Young Citizen Volunteers (1972)

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YCV flag

The Young Citizen Volunteers (YCV) is a Northern Irish loyalist group which is the youth movement attached to the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). It takes its name from an earlier YCV that was associated with the original Ulster Volunteers although there is no direct continuity between the two YCVs. However both groups share the same emblem of a shamrock surmounted by a Red Hand of Ulster.[1]

Establishment[edit]

YCV mural off Belfast's Donegall Pass

The modern UVF was established in Belfast's Shankill Road area by Gusty Spence and others in 1966. The new group quickly undertook a sectarian campaign of arson and murder.[2] During the early 1970s a group of loyalist youths who supported Linfield F.C. congregated on the Shankill Road and were regularly involved in acts of vandalism against the nationalist Unity Flats area on their way to and from football matches. One of their number was Billy Hutchinson who was close to the UVF and who organised these youths into a new UVF youth group, resurrecting the old YCV name in the process.[3] Along with Billy Spence Hutchinson oversaw a recruitment drive for the new group, which expanded quickly in its first few years of existence.[4] The reformation of the YCV had been organised by Gusty Spence following his escape from prison, which dates the event to 1972.[5]

Activities[edit]

YCV emblem on a UVF mural in North Belfast

Activities carried out by the YCV included throwing petrol bombs at Catholic homes.[6] Writer Tim Pat Coogan has compared it to the Fianna Éireann and Ulster Young Militants (UYM), with all three characterised as "a military scouting movement which acts as a youthful recruiting agency" for the respective paramilitary group.[7] In late 1974 the head of the YCV, who was not identified, even became the Chief of Staff of the UVF itself after a power struggle with the incumbent Ken Gibson.[8] The group expanded beyond Belfast into other UVF areas, notably Mid-Ulster where Billy Wright joined the group at around the age of 14.[9] Eddie Kinner, who went to hold leading positions in both the UVF and the Progressive Unionist Party, was also a member and demonstrated his support by sporting the initials YCV on his school bag.[10]

In late 1974 two Catholics, Michael Loughran and Eddie Morgan, were shot and killed by two YCV members, Hutchinson and Thomas Winstone, on the Falls Road.[11] During the subsequent trial, at which both defendants were convicted of murder, a Royal Ulster Constabulary officer giving evidence stated that the YCV had been reformed solely as a sectarian group to kill Catholics.[6]

Although their profile fell somewhat after Hutchinson's imprisonment the YCV continued to exist alongside the UVF for the duration of the Troubles and beyond. In 2001 it was reported by Pastor Jack McKee, a born-again Christian preacher noted for his anti-paramilitary activity, reported that in secondary schools around the Shankill some pupils had to be let out at different times and from different gates depending on whether they were members of the YCV or UYM, due to a loyalist feud that was ongoing between the UVF and the UDA West Belfast Brigade.[12]

Along with those of the UVF and the Red Hand Commando (RHC), YCV flags are regularly carried by loyalist flute band colour parties during the marching season and particularly in Belfast.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Adrian Forty, Susanne Küchle, The Art of Forgetting, Berg 2001, p. 181
  2. ^ Martin Dillon, The Shankill butchers: the real story of cold-blooded mass murder. Routledge, 1999. pp 20–23
  3. ^ Peter Taylor, Loyalists, Bloomsbury, 2000, pp. 81-82
  4. ^ Roy Garland, Gusty Spence, Blackstaff Press, 2001, p. 52
  5. ^ Garland, Gusty Spence, p. 147
  6. ^ a b W.D. Flackes & Sydney Elliott, Northern Ireland: A political Directory 1968-1993, Blackstaff Press, 1994, p. 358
  7. ^ Tim Pat Coogan, The Troubles, Hutchinson, 1995, p. 282
  8. ^ Cusack & McDonald, UVF, pp. 151-152
  9. ^ Martin Dillon, The Trigger Men, Mainstream Publishing, 2003, pp. 22-24
  10. ^ Dominic Sandbrook, State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974, Penguin, 2011
  11. ^ Taylor, Loyalists, p. 140
  12. ^ Henry McDonald and Jim Cusack, 'UDA: Inside the Heart of Loyalist Terror, Penguin Ireland, 2004, p. 339
  13. ^ Dominic Bryan, Orange Parades: The Politics of Ritual, Tradition and Control, Pluto Press, 2000, pp. 131; 164