Current Affairs History Politics

Margaret Thatcher And The “Valiant” UVF

Joint footpatrol of British UDA terrorists and British Army soldiers
Joint footpatrol of British UDA terrorists and British Army soldiers, British Occupied North of Ireland, 1970s

Throughout the late 20th century and into the early 21st century the Ulster Volunteer Force or UVF was one of the largest British terrorist organisations on the island of Ireland. From its establishment in 1965 to its cessation of attacks in 2007 the grouping was responsible for thousands of acts of major and minor terrorism. Indeed the forty year war which blighted the north-east of Ireland under the euphemistic title of “the Troubles” began in 1966 with a series of gun and bomb attacks by the UVF that left several people dead, including a 74 year old grandmother and an 18 year old teenager.

Yet the organisation was intimately connected to the British military and paramilitary forces in Ireland, and beyond them the British government itself. Many members of the UVF were serving or former members of the British Army or of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the notorious paramilitary police in the Occupied North of Ireland. They served as soldiers and policemen by day – and gunmen and bombers by night.

Margaret Thatcher touring the British Occupied North of Ireland in 1981 wearing a beret of the UDR, an infamous British Army militia responsible for scores of terrorist attacks during the 1970s, '80s and '90s
Margaret Thatcher touring the British Occupied North of Ireland in 1981 wearing a beret of the UDR, an infamous British Army militia responsible for scores of terrorist attacks during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s

From the early 1970s onwards the British military and intelligence services organised, trained, armed and financed all the main British terrorist factions in Ireland including the UVF. However, despite the fact that they supposedly fought as part of Britain’s counter-insurgency war against Irish Republicanism the British terror gangs rarely targeted other combatants. Tellingly some 86% of the UVF’s victims were members of the civilian population: Irish men, women and children.

This was not counter-insurgency. This was state-terrorism.

So much so that by the late 1970s even the British no longer could tell the difference between their military, paramilitary and terrorist arms in Ireland. From the Irish human rights organisation, the Pat Finucane Centre, come’s this revelation about Margaret Thatcher’s knowledge of the war against the “Irish liars“:

“As Margaret Thatcher is laid to rest we thought it appropriate to publish two documents we found in the British National Archives. Both have been published before in the chapter we contributed on Loyalist [British terrorist] infiltration of the UDR.

The first document contains the minutes of a meeting between the then head of the Conservative opposition in 1975 (Margaret Thatcher) and the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, just weeks after the Miami Showband Massacre involving members of the UDR. At page 3 the following fascinating admission is made:

the Secretary of State said….

‘Unfortunately there were certain elements in the police who were very close to the UVF, and who were prepared to hand over information, for example, to Mr Paisley. The Army’s judgement was that the UDR was heavily infiltrated by extremist Protestants, and that in a crisis situation they could not be relied on to be loyal.’

Let no-one claim that the levels of collusion between the RUC, UDR and Loyalist paramilitaries was not known at the highest levels of the British Government and opposition.

The second document also concerns the UVF only by this stage, 1979, Thatcher is the Prime Minister. In a hand written note she urged mention of the‘Volunteer Ulster Defence Regiment (? Is that the name)’. Her officials clearly had difficulty reading her handwriting and the typed version of her comment reads.

(viii) The Prime Minister would also like to see some reference to the valiant work being carried by the Ulster Volunteer Force.

Apparently neither she not her officials were fully cognisant of the difference between the UDR, the largest regiment in the British Army, and the UVF, a Loyalist paramilitary group. On this point at least she found herself in agreement with the [Irish] Nationalist/ Republican community.”

Indeed.

The British government acknowledges the infiltration of the RUC and the UDR by the British terror factions in Ireland, London, 1975
The British government acknowledges the infiltration of the RUC and the UDR by the British terror factions in Ireland, London, 1975
British prime minister Margaret Thatcher confuses the UVF, a British terrorist group in Ireland, with the UDR, a British Army militia in Ireland, 1979
British prime minister Margaret Thatcher confuses the UVF, a British terrorist group in Ireland, with the UDR, a British Army militia in Ireland, 1979

6 comments on “Margaret Thatcher And The “Valiant” UVF

  1. If all Irish are lairs (as she said to Mandelson) does that include Loyalists?

  2. Are you sure about your dates? I recall the Troubles beginning in 1969, and the ‘Loyalist’ thugs were the B Specials. I don’t think there was a UVF until later. Remember also that the Brits initially came in to keep the two sides apart, under I think a Labour government. The think to remember is that the “Irish Question” is completely incomprehensible to anyone in the UK, governments included. They do what they do according to their own agendas. To please their own UK electorate. What puzzles me is why political change in Ireland has always involved so much violence, compared to other ‘colonised’ parts of the UK. This I think is a valid question, regardless of which side is being violent.

    • I’m afraid so. The resuscitated UVF came into being in late 1965 which was led by several ex-members of the British Armed Forces who had earlier been active with a local anti-Irish and anti-Catholic vigilante group founded in 1956 called the Ulster Protestant Association. From my post here:

      “The so-called “Troubles” did not begin at the end of 1969 with the formation of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, or in the early months of 1970 with the first attacks by PIRA units (the first British soldier was not killed until 1971!). In fact the conflict had been going on for several years previous to this (the Provisional IRA came into existence on the 28th of December 1969. The day before on the 27th the UVF carried out a bomb attack in Dublin city!).

      The first violence, the first killings, the first shootings, the first bombings of the Troubles began in 1966. Over a period of several months terrorists from the British separatist minority in Ireland, the UVF, murdered three people, two Roman Catholic men and a Protestant woman, as well as injuring a number of others and causing substantial damage to property. The objective was simple, something they made clear in a statement issued to the general public:

      “From this day, we declare war against the Irish Republican Army and its splinter groups. Known IRA men will be executed mercilessly and without hesitation. Less extreme measures will be taken against anyone sheltering or helping them, but if they persist in giving them aid, then more extreme methods will be adopted… we solemnly warn the authorities to make no more speeches of appeasement. We are heavily armed Protestants dedicated to this cause.”

      And the cause? Killing Irish men, women and children, and driving those who survived from the last remnants of Britain’s colony in Ireland. This is the start of the Troubles. The British ethnic minority in Ireland using violence and the threat of violence to intimidate and terrorise the majority population on the island. As it was throughout the last 300 years.

      The Facts of the Troubles the Media don’t want you to know:

      The first shooting of civilian targets in the “Troubles”? British terrorists, 1966.

      The first bombing of civilian targets in the “Troubles? British terrorists, 1968.

      The first ethnic cleansing of civilian targets in the “Troubles”? British terrorists, 1969.

      The first killing of a paramilitary police officer in the “Troubles”? British terrorists, 1969.

      The first bombing of a capital city in the “Troubles”? British terrorists, 1969.

      The first armed action of the Provisional IRA in the “Troubles”? 1970

      The first killing of a British soldier? 1971″

      To answer your question “What puzzles me is why political change in Ireland has always involved so much violence, compared to other ‘colonised’ parts…?”. Because no other parts were colonised with such violence.

  3. The points raised here are of huge relevance. Has any of this been mentioned in the wider journalistic world yet?

  4. ceannaire1

    BD, off course they know this. The facts are there, always have been, obviously.
    But why ruin a good yarn!!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: