The Ulster Young Militants are considered to be the youth wing of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), an Ulster loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland. Commonly known as the Young Militants or UYM, the group formed in 1974 when the Troubles were at their height.Their motto is "terrae filius", Latin for "son of the land". Their numbers are unknown, but are mainly concentrated in the Belfast area, particularly east and south Belfast.
The UYM had its origins in the "Tartan Gangs" of the early 1970s, unofficial loyalist street gangs who gained their name from the tartan scarves and flash of tartan they wore on their denim jackets.The tartan was said to commemorate the 1971 Scottish soldiers' killings by the Provisional IRA. Author Ian S. Wood has also suggested that the fashion may have been inspired by the Bay City Rollers although it has been noted elsewhere that the Bay City Rollers did not take off until 1974 (by which time the Tartan Gangs were well established) and the band's following tended more towards the teenage girl market. The main activities of the Tartan Gangs were the intimidation of Roman Catholic families in loyalist areas of Belfast and, on weekends, attacks on Catholic youths and businesses in Belfast city centre. These gangs included "The Shankill Young Tartan", "Ardcarn Boot Boys", "Ballybeen Riot Squad" and the "Young Newton" from the Ballymacarrett area of East Belfast. In the Shankill Road area, the Tartan Gang quickly came under UDA control and served as their youth movement, although elsewhere in the city they remained independent and during a series of riots in the east in 1972 they proved notoriously difficult for the UDA leadership to control. In East Belfast, some Tartan Gang members known to John McKeague formed the basis of the Red Hand Commando when he established that group in 1972. During the Ulster Workers' Council strike of 1974, Tartan Gangs roamed the streets of Belfast, ensuring compliance with the stoppage called by the Ulster Workers' Council. The Tartans would form the first of three major youth subcultures that formed the basis of the UYM, the others being skinheads in the early 1980s and "spides" in the 1990s.
Although the exact date of formal establishment of the UYM as an official group attached to the UDA is unknown it is estimated to have been around 1974.The group was initially restricted to 16-year-olds although demand for membership became so high following the Combined Loyalist Military Command ceasefire of 1994 that the age limit was dropped to fourteen. Many prominent loyalists are believed to have been members of the UYM before joining the UDA, including Johnny Adair and John Gregg, whilst Jim Gray, Billy "Twister" McQuiston and Michael Stone were Tartan Gang members. Adair and a number of friends, including Sam McCrory, joined the UYM as a group in 1987.
in 2021 following the Irish Sea border protests in south and north belfast, the UYM allegedly re- emerged, after five nights of rioting and the breaking open the gates of the Belfast peace wall a Facebook message appeared showing the UYM being encouraged to work with the YCV to march through west belfast, a catholic area of the city.[ citation needed ]
The UYM attached to the UDA West Belfast Brigade soared in number under Johnny Adair and in 2000 they played a leading role in helping to drive Ulster Volunteer Force members and supporters out of the Lower Shankill as part of a loyalist feud between the two paramilitary groups.Their involvement was such that 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 UYM or the Young Citizen Volunteers.
Later, members have been involved in rioting, particularly during the marching season and at interface areas.The group was particularly active in this respect in the Tiger's Bay area, where they were deployed by the UDA to attack homes in the neighbouring nationalist New Lodge and Newington areas. One local member, Glen Branagh (a distant relative of the actor Kenneth Branagh), died in these clashes when, on 11 November 2001, a pipe bomb he was holding exploded in his hand whilst he stood with fellow UYM members on the Duncairn Gardens interface area. They have also been blamed for arson attacks on Catholic schools and churches. In 1999 the UYM was behind over 230 pipe bomb attacks in the UDA South East Antrim Brigade area alone.
According to the University of Ulster's CAIN Project, the group were responsible for one death during the conflict. In 2001 members of the UYM attacked and killed Trevor Lowry in Newtownabbey, believing him to be a Roman Catholic. It was later discovered that Lowry was a Protestant.Of the two convicted for his murder one, Harry Speers, was significantly over the usual UYM age limits but was in fact commander of the Glengormley UYM and had direct responsibility for preparing UYM members for the transition to the UDA. However, as well as Lowry's murder, according to Henry McDonald and Jim Cusack, a UYM member also killed the UDA's Stephen Audley on 17 March 1991 after the pair fought over a handgun at a party, with the weapon discharging during the struggle and killing Audley.
Jonathan Adair, better known as Johnny Adair or Mad Dog Adair, is an Ulster loyalist and the former leader of the "C Company", 2nd Battalion Shankill Road, West Belfast Brigade of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF). This was a cover name used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), a loyalist paramilitary organisation. In 2002 Adair was expelled from the organisation following a violent internal power struggle. Since 2003, he, his family and a number of supporters have been forced to leave Northern Ireland by the mainstream UDA.
The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) is an Ulster loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland. It was formed in September 1971 as an umbrella group for various loyalist groups 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.
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 1969. 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).
John White is a former leading loyalist in Northern Ireland. He was sometimes known by the nickname 'Coco'. White was a leading figure in the loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and, following a prison sentence for murder, entered politics as a central figure in the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP). Always a close ally of Johnny Adair, White was run out of Northern Ireland when Adair fell from grace and is no longer involved in loyalist activism.
John Gregg was a senior member of the UDA/UFF loyalist paramilitary organisation in Northern Ireland. In 1984, Gregg seriously wounded Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in an assassination attempt. From the 1990s until he was shot dead in 2003 by rival associates, Gregg served as brigadier of the UDA's South East Antrim Brigade. Widely known as a man with a fearsome reputation, Gregg was considered a "hawk" in some loyalist circles.
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.
John "Jackie" McDonald is a senior Northern Irish loyalist and the incumbent Ulster Defence Association (UDA) brigadier for South Belfast, having been promoted to the rank by former UDA commander Andy Tyrie in 1988, following John McMichael's killing by the Provisional IRA in December 1987. He is also a member of the organisation's Inner Council and the spokesman for the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG), the UDA's political advisory body.
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.
Stephen McKeag, nicknamed "Top Gun", was a Northern Irish loyalist paramilitary and a Commander of the Ulster Defence Association's (UDA) 'C' Company in the 1990s. He is responsible for many killings of Catholics and Republicans. He is also have thought to have shot the most Catholics in Northern Ireland. Although most of his operations took place from the Shankill Road in Belfast McKeag was actually a native of the lower Oldpark Road in the north of the city.
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 Elliot was a former Northern Irish loyalist who served as brigadier of the Ulster Defence Association's (UDA) East Belfast Brigade in the 1980s.
Alan McCullough was a leading Northern Irish loyalist and a member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). He served as the organisation's military commander for the West Belfast Brigade's notorious C Company which was then headed by Johnny Adair.
Wendy Millar also known as "Bucket" and "Queen of the UDA" is a Northern Irish loyalist and a founding member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). She established the first UDA women's unit on her native Shankill Road in Belfast. Her two sons Herbie and James "Sham" Millar are also high-profile UDA members and her daughter's husband is former West Belfast brigadier "Fat" Jackie Thompson.
James Millar – commonly known as "Sham" – is a Northern Irish loyalist paramilitary. Millar was a leading member of the West Belfast Brigade of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) until 2003 when he was one of a number of dissident members forcibly expelled from the group.
Gary Smyth is a Northern Irish former loyalist paramilitary. Smyth was an active member of the West Belfast Brigade of the Ulster Defence Association during the Troubles. He was known by the nickname "Smickers" throughout his paramilitary career, although he was also sometimes called "Chiefo".
Donald Hodgen is a Northern Irish loyalist and a former member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). He was best known as the commander and chief enforcer of West Belfast Brigade leader Johnny Adair's notorious C Company which operated on the Shankill Road.
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.
Jackie Coulter was a member of a loyalist paramilitary from Belfast, Northern Ireland who held the rank of lieutenant in 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.
The UDA South Belfast Brigade is the section of the Ulster loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), based in the southern quarter of Belfast, as well as in surrounding areas. Initially a battalion, the South Belfast Brigade emerged from the local "defence associations" active in the city at the beginning of the Troubles. It subsequently emerged as the largest of the UDA's six brigades and expanded to cover an area much wider than its initial South Belfast borders.