Ulster Defence Association
|“||Who will separate us?||„|
|~ The UDA motto|
The Ulster Defence Association (abbreviated UDA) 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.
The UDA/UFF were responsible for more than 400 deaths. The vast majority of its victims were Irish Catholic civilians, killed at random, in what the group called retaliation for IRA actions or attacks on Protestants. High-profile attacks carried out by the group include the Top of the Hill bar shooting, the Milltown massacre, the Sean Graham's and James Murray's bookmakers' shootings, the Castlerock killings and the Greysteel massacre. Most of its attacks were in Northern Ireland, but from 1972 onward it also carried out bombings in the Republic of Ireland, such as the Dublin Airport bombing. The UDA/UFF declared a ceasefire in 1994 and ended its campaign in 2007, but some of its members have continued to engage in violence under dissident groups such as Real UFF or Orange Volunteers, and some units continue to use the original name. The other main Loyalist paramilitary group during the conflict was the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). All three groups are Proscribed Organisations in the United Kingdom under the Terrorism Act 2000, as well as the OV. Many of these groups are also involved in criminal activities such as drug distribution.
On March 4, 2021 the UDA and UVF, represented by the Loyalist Communities Council, withdrew support from the Good Friday Agreement in response to the Northern Ireland Protocol. As a result, these groups could theoretically resume armed conflict at any time.
Timeline of actions
October 31, 1972: Benny's Bar bombing. The UDA detonates a car bomb outside Benny's Bar, killing two Catholic girls outside and injuring 12 civilians inside the pub.
December 20, 1972: Top of the Hill Bar shooting. 5 civilians, including one Protestant, are killed and 4 are injured.
November 29, 1975: Dublin Airport bombing. 1 civilian is killed and 13 are injured.
December 20, 1975: The UDA bombs Biddy Mulligan's Pub in London, injuring 5. This was the first UDA attack in Great Britain.
June 5, 1976: The UDA assassinates Sinn Fein member Colm Mulgrew.
October 28, 1976: UDA and UVF gunmen assassinate Sinn Fein vice president Maire Drumm.
March 14, 1984: The UDA fires on a car carrying four Sinn Fein leaders including president Gerry Adams, wounding them.
March 16, 1988: Milltown Cemetery attack: A UDA member throws grenades at people attending a funeral for 3 PIRA members, then fires on them, killing 3 and injuring 60.
May 25, 1991: The UDA assassinates Sinn Fein councilor Eddie Fullerton in Buncrana, Ireland.
February 5, 1992: Sean Graham bookmakers' shooting. 5 civilians are killed and 9 wounded, all Catholic.
March 25, 1993: Castlerock shooting. 4 Catholic civilians and one PIRA member are killed at a construction site.
October 30, 1993: Greysteel massacre. 8 civilians, two Protestant, are killed and 12 are injured in a shooting during a Halloween party at the Rising Sun Bar.
April 3, 2002:UDA members start a riot in a Catholic neighborhood of North Belfast.
September 10-12, 2005:UDA and UVF members riot in Belfast and Antrim following an Orange Order parade being re-routed. During the violence they kidnap a BBC cameraman.
- The nickname "Wombles" comes from their fur-trimmed parkas, which resembled characters on a popular children's stop-motion animated TV series of the same name.