Thomas English (1960 – 31 October 2000), usually known as Tommy English, was an Ulster loyalist paramilitary and politician. He served as a commander in the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and was killed by members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) as part of a violent loyalist feud between the two organisations. English had also been noted as a leading figure in the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) during the early years of the Northern Ireland peace process.
A paramilitary is a semi-militarized force whose organizational structure, tactics, training, subculture, and (often) function are similar to those of a professional military, but which is formally not part of a government's armed forces.
A politician is a person active in party politics, or a person holding or seeking office in government. Politicians propose, support and create laws or policies that govern the land and, by extension, its people. Broadly speaking, a "politician" can be anyone who seeks to achieve political power in any bureaucratic institution.
The Ulster Defence Association is the largest Ulster loyalist paramilitary and vigilante group in Northern Ireland. It was formed in September 1971 and undertook an armed campaign of almost twenty four years as one of the participants of the Troubles. Its declared goal was to defend Ulster Protestant loyalist areas and to combat Irish republicanism, particularly the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). In the 1970s, uniformed UDA members openly patrolled these areas armed with batons and held large marches and rallies. Within the UDA was a group tasked with launching paramilitary attacks; it used the cover name Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) so that the UDA would not be outlawed. The British government outlawed the "UFF" in November 1973, but the UDA itself was not proscribed as a terrorist group until August 1992.
From an early age, English was involved in the North Belfast Brigade of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), a loyalist paramilitary group. After his death, the Belfast Telegraph described him as a "UDA commander",while the BBC described him as a "paramilitary chief".
The Belfast Telegraph is a daily newspaper published in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Independent News & Media. Despite its unionist tradition, today the paper has a significant readership both among protestants and catholics.
English also became involved in the political wing of the movement, the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), becoming its chairman.He stood for the UDP in North Belfast in the 1996 Northern Ireland Forum election, and was also placed eighth on the party's top-up list, but he was not elected. He was active on behalf of the party in the discussions which led to the Good Friday Agreement. A noted critic of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) during his political career, English gained notoriety for an appearance at a UDA rally in the Ulster Hall in Belfast when he took to the stage wearing an Ian Paisley mask and a clerical dog collar and proceeded to lampoon the DUP leader. He was a regular visitor to conferences and events at the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation and was close to Republic of Ireland peace activists Paul Burton and Chris Hudson, visiting the site of the Battle of the Somme with them in 1999. On St Patrick's Day 1998 he met President of the USA Bill Clinton in Washington DC as part of the UDP delegation visiting the US capital. He hit the headlines in 1997 when he was given a bravery award after breaking down the front door of a burning house and bringing the occupier out to safety.
The Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) was a small loyalist political party in Northern Ireland. It was established in June 1981 as the Ulster Loyalist Democratic Party by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), to replace the New Ulster Political Research Group. The UDP name had previously been used in the 1930s by an unrelated party, which on one occasion contested Belfast Central.
The Northern Ireland Forum for Political Dialogue was a body set up in 1996 as part of a process of negotiations that eventually led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) or Belfast Agreement was a major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s. Northern Ireland's present devolved system of government is based on the agreement. The agreement also created a number of institutions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Alongside his political activism he remained involved in the paramilitary side of the UDA and played a leading role in orchestrating riots at two interface areas in north Belfast i.e. the Limestone Road - which divides Catholic Newington and Protestant Tigers Bay - and the Whitewell Road.English and his family lived in Tiger's Bay before moving to Newtownabbey at an unspecified period so as to "give our kids a chance so they could have a decent life" according to his wife Doreen.
The Antrim Road is a major arterial route and area of housing and commerce that runs from inner city north Belfast to Dunadry, passing through Newtownabbey and Templepatrick. It forms part of the A6 road, a traffic route which links Belfast to Derry. It passes through the New Lodge, Newington and Glengormley areas of Northern Ireland amongst others.
The Shore Road is a major arterial route and area of housing and commerce that runs through north Belfast and Newtownabbey in Northern Ireland. It forms part of the A2 road, a traffic route which links Belfast to the County Antrim coast.
The Whitewell Road is an interface area in north Belfast and Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, and historically the site of occasional clashes between nationalists and loyalists. The Whitewell Road and the surrounding area is a residential community in the Greencastle parish. The Whitewell area is considered a working class area. For much of its length the Whitwell Road runs parallel to the M2 and also provides a direct link between the A2 and the A6.
English left the UDP in 1998 after making a public statement against the Orange Order at a time when the party was widely supporting them in their attempts to march in Catholic areas.English also claimed that he had been the subject of allegations about misappropriating money in the UDA and stated that, whilst the allegations were not widely believed by the group's leadership, worries about them had led him to attempt suicide and seek treatment in a psychiatric hospital.
The Loyal Orange Institution, more commonly known as the Orange Order, is a Protestant fraternal order based primarily in Northern Ireland. It also has lodges in the Republic of Ireland, a Grand Orange Lodge in the Scottish Lowlands and other lodges throughout the Commonwealth, as well as in the United States and Togo. The Orange Order was founded in County Armagh in 1795, during a period of Protestant–Catholic sectarian conflict, as a Masonic-style fraternity sworn to maintain the Protestant Ascendancy. It is headed by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, which was established in 1798. Its name is a tribute to the Dutch-born Protestant king William of Orange, who defeated the army of Catholic king James II in the Williamite–Jacobite War (1688–1691). Its members wear orange sashes and are referred to as Orangemen. The order is best known for its yearly marches, the biggest of which are held on or around 12 July.
In 1999, he was arrested on suspicion of headbutting and kicking a patron of the Crows Nest bar, having allegedly arrived with three associates armed with baseball bats, breaking glasses along the bar.The case was still outstanding, with English awaiting charges, at the time of his death.
On 31 October 2000, English was fatally shot at his home in Ballyfore Gardens, on the Ballyduff estate in Newtownabbey, by a group of four men. His three children were inside the house at about 18.30 when the men entered through the back door as his wife, Doreen was preparing food for a Halloween party. She called out to her husband and attempted to close the door but they pushed past her, one of the men shouting "Get out of the fucking way, Doreen". She kept trying to intervene in an effort to protect English, but she received several hard blows, mostly in the head, and her skull was fractured. English was shot several times as he lay face down in the hallway of his home; the last shot struck him in the lower back. He was rushed to Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital where he died shortly afterwards.
The murder was blamed on the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), who at the time were involved in a violent dispute with the UDA.At his funeral, his coffin was covered in UDA flags, and it was accompanied by men in paramilitary uniforms. Among the mourners was a member of the UVF who was closely related to English. Sympathy notices placed in the local press at the time included one from Johnny Adair, who described English as a "good and faithful servant".
English's murder was said to have been in retaliation for the killing of UVF veteran Bertie Rice earlier that same day.The UDA killed Mark Quail, a 26-year-old UVF member, at his Rathcoole home in retaliation on the following day, with Quail the seventh and final man killed as part of the loyalist feud. David "Candy" Greer, a UDA member killed in the feud three days before English, had been a close friend from English's days in Tiger's Bay. English was initially described in press reports as a relative of UDP colleague and former South East Antrim brigadier Joe English although this was later corrected as the two were not related.
Ten men were put on trial for the murder of English, including UVF North Belfast commander Mark Haddock. However, nine were acquitted of all charges, while the tenth was convicted only of "possessing items intended for terrorism".Following the acquittals, his widow announced that she would be suing police for failing to take action against an informant who was involved in a number of UVF murders in north Belfast.
The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) is an Ulster loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland. It emerged in 1966. Its first leader was Gusty Spence, a former British soldier. The group undertook an armed campaign of almost thirty years during the Troubles. It declared a ceasefire in 1994 and officially ended its campaign in 2007, although some of its members have continued to engage in violence and criminal activities. The group is classified as a terrorist organisation by the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, and United States.
A loyalist feud refers to any of the sporadic feuds which have erupted almost routinely between Northern Ireland's various loyalist paramilitary groups during and after the ethno-political conflict known as the Troubles broke out in the late 1960s. The feuds have frequently involved problems between and within the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) as well as, later, the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).
Frank McCoubrey is a Unionist politician and loyalist in Northern Ireland, as well as a community activist and researcher. He is a leading member of the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) and a member of Belfast City Council, representing the Court area as a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor. McCoubrey is a native of Highfield, Belfast.
Gary McMichael is an Ulster community activist, and retired politician. He was the leader of the short-lived Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) during the Northern Ireland peace process, and was instrumental in organizing the Loyalist ceasefire in the paramilitary war in Ulster in 1994.
The Combined Loyalist Military Command was an umbrella body for loyalist paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland set up in the early 1990s, recalling the earlier Ulster Army Council and Ulster Loyalist Central Co-ordinating Committee.
Billy "Hutchie" Hutchinson is the leader of the Progressive Unionist Party in Northern Ireland. He was elected to Belfast City Council in the 1997 elections and to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998. He lost his assembly seat in 2003 and his council seat in 2005. Before this he had been a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and was a founder of their youth wing, the Young Citizen Volunteers (YCV).
Mark Haddock is an Ulster loyalist paramilitary leader and RUC Special Branch informer in Northern Ireland, who has been named by various sources in connection with more than twenty-one killings. He is a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), and was that organisation's North Belfast commander before his arrest by police in 2005.
Tommy Kirkham is a Northern Ireland loyalist political figure and former councillor. Beginning his political career with the Democratic Unionist Party, he was then associated with the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Political Research Group although he has since been expelled from both groups. He was a former deputy mayor of Newtownabbey and sat on Newtownabbey Borough Council as an Independent Loyalist.
The UDA South East Antrim Brigade was previously one of the six brigades of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and are heavily involved in the drug trade. It is claimed they control "100%" of an illegal drugs network in south-east Antrim, Northern Ireland. A mural in support of the group lists its areas of activity as being Rathcoole, Rathfern, Monkstown, Glengormley and Whitewell, all of which are part of Newtownabbey, as well as Carrickfergus, the Shore Road, Greenisland, Ballymena, Whitehead, Antrim and Larne. A newer mural in the Cloughfern area of Newtownabbey and flags have updated the areas to include Ballycarry, Ballyclare, the rural hinterland of Ballymena called 'Braidside' and despite not being in County Antrim, the town of Newtownards. The Guardian has identified it as "one of the most dangerous factions". The Irish News described the brigade as 'powerful' and at one time being 'the most bloody and murderous gang operating within the paramilitary organisation'. Since 2007 the South East Antrim Brigade has operated independently of the UDA following a fall-out.
Frankie Curry nicknamed "Pigface", was an Ulster loyalist who was involved with a number of paramilitary groups during his long career. A critic of the Northern Ireland peace process, Curry was killed during a loyalist feud.
Joe English is a former Ulster loyalist activist. English was a leading figure in both the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) and was instrumental in the early stages of the Northern Ireland peace process. He is a native of the Rathcoole area of Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland. English is a member of the Apprentice Boys of Derry.
Kenneth "Ken" Gibson was a Northern Irish politician who was the Chairman of the Volunteer Political Party (VPP), which he had helped to form in 1974. He also served as a spokesman and Chief of Staff of the loyalist paramilitary organisation, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).
James "Jimbo" Simpson, also known as the Bacardi Brigadier, was a Northern Irish loyalist paramilitary. He was most noted for his time as Brigadier of the North Belfast Ulster Defence Association (UDA). After falling from grace, Simpson spent a number of years outside Northern Ireland. He returned to Belfast in 2014 in a move related to an ongoing loyalist feud.
William "Billy" Elliot was a former Northern Irish loyalist who served as brigadier of the Ulster Defence Association's (UDA) East Belfast Brigade in the 1980s.
Kenneth Jason Kerr, known as "Ken", is a Northern Irish loyalist activist. He was a leading figure within the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and its political wing, the Ulster Loyalist Democratic Party. He was also central to a series of allegations regarding collusion between the British security forces and loyalist paramilitaries.
Richard Jameson, was a Northern Irish businessman and loyalist, who served as the leader of the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force's (UVF) Mid-Ulster Brigade. He was killed outside his Portadown home during a feud with the rival Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), the breakaway organisation founded by former Mid-Ulster UVF commander Billy Wright after he and the Portadown unit of the Mid-Ulster Brigade were officially stood down by the Brigade Staff in August 1996.
Jackie Coulter was a loyalist from Belfast, Northern Ireland who held the rank of lieutenant in the loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). He was killed by the rival loyalist paramilitary organisation the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), as the result of a feud within loyalism.
Raymond Irvine McCord is a victims rights campaigner from Northern Ireland. McCord became involved in the issue of victims rights after his son, Raymond McCord Jr., was killed by the loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in 1997. He is an outspoken critic of the UVF.