Ulster Loyalist Central Co-ordinating Committee

Last updated

The Ulster Loyalist Central Co-ordinating Committee (ULCCC) was set up in 1974 in Belfast, Northern Ireland in the aftermath of the Ulster Workers Council Strike, to facilitate meetings and policy coordination between the Ulster Workers Council, loyalist paramilitary groups, and the political representatives of Ulster loyalism.

Contents

Original version

Seen as an important link between grassroots loyalism and more mainstream unionist politics, the ULCCC was chaired by Glenn Barr and met in the Belfast offices of the Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party on a weekly basis. [1] Replacing the earlier Ulster Army Council, it brought together representatives of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), Red Hand Commando, Vanguard Service Corps/Ulster Volunteer Service Corps, Down Orange Welfare (DOW), Loyalist Association of Workers and Orange Volunteers. [2] Barr was soon replaced as chairman by John McKeague and the ULCCC took on the wider aim of preparing for the establishment of a unified "Ulster army" in the event of a British withdrawal from Northern Ireland, something that had become a leading fear in unionism in the mid-1970s. [3]

Both Barr and McKeague were prominent supporters of Ulster nationalism and in McKeague's capacity of ULCCC chairman he spoke publicly in support of independence, despite the fact that such an idea had little support outside sections of the UDA. [4] Somewhat ironically it was the UDA, along with DOW, that left the ULCCC in 1976 after it emerged that McKeague and other members of the groups were unilaterally holding meetings with members of the Provisional IRA and also discussing plans for an independent Northern Ireland with leading Catholic figures. [2] With the departure of the largest loyalist paramilitary group, the ULCCC went into abeyance.

Refounded version

The ULCCC was revived in 1991 under the leadership of Ray Smallwoods (the leader of the Ulster Democratic Party who was killed by the Provisional IRA in July 1994), although it did not gain much importance due to the existence by that time of the Combined Loyalist Military Command, which brought together the leaderships of the UDA, RHC and UVF. [2]

"The Committee"

The revived ULCCC was at the centre of controversy when Sean McPhilemy alleged that its members included Ulster Bank chief Billy Abernethy, Ulster Independence Movement leader Reverend Hugh Ross, Royal Ulster Constabulary Assistant Chief Constable Trevor Forbes and other leading people in Northern Irish society who, he claimed, conspired with leading paramilitary figures such as Billy Wright and Robin Jackson to facilitate loyalist killings. [5]

The full list of alleged members as claimed by McPhilemy in his book [6] was as follows:

NamePosition or jobNotes
Billy Abernethy Ulster Bank executiveULCCC chairman
Hugh Ross Ulster Independence Movement leader
Trevor Forbes OBE Royal Ulster Constabulary Assistant Chief Constable
James SandsUlster Independence Movement memberMcPhilemy's main source of information
John McCullagh Ulster Resistance representative
Isobel McCullochULCCC secretary
Graham LongLoyalist paramilitaryPreviously British Army
Nelson McCausland Member of Belfast City Council Subsequently Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure
David PrenticeCo-owner of car businessSuccessfully sued McPhilemy (see below)
Albert PrenticeCo-owner of car businessSuccessfully sued McPhilemy (see below)
Cecil KilpatrickUlster Independence Movement member
Lewis SingletonUlster Independence Movement member and solicitor
Sammy AbrahamBusinessman
Will DavidsonInner Force representative
Alec JamisonInner Force representative
Robin Jackson Ulster Volunteer Force brigadier
Billy Wright Ulster Volunteer Force brigadier
Dean McCulloughUlster Volunteer Force member
Alec BensonLoyalist Retaliation and Defence Group member Lisburn-based arm of the UVF
Ken Kerr Ulster Defence Association brigadierSource of evidence for McPhilemy
Ian WhittleInner Force representative

The make-up of the group was largely based on evidence provided to McPhilemy by James Sands. An alternative composition of the Committee was provided by Ken Kerr although McPhilemy later determined his evidence to be fraudulent and dismissed it. [7] Of those named by McPhilemy only Sands and Kerr acknowledged the existence of this version of the ULCCC.

The Inner Force referred to in the table was a supposed secret group within the Royal Ulster Constabulary that existed, under the command of Trevor Forbes, to manage police collusion in loyalist paramilitary killings. [8] The existence of the Inner Force has also been strenuously denied by those named as having been involved. David and Albert Prentice subsequently sued McPhilemy, his publisher Roberts Rinehart and his TV production company Box Production for $100 million over his claims that they were involved in the ULCCC. McPhilemy settled out of court for $1 million and released a statement acknowledging that the Prenitces had no involvement in the activity described in the book. [9] In a separate case McPhilemy was awarded £145,000 in damages against The Sunday Times after the paper claimed that The Committee was a hoax. [10]

Bibliography

Related Research Articles

Ulster Volunteer Force Ulster loyalist paramilitary group formed in 1966

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) is an Ulster loyalist paramilitary group. It emerged in 1966. Its first leader was Gusty Spence, a former British Army soldier from Northern Ireland. 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 and Republic of Ireland.

Ulster Workers Council strike

The Ulster Workers' Council (UWC) strike was a general strike that took place in Northern Ireland between 15 May and 28 May 1974, during "the Troubles". The strike was called by unionists who were against the Sunningdale Agreement, which had been signed in December 1973. Specifically, the strikers opposed the sharing of political power with Irish nationalists, and the proposed role for the Republic of Ireland's government in running Northern Ireland.

Glenn Barr

Albert Glenn Barr OBE was a politician from Derry, Northern Ireland, who was an advocate of Ulster nationalism. For a time during the 1970s he straddled both Unionism and Loyalism due to simultaneously holding important positions in the Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party and the Ulster Defence Association.

The Ulster Workers' Council was a loyalist workers' organisation set up in Northern Ireland in 1974 as a more formalised successor to the Loyalist Association of Workers (LAW). It was formed by shipyard union leader Harry Murray and initially failed to gain much attention. However, with the full support of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) the UWC became the main mobilising force for loyalist opposition to power-sharing arrangements.

Loyalist Association of Workers

The Loyalist Association of Workers (LAW) was a militant unionist organisation in Northern Ireland that sought to mobilise trade union members in support of the loyalist cause. It became notorious for a one-day strike in 1973 that ended in widespread violence.

The Ulster Army Council of Northern Ireland was set up in 1973 as an umbrella group by the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force to co-ordinate joint paramilitary operations during the Ulster Workers' Council Strike. Andy Tyrie was the head of the group – and was also the then commander of the Ulster Defence Association.

John McKeague

John Dunlop McKeague was a prominent Ulster loyalist and one of the founding members of the paramilitary group the Red Hand Commando in 1970. Authors on the Troubles in Northern Ireland have accused McKeague of involvement in the Kincora Boys' Home scandal but he was never convicted. He was shot dead by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in Belfast in January 1982.

William Hull was a loyalist activist in Northern Ireland. Hull was a leading figure in political, paramilitary and trade union circles during the early years of the Troubles. He is most remembered for being the leader of the Loyalist Association of Workers, a loyalist trade union-styled movement that briefly enjoyed a mass membership before fading.

Andrew Tyrie is an Ulster loyalist paramilitary leader who served as commander of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) during much of its early history. He took the place of Tommy Herron in 1973 when the latter was killed, and led the organisation until March 1988 when an attempt on his life forced him to resign from his command.

Tommy Lyttle

Tommy "Tucker" Lyttle, was a high-ranking Ulster loyalist during the period of religious-political conflict in Northern Ireland known as "the Troubles". A member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) – the largest loyalist paramilitary organisation in Northern Ireland – he first held the rank of lieutenant colonel and later was made a brigadier. He served as the UDA's spokesman as well as the leader of the organisation's West Belfast Brigade from 1975 until his arrest and imprisonment in 1990. According to journalists Henry McDonald and Brian Rowan, and the Pat Finucane Centre, he became a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Special Branch informer.

Frankie Curry

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.

Mark Fulton (loyalist)

Mark "Swinger" Fulton was a Northern Irish loyalist. He was the leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), having taken over its command following the assassination of Billy Wright in the Maze Prison in 1997 by members of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).

Ken Gibson (loyalist) Northern Irish politician

Kenneth 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).

Clifford Peeples is a self-styled pastor in Northern Ireland who has been associated with Ulster loyalist activity. Peeples has been a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) prisoners' spokesman and leader of the Orange Volunteers.

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.

Young Citizen Volunteers (1972)

The Young Citizen Volunteers of Ireland, or Young Citizen Volunteers (YCV) for short, was an Irish civic organisation founded in Belfast in 1912. It was established to bridge the gap for 18 to 25 year olds between membership of youth organisations—such as the Boys' Brigade and Boy Scouts—and the period of responsible adulthood. Another impetus for its creation was the failure of the British government to extend the legislation for the Territorial Force—introduced in 1908—to Ireland. It was hoped that the War Office would absorb the YCV into the Territorial Force, however such offers were dismissed. Not until the outbreak of World War I did the YCV—by then a battalion of the UVF—become part of the British Army as the 14th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles.

The Orange Volunteers (OV) was a loyalist vigilante group with a paramilitary structure active in Northern Ireland during the early 1970s. It took its name from the Orange Order, from which it drew the bulk of its membership.

The Ulster Special Constabulary Association (USCA) was a loyalist group active in Northern Ireland during the early 1970s.

The Ulster Volunteer Service Corps (UVSC) was an Ulster loyalist vigilante and paramilitary movement active in Northern Ireland during the early 1970s. Initially the steward group for the Ulster Vanguard, under the title Vanguard Service Corps, it continued to exist after becoming independent of that movement.

James Mitchell was an Ulster loyalist and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Reserve officer who provided a base and storage depot for the Glenanne gang at his farm at Glenanne, near Mountnorris, County Armagh, during the Troubles. The gang, which contained over 40 known members, included soldiers of the British Army's Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), officers of the RUC, the Mid-Ulster Brigade of the illegal paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and some Ulster Defence Association (UDA) members.

References

  1. "CAIN: Abstracts of Organisations - 'U'". cain.ulster.ac.uk.
  2. 1 2 3 W.D. Flackes & Sydney Elliott, Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968–1993, Blackstaff Press, 1994, p. 334
  3. Henry McDonald & Jim Cusack, UDA – Inside the Heart of Loyalist Terror, Penguin Ireland, 2004, p. 11
  4. Flackes & Elliott, Northern Ireland, p. 223
  5. Sean McPhilemy, The Committee – Political Assassination in Northern Ireland, Niwot, Colorado: Roberts Rinehart, 1998
  6. McPhilemy, The Committee, pp. 387–388
  7. McPhilemy, The Committee, pp. 327–331
  8. McPhilemy, The Committee, pp. 3–4
  9. "McPhilemy settles libel suit against 'Committee'". 16 February 2011.
  10. "BBC News | NORTHERN IRELAND | Businessmen get libel damages". news.bbc.co.uk.