburgh University Press, 2006, p.6 & p.191 ISBN 978-0748624270
- Bruce, Steve. The Edge of the Union: The Ulster Loyalist Political Vision, Oxford University Press, 1994, p.4, ISBN 978-0198279761
- Boulton, David, U.V.F. 1966–73: An Anatomy of Loyalist Rebellion, Gill & MacMillan, 1973, p.3 ISBN 978-0717106660
- "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths: Organisation responsible for the death". Cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
- CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths: Crosstabulation (select "religion summary" + "status" + "organisation")
- Anderson, Malcolm & Bort, Eberhard (1999). The Irish Border: history, politics, culture. Liverpool University Press. p.129
- Taylor, Peter (1999). Loyalists. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. p.112 ISBN 0-7475-4519-7
- Dillon, p.133
- Moloney, Ed (2010). Voices From the Grave: Two Men's War in Ireland. Faber & Faber. p.377
- "The untouchable informers facing exposure at last". Belfast Telegraph. David Gordon. 18 January 2007. Retrieved 31 May 2012
- Gallaher, Carolyn (2007). After the Peace: Loyalist paramilitaries in post-accord Northern Ireland. Cornell University. p.151
- Kate Fearon. The Conflict's Fifth Business: a brief biography of Billy Mitchell. 2 February 2002. p.27
- Nelson, Sarah (1984). Ulster's Uncertain Defenders: Protestant Political, Paramilitary and Community Groups and the Northern Ireland Conflict. Belfast: Appletree Press. p.208
- Jim Cusack & Henry McDonald, UVF, Poolbeg, 1997, p. 21
- "The Dublin and Monaghan bombings: Cover-up and incompetence". page 1. Politico. Joe Tiernan 3 May 2007 Retrieved 17 November 2011
- Coogan, Tim Pat (1995). The Troubles: Ireland's Ordeal, 1966–1996, and the Search for Peace. Hutchinson. p.177
- Dillon, p.53
- Moloney, Ed (2010). Voices From the Grave: Two Men's War in Ireland. Faber & Faber. p.376
- Gallaher, Carolyn (2007). After the Peace: Loyalist paramilitaries in post-accord Northern Ireland. New York: Cornell University Press. p.134.
- Country Reports on Terrorism: 2004. State Department, Office of the Coordinator for Conterterrorism. p.128
- David McKittrick (12 March 2009). "Will loyalists seek bloody revenge?". The Independent. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
- Kentucky New Era, 14 April 1992
- Mitchell, Thomas G (2000). "Chapter 7 subsection: The Loyalist terrorists of Ulster, 1969–94". Native vs. Settler. Greenwood Press. pp. 154–165.
- Steve Bruce, The Red Hand, Oxford University Press, 1992, p.119
- Taylor, Peter (1999). Loyalists. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. pp.40–41
- Moloney, Ed (2010). Voices From the Grave: Two Men's War in Ireland. Faber & Faber. p.350
- Jim Cusack & Henry McDonald, UVF, Poolbeg, 1997, p. 105
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- Death Squad Dossier, Irish Mail on Sunday by Michael Browne, 10 December 2006, also partly quoted in Barron Report (2003) p, 172 see also, Irish Daily Mail, 30 November 2006 for further information
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- Taylor, Peter (1999). Loyalists. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 189–195. ISBN 0-7475-4519-7.
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- McQuillan, Alan (24 March 2005). "'Drugs link' man is ex-policeman". BBC News. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
- Boulton, p.144,
- Cusack & McDonald, p.102
- Alison, Miranda, Women and Political Violence: Female Combatants in Ethno-National Conflict, Routledge, 2009, p.160, ISBN 978-0415592420
- McEvoy, Sandra, Gender and International Security: Feminist Perspectives, Routledge, 2009, p.134, ISBN 978-0415475792,
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- Wood, Ian S., Crimes of Loyalty, Edinburgh University Press, 2006, p.20 ISBN 978-0748624270
- Taylor, p.125
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- Boulton, p.174
- Adams, James, The Financing of Terror, New English Library, 1988, p.167, ISBN 978-0450413476
- Bruce, p.198
- House of Commons: Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, The Financing of Terrorism in Northern Ireland: Report and Proceedings of the Committee volume 1, Stationery Office Books, 2002, ISBN 978-0215004000
- Bruce, p. 149-150, p. 171-172
- Cusack & McDonald, p.198-199
- Bruce, p.165
- Cusack & McDonald, p.209
- Boulton, p.134
- Cusack & McDonald, p.34-35, 105, 199, 205
- Cusack & McDonald, p.200-201
- Bruce, p.158-159, 164
- Cusack & McDonald, p.199
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- Martin Dillon, The Dirty War
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- Peter Taylor, Loyalists
- David Boulton, UVF 1966–1973: An Anatomy of Loyalist Rebellion, ISBN 978-0717106660
- Tony Geraghty, The Irish War
- Paul Bew, Peter Gibbon, Henry Patterson: Northern Ireland, 1921–2001; Political Forces and Social Classes (Serif, London, 2002) ISBN 978-1-897959-38-1