Timeline of Ulster Volunteer Force actions

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This is a timeline of actions by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), an Ulster loyalist paramilitary group since 1966. It includes actions carried out by the Red Hand Commando (RHC), a group integrated into the UVF shortly after their formation in 1972. It also includes attacks claimed by the Protestant Action Force (PAF), a covername used by the UVF. Most of these actions took place during the conflict known as "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland.

Contents

The UVF's declared goal was to destroy Irish republican paramilitary groups. However, most of its victims were Irish Catholic civilians, who were often chosen at random. [1] Whenever it claimed responsibility for its attacks, the UVF usually claimed that those targeted were Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) members or sympathisers. [2] At other times, attacks on Catholic civilians were claimed as "retaliation" for IRA actions, since the IRA drew most of its support from majority-Catholic areas. Such retaliation was seen as both collective punishment and an attempt to weaken the IRA's support. [3] Many retaliatory assaults on Catholics were claimed using the PAF covername. Members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) and the British Army colluded with the UVF in a number of incidents. [4] [5]

1960s

1966

1967

1968

1969

January–June

  • 1 January: a bomb planted by UVF members destroyed a republican memorial at Toomebridge, County Antrim, on the route of the People's Democracy march.
  • March–April 1969, members of the UVF and Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV) bombed water and electricity installations in Northern Ireland. The loyalists hoped the attacks would be blamed on the dormant IRA and on elements of the civil rights movement, which was demanding an end to discrimination against Catholics. The loyalists intended to bring down Ulster Unionist Party Prime Minister Terence O'Neill, who had promised some concessions to the civil rights movement. At the time, the bombings were indeed blamed on the IRA, and British soldiers were deployed to guard installations. [15]

July–December

  • 5 August: RTE Studio bombing – a bomb damaged the front of the RTÉ Television Centre in Donnybrook, Dublin. [16] The UVF claimed responsibility. [17] This was the first attack the group claimed credit for in the Republic of Ireland. [18]
  • 12–17 August: 1969 Northern Ireland riots: fierce clashes erupted across Northern Ireland, between Irish nationalists and unionists, including the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Eight people were killed, hundreds were wounded, and hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed (the majority owned by Catholics and nationalists). The British Army were deployed on the streets of Northern Ireland. The Irish Army also set up field hospitals near the Irish border. [19]
  • 12 October: UVF members shot dead RUC officer Victor Arbuckle during street violence in the loyalist Shankill area of Belfast. Loyalists "had taken to the streets in protest at the Hunt Report, which recommended the disbandment of the B Specials and disarming of the RUC. A Catholic officer was standing next to Constable Arbuckle when he was shot". Arbuckle was the first RUC officer to be killed during the Troubles. [20]
  • 19 October: Thomas McDowell, a member of the UVF and UPV, was badly burnt while planting a bomb at a hydroelectric power station near Ballyshannon, County Donegal. He was electrocuted as he touched a live cable whilst attempting to plant a bomb at the base of a pylon, suffering serious burns, and he died of his injuries two days later, aged 45. [21] This is when it was realized that the earlier bombings had also been carried out by loyalists, not republicans. The UVF issued a statement saying the attempted attack was a protest against the Irish Army units "still massed on the border in Co Donegal". The statement added: "so long as the threats from Éire continue, so long will the volunteers of Ulster's people's army strike at targets in Southern Ireland". [18]
  • 31 October: The UVF claimed responsibility for bombing the memorial to Wolfe Tone (leader of the United Irishmen) in Bodenstown, County Kildare, Republic of Ireland. [22]
  • 26 December: The UVF was believed to have been responsible for bombing the Daniel O'Connell monument on O'Connell Street, Dublin. Little damage was done to the statue but the blast smashed windows in a half-mile radius. [23] [24]
  • 28 December: A car bomb exploded outside the Garda Síochána central detective bureau in Dublin. Gardaí believed that the UVF was responsible and said that the nearby telephone exchange headquarters may have been the target. [25]

1970s

1970

1971

1972

January–April

  • 8 February: The "Red Hand Commando" claimed responsibility for killing a Catholic civilian, Bernard Rice (aged 49), in a drive-by shooting on Crumlin Road, Belfast. [46]
  • 13 March: The UVF shot dead a Catholic civilian, Patrick McCrory (aged 19), at his home on Ravenhill Avenue, Belfast. [47]
  • 15 April: The UVF killed a Catholic civilian, Sean McConville (aged 17), in a drive-by shooting on Crumlin Road, Belfast. [47]
  • 13–14 May: The UVF engaged the IRA in a series of gun battles in the interface area between Springmartin and Ballymurphy. A total of seven people were killed, five of whom were uninvolved civilians. Two UVF members were arrested by the RUC. [48]

May–August

  • 27 May: The UVF killed a Catholic civilian, Gerard Duddy (aged 20), in a drive-by shooting at the junction of Finaghy Road North and Andersonstown Road, Belfast. [47]
  • 28 May: The UVF killed a Catholic civilian, James Teer (aged 21), in a drive-by shooting on the Springfield Road, Belfast. [47]
  • 29 May: The UVF shot and killed a Catholic civilian, Thomas Wardlow (aged 32), Millfield, Belfast. [47]
  • 4 June: The UVF shot dead a Catholic civilian, Gerard Murray (aged 26), at his shop on Annesley Street, Belfast. [49]
  • 23 June: The UVF carried out a drive-by shooting on a group of Catholics standing outside a bank at the corner of Antrim Road and Atlantic Avenue, Belfast. One Catholic civilian, Patrick McCullough (aged 17), was killed and another wounded. [50]
  • 3 July: The UVF shot dead a Catholic civilian, John O'Hanlon (aged 38), and dumped his body off Twickenham Street, Belfast. [47]
  • 5 July: The UVF shot a Catholic civilian, Laurence McKenna (aged 22) at the junction of Falls Road and Waterford Street, Lower Falls, Belfast. He died three days later, on 8 July. [47]
  • 11/12 July: UVF and UDA members shot dead an intellectually disabled 15-year-old Catholic (David McClenaghan) at his home on Southport Street, Belfast, after reportedly raping his mother. [51] [52]
  • 22 July: The UVF shot dead two Catholic civilians (Rosemary McCartney, aged 27, and Patrick O'Neill, aged 26). The bodies were found in an abandoned car, Forthriver Road, Glencairn, Belfast. [47]
  • 16 August: The UVF shot dead a Protestant civilian (William Spence, aged 32) in the Long Bar, Shankill, Belfast, where he worked as a barman. [47]
  • 20 August: The UVF shot dead a Protestant civilian (James Lindsay, aged 45), and dumped his body on the Glencairn Road, Glencairn, Belfast. [47]
  • 26 August: The UVF shot dead two Catholic civilians in Belfast. One, John Nulty (aged 26), was found on Agnes Street, Shankill; the other, Patrick Kelly (aged 26), was found on Benwell Street, Lower Oldpark. [47]

September–December

  • 14 September: The UVF exploded a car bomb outside the Imperial Hotel on Cliftonville Road, Belfast, which killed three civilians, two Protestants (Andrew McKibben and Martha Smilie), and a Catholic (Anne Murray, who died of her wounds two days later, on 16 September 1972). [47]
  • 16 September: The British Army shot dead a UVF member (Sinclair Johnston, aged 27) during a riot in Larne. [47]
  • 26 September: The UVF exploded a car bomb outside a social club on Upper Library Street, Belfast. A Catholic civilian, Daniel McErlane (aged 46) died of his injuries the following day. [53]
  • 28 September: The UVF shot dead a Protestant civilian, Edward Pavis (aged 32), at his home on Glenvarlock Street, Belfast. [47]
  • 29 September: The UVF shot dead a Protestant milkman, Thomas Paisley (aged 49), while carrying out a robbery at a farmhouse on Straid Road, Ballynure, County Antrim. [47]
  • 30 September: The UVF exploded a car bomb at Conlon's Bar, Belfast, which killed two Catholic civilians. [47]
  • 4 October: A Catholic civilian, Patrick Connolly (aged 23), was killed when the UVF threw a grenade into his home on Deramore Drive, Portadown, County Armagh. His mother and brother were wounded. The grenade was of a type made in the United Kingdom "for use by the British Armed Forces" and the attack has been linked to the Glenanne gang. [54]
  • 7 October: The UVF exploded a car bomb at the Long Bar on Leeson Street, Belfast, which killed a Catholic civilian, Olive McConnell (aged 23). [47]
  • 13 October: The UVF firebombed several public houses including the Ballyhackamore Inn, the Balmoral Inn and the Rosetta Bar. [55]
  • 29 October: The UVF killed a Catholic civilian (Michael Turner, aged 16) in a drive-by shooting on Cliftonville Road, Belfast. [47]
  • 31 October: The "Red Hand Commandos" shot dead a Catholic civilian (James Kerr, aged 17) at his garage workplace on Lisburn Road, Belfast. [47]
  • 11 November: The "Red Hand Commandos" shot dead a Catholic civilian (Gerard Kelly, aged 58), at his newsagent's shop, Crumlin Road, Belfast. [47]
  • 21 November: The UVF shot dead a Catholic civilian, Joseph McIlroy (aged 30), at his home on Sandhill Drive, Bloomfield, Belfast. [47]
  • 27 November: The UVF shot dead a 14-year-old Catholic civilian, Rory Gormley, who was traveling in a car at the junction of Downing and Ariel streets, Shankill, Belfast. [47]
  • 1 December: Two car bombs exploded in Dublin. One exploded at 7:58 p.m on Eden Quay and one exploded at 8:16 p.m on Sackville Place. A man described as having an English accent sent a telephoned warning to a Belfast newspaper just a few minutes before the first explosion. Two civilians (George Bradshaw and Thomas Duffy) were killed and 127 wounded. No group initially claimed responsibility, but the UVF did so later. [56]
  • 14 December: The UVF exploded a car bomb at Dolan's Bar in Killeter, near Castlederg, County Tyrone, which killed Kathleen Dolan (aged 19), a Catholic civilian. [47]
  • 20 December: The UVF killed a Catholic civilian in a drive-by shooting at Clonmore, County Armagh. [47]
  • 21 December: A Catholic civilian was killed in a drive-by shooting on Clandeboye Road, Bangor. He had been waiting for his regular lift to work. It is thought the Red Hand Commandos were responsible. [57]
  • 28 December: Belturbet bombing – Loyalists associated with the UVF detonated three bombs in the Republic of Ireland within thirty minutes of each other. A car bomb exploded without warning outside the post office in Belturbet, County Cavan. Two teenaged civilians (Geraldine O'Reilly and Patrick Stanley) were killed and eight wounded. [58] Another car bomb exploded without warning in Clones, County Monaghan, wounding a further two civilians. The other bomb exploded without warning outside a pub in Mulnagoad, near Pettigo, County Donegal. There were no injuries. [59]
  • 30 December: The UVF shot dead a Catholic civilian, Hugh Martin (aged 56), in his car near his workplace on Lichfield Avenue, Belfast. [47]

1973

January–June

  • 20 January: After issuing an inadequate warning, the UVF exploded a car bomb on Sackville Place, Dublin. It killed one civilian (Thomas Douglas, originally from Scotland [60] ), and wounded 14 others. [61]
  • 4 February: The UVF shot dead a Catholic civilian, Seamus Gilmore, at his workplace, Mount Pleasant Filling Station, Ballysillan Road, Belfast. [62]
  • 7 February: The UVF (as part of the United Loyalist Council) held a one-day strike to "re-establish some sort of Protestant or loyalist control over the affairs of the province". Loyalist paramilitaries forcibly stopped many people going to work and closed many businesses that had opened. There were eight bombings and thirty-five acts of arsons. The British Army shot dead a UVF member, Robert Bennett (aged 31), during a riot on Albertbridge Road, Belfast. [62]
  • 18 February: The UVF killed two Catholic civilians, Anthony Coleman (aged 30) and David McAleese (aged 38), in a drive-by shooting on Divis Street, Belfast. [62]
  • 19 February: A Protestant civilian, William Cooke, was found shot dead at Wolfhill Quarry on the edge of Belfast. The UVF killed him as an alleged informer. [63]
  • 1 March: The UVF shot dead a Catholic taxi driver, Stephen Kernan (aged 54), in his car on Mansfield Street, Belfast. [62]
  • 2 March: The UVF shot dead a Catholic bus driver, Patrick Crossan (aged 34), as he stopped at a bus stop on Woodvale Road, Belfast. [62]
  • 4 March: A British Army soldier died four weeks after being shot by the UVF during a riot on Newtownards Road/Welland Street, Belfast. [62]
  • 15 March: A Catholic civilian was killed when the UVF exploded a bomb at his house in Jordanstown. [62]
  • 14 April: The UVF killed a Protestant Official IRA volunteer in a drive-by shooting on McClure Street, Belfast. [62]
  • 22 April: A UVF member was found dead in his cell at Crumlin Road Prison, Belfast. It is believed he was poisoned by fellow UVF prisoners as part of an internal dispute. [62]
  • 11 May: The UVF shot a Catholic civilian on Raglan Street, Belfast. He died on 14 May. [62]
  • 17 May: The UVF carried out a gun and grenade attack on the Jubilee Arms pub on Lavinia Street, Belfast. A Catholic civilian was killed. [62]
  • 17 May: An Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) soldier shot a UVF member as he tried to steal a car on Shankill Road, Belfast. He died on 19 May. [62]
  • 31 May: The UVF were blamed for a gun and grenade attack on Muldoon's Bar in Belfast. An English seaman was killed. [62]
  • 31 May: The UVF were blamed for a bomb attack at McGlade's Bar in Belfast. A Catholic civilian was killed. [62]
  • 3 June: The UVF shot dead two Protestant civilians in a house on Druse Street, Belfast. [62]

July–December

  • 6 July: The UVF killed an Official IRA volunteer (Patrick Bracken, aged 27), in a drive-by shooting on the Falls Road, Belfast. [62]
  • 21 July: The UVF shot a Protestant civilian during a robbery of the Horseshoe Bar, Belfast. He died on 24 July. [62]
  • 22 July: The UVF shot dead a German seaman and dumped his body in an alleyway of Klondyke Street, Belfast. [62]
  • 5 August: The UVF shot dead two Catholic civilians at their farmhouse at Broughadoey near Moy. Their two-year-old son was also wounded by gunfire. [64] The attack has been linked to the Glenanne gang.
  • 9 August: The UVF killed a Presbyterian civilian from County Donegal when it shot at his company van on the motorway near Templepatrick. [62]
  • 11 August: The UVF shot dead a Protestant civilian on Ormeau Road, Belfast. [62]
  • 15 August: The UVF exploded a car bomb at Sportsman's Inn, Belfast. It killed a Catholic civilian. [62]
  • 20 August: A Catholic civilian was killed when the UVF threw a grenade into his house on Grampian Avenue, Belfast. [62]
  • 25 August: The UVF exploded a bomb at a garage on Cliftonville Road, Belfast. It then shot dead the three Catholic civilians who worked there. [62]
  • 27 August: Loyalist paramilitaries believed to be the UVF or RHC left a car bomb outside the Roman Catholic church (St. Patrick's & St. Brigid's) in the town on 26 August 1973. It was timed to explode as massgoers left the church. But the service ran late, and the bomb detonated when the congregation were still inside the church, avoiding large-scale loss of life. 50 people were injured, 3 of them seriously, including a BBC journalist who needed an arm amputated. [65]
  • 28 August: Two UVF bombs explode in Armagh injuring 20 people. [66]
  • 28 September: A car bomb exploded outside a grocery shop and house in Pettigo, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland. No warning was given and a number of people were injured. It is believed that loyalists associated with the UVF were to blame, and a Garda report suggested that British soldiers may have been involved. The bomb exploded just yards across the border. The British Army had been scheduled to patrol the border in the area that night but did not arrive. [67]
  • 1 October: UVF gunmen hijacked a taxi at Annadale Embankment in Belfast and shot dead the passenger, who was a Catholic civilian. [68]
  • 28 October: A Catholic civilian was wounded by a booby trap bomb planted by the UVF on a farm at Carnteel. He died on 8 November. [62]
  • 29 October: The UVF shot dead a Catholic civilian at his home in Banbridge. [62] The attack has been linked to the Glenanne gang.
  • 1 November: The UVF shot dead a Catholic civilian as he drove out of his workplace on Dayton Street, Belfast. [69]
  • 1 November: The UVF exploded a bomb at the Avenue Bar, Belfast. It killed a Catholic civilian. [62]
  • 9 November: The UVF exploded a bomb at the Sunflower Bar, Belfast. It killed a Protestant civilian. [62]
  • 12 November: The UVF detonate three bombs in Armagh and one more in Quinn's Bar in Dungannon. A number of people are injured. [66]
  • 17–18 November: A UVF member was killed when his bomb prematurely exploded at a farmhouse in Desertmartin. A 500 lb UVF bomb destroyed shops and flats in the Catholic Newington area of north Belfast. [70]
18 November: The UVF leadership declared a ceasefire to allow the political process to develop. [70]
  • 28 December: The British Army shot dead a UVF member during a fight outside the Bayardo Bar, Belfast. Hours later, UVF and UDA snipers shot dead a Catholic RUC officer on Forthriver Road, Belfast. They had robbed a supermarket to lure his police patrol to the scene. The attack was thought to be a retaliation for the killing of the UVF member. [71]

1974

14 May: The UVF and Sinn Féin were declared legal following the passing of legislation at Westminster.

1975

March: A feud began between the UVF and Ulster Defence Association (UDA)/Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), the other main loyalist group.

1976

1977

1978

1979

20 February: Eleven members of the UVF known as the "Shankill Butchers" were sentenced to life in prison for 19 murders. The infamous group was named for their practice of torturing and mutilating their victims with butcher’s knives.

1980s

1980

1981

1982

1983

11 April: In a ‘supergrass’ trial in Belfast, 14 UVF members were jailed for a total of 200 years. Their convictions were quashed on 24 December 1984.

1984

1985

1986

16 September: A number of Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) politicians attended the funeral of leading UVF member John Bingham.

1987

1988

1989

1990s

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000s

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2007

2009

2010s

2010

2011

2012

2013

2019

2020s

2021

2022

See also

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