|Disbanded||Group is active.|
|Updated||November 21, 2014|
Uster Defence Association (UDA)
Other/cover names include the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) and Red Hand Defenders (RHD). The youth wing is called Ulster Young Militants. The UDA was formed in 1971 out of a number of neighborhood watch groups and vigilante organizations in Belfast, which had emerged in response to the outbreak of the Troubles. The UDA quickly became the largest loyalist paramilitary organization and remained so throughout the Troubles. CAIN estimates its peak membership at 40,000 people.
The UDA used the UFF name as a cover for sectarian killings. Despite the well-established relationship, the UDA itself was not listed as a proscribed organization until 1992. This afforded UDA members greater freedom of movement and visibility than other paramilitary organizations throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, which they used to their advantage in their active role in the UWC and Loyalist strikes of the 1970’s, as well as during large public shows of strength. The UWC was largely made possible through the organizational support of the UDA.
The UDA has traditionally been a large and decentralized organization, now led by an inner council of six regionally-based leaders, each with veto power. Andy Tyrie had the longest tenure in control of the organization, from 1973 until he was forced to step down in 1988. His departure created a power vacuum within the organization which created the opportunity for a new group of younger militants (like Johnny Adair) to rise to power. He was replaced by the six-member inner council, and UDA leadership never again reached the degree of centralization that it had under Tyrie.
Several political wings, or affiliated sources of political analysis, have emerged from the UDA since the 1970’s. Most notably, the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) participated in the early phase of the Good Friday Agreement talks. However the UDA broke its ceasefire in late 1997, and the UDP was expelled from the talks as a result. The UDP failed to generate much electoral support subsequently and was formally dissolved in 2001.
In the early 2000’s, the UDA experienced internal divisions over the continued use of force. Some leaders within the organization such as Johnny Adair in Belfast, maintained a high profile, supported ongoing conflict and sectarian violence at interface areas, and participated in deadly feuds with the UVF. The organization was largely discredited during this period because of the violence and its ties to criminal activities. The UDA was unable to maintain the 1994 ceasefires, and in the years after the ceasefires there were 33 deaths attributed to the UDA, RHD or UFF (Sutton Index of Deaths). Nevertheless, the UDA managed to decommission its arsenal in 2010.
Sutton index of deaths: 113 (+ 147 for UFF and 8 for RHD)"
Loyalists 198 refers to "Lebanese arms."
See Loyalists, 120: "The UDA announced [in 1972] that it would give [William] Craig and his new party [the Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party] 100 per cent support."
The UDA used the Ulster Freedom Fighter name as a cover for sectarian killings.
Click on the maps below to visualize this group's interactions with other militant organizations