Loyalist Volunteer Force: Wikis


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Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF)
Participant in The Troubles
Flag of the Loyalist Volunteer Force.svg
A flag used by LVF supporters
Active August 1996 – October 2005
Ideology Ulster loyalism
Leaders Billy Wright;[1] Mark Fulton;[2] Jim Fulton[3]
Headquarters Portadown
Area of
Northern Ireland
Strength Unknown
Originated as Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Allies Ulster Defence Association (UDA)[4]
Opponents Irish republicans, Irish nationalists

The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) is a loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland. It was formed by Billy Wright when the Mid-Ulster brigade of the UVF, which he commanded, was stood down by that organisation's leadership in Belfast. Wright subsequently broke away from the UVF to form a new rival organisation. The LVF is outlawed as a terrorist organization in the UK and Republic of Ireland. The United States has designated it a terrorist organisation also.[5] The LVF have killed 18 people. 13 were civilians, 1 was a former Provisional IRA member, and 3 were UVF members. The LVF have also killed one of its own members.




Early days

Billy Wright was the leader of the Mid Ulster Brigade of the UVF.[6] In October 1994, the UVF and other loyalist paramilitary groups called a ceasefire. Internal differences between Wright and the UVF's brigade staff in Belfast came to a head in July 1996, during the Drumcree parade dispute. The Orange Order was being stopped from marching through the nationalist Garvaghy area of Portadown. There was a standoff at Drumcree Church between thousands of Orangemen and their supporters on one side, and the security forces on the other. Wright was angered that the parade was being blocked, and was often to be seen at Drumcree with Harold Gracey, head of the Portadown Orange Lodge.[7] On 7 July, a day into the standoff, members of Wright's brigade[7][8] shot dead a Catholic taxi driver near Aghagallon. Wright's brigade smuggled homemade weaponry to Drumcree, apparently unhindered by the Orangemen.[7] Allegedly, the brigade also had plans to drive petrol tankers into the nationalist housing estates and then ignite them.[9]

For breaking the ceasefire,[6] Wright's Mid Ulster Brigade was "stood down" by the UVF leadership on 2 August 1996.[10] Wright then took most of the brigade members with him and set up the LVF.

Although behind many activities in the Mid-Ulster area –centred on the Lurgan/Portadown area– including many attacks on civilians, Wright was finally charged with menacing behaviour and sentenced to eight years at the Maze prison.[11][12] There he demanded a separate wing for the LVF prisoners. The authorities agreed and the wing became a gathering point for various dissident shades of loyalist paramilitaries, including many from Belfast and north Down.[13]

Death of Billy Wright

On the morning of 27 December 1997, Wright was assassinated by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) inside Maze Prison. The operation was undertaken by three INLA volunteers – Christopher "Crip" McWilliams, John Glennon and John Kennaway – armed with two pistols.[14] The three were imprisoned in the same block as Wright. He was shot as he travelled in a prison van (alongside another LVF prisoner and two guards) from one part of the prison to another.[14] After killing Wright, the three volunteers handed themselves over to prison guards.[14] They also handed over a statement:

Billy Wright was executed for one reason and on reason only, and that was for directing and waging his campaign of terror against the nationalist people from his prison cell in Long Kesh.[14]

That night, LVF gunmen opened fire on the dance hall of the Glengannon Hotel, near Dungannon.[15] The hotel was owned by Catholics and about 400 teenagers were attending a disco there.[15] Three civilians were wounded and one, a former Provisional IRA volunteer, was killed.[15] Police believed that the disco itself was the intended target, rather than the ex-volunteer.[15] Witnesses said it was "an attempt at mass-murder".[15]

Some loyalists believed that prison authorities colluded with the INLA in Wright's killing. The INLA strongly denied these rumours, and published a detailed account of the assassination in the March/April 1999 issue of The Starry Plough newspaper.[14]

Good Friday Agreement and ceasefire

In March 1998, during the negotiations for the Good Friday Agreement, the LVF issued a statement expressing support for the stance of the anti-agreement Democratic Unionist Party, saying the party's leader, Ian Paisley, had got it "absolutely right".[16] Members of the DUP - including prominent member of parliament Rev. William McCrea - appeared on public platforms with LVF leaders, including Billy Wright.[17][18]

In May 1998 it called a ceasefire and urged people to vote No in the Referendum. The Northern Ireland Office accepted its ceasefire in November making its prisoners eligible for the early release scheme under the Good Friday Agreement. Later, it handed over a small amount of weapons to the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning. The weapons; four sub-machine guns, two rifles, two pistols, a sawn-off shotgun, 348 rounds of ball ammunition, 31 shotgun shells, five electrical detonators, two pipe bombs, two weapons stocks and five assorted magazines, were destroyed and recorded via video.

Post-ceasefire activities

The Secretary of State was moved to declare on 12 October 2001 that the government no longer recognised their ceasefire.[19]

Wright's successor as LVF leader, Mark Fulton, was found hanged in Maghaberry prison in 2002. He is believed to have committed suicide.[20]

Following a particularly bloody feud with the UVF in the summer of 2005, and loyalist violence in Belfast city that September, the LVF announced in October 2005 that it was standing down following the IRA's previous standing down and disarmament. [21] In February 2006, the Independent Monitoring Commission confirmed that the feud with the UVF was over, but said that the LVF's involvement with organized crime and drug trafficking continued, describing it as a "deeply criminal organization".

The twentieth IMC report stated that the group was small and without political purpose. Most of its violence was more criminal than paramilitary in nature. Its members who continue violent activity do so for personal gain and only associate with the organisation at large when it is expedient to do so. The report said that simple aggressive police work could damage the group's continuance.[22]

Timeline of attacks

In total, the LVF have killed 18 people,[23] which included:

The following is a timeline of the LVF's attacks and attempted attacks:

  • 7 July 1996: In Aghagallon, the LVF shot dead a Catholic taxi driver while he sat in his car. The gunmen then set the car alight. This was believed to be a response to the Drumcree parade dispute; that the Orange Order was being stopped from marching through the nationalist Garvaghy area of Portadown.[24] Members of the group smuggled homemade weaponry to Drumcree, apparently unhindered by the Orangemen.[7]
  • 12 May 1997: The LVF kidnapped and a Catholic civilian as he left Bellaghy GAA club. He was shot dead and his body found the next day in a burt-out car[25]
  • 14 May 1997: The LVF tried to kill a Catholic taxi driver in Milford, but he escaped when the gun jammed[25]
  • 24 May 1997: The LVF planted a bomb in Dundalk, but it was defused by Gardaí (Irish police)[25]
  • 2 July 1997: The LVF threatened to kill Catholic civilians if the Drumcree parade planned for 6 July was not allowed to proceed along the nationalist Garvaghy Road[25]
  • 15 July 1997: The LVF shot dead a Catholic civilian in Aghalee. She was shot in the head as she slept in the home of her Protestant boyfriend's parents[25]
  • 24 July 1997: The LVF kidnapped a Catholic civilian outside Newcastle, County Down. He was tortured, beaten to death with a hammer, and his body set alight. His burnt and mutilated body was found three days later in a waterlogged ditch near Clough[25][26]
  • 5 August 1997: The LVF tried to kill a Catholic taxi driver in Lurgan, but he escaped when the gun jammed[25]
  • 5 August 1997: The LVF left four small bombs in Dundalk. The Gardaí removed the "suspicious devices" for examination[25]
  • 5 December 1997: The LVF shot dead a Catholic civilian outside a GAA club in Glengormley[25]
  • 27 December 1997: The LVF shot dead a Catholic civilian and wounded three others outside a hotel in Dungannon[25]
  • 10 January 1998: The LVF shot dead a Catholic civilian on Talbot Street, Belfast. He was a cross-community worker who helped steer young people away from violence[27]
  • 18 January 1998: The LVF kidnapped and shot dead a Catholic civilian in Maghera[27]
  • 23 January 1998: The LVF shot dead a Catholic construction worker on Hesketh Road, Belfast[27]
  • 24 January 1998: The LVF shot dead a Catholic taxi driver and left his body on Upper Glen Road, Belfast[27]
  • 25 January 1998: The LVF shot and wounded a Catholic civilian in Lurgan. The man was sitting in the cab of a lorry when a lone gunman shot at him several times[27]
  • 27 January 1998: The LVF tried to kill a Catholic taxi driver in North Belfast, but he escaped when the gun jammed[27]
  • 3 March 1998: The LVF shot dead a Catholic and Protestant civilian in the Railway Bar, Poyntzpass. The two were close friends[27]
  • 5 March 1998: The LVF carried out a gun attack on a house in a mainly-Protestant area of Antrim. It was owned by a Protestant woman with a Catholic husband. The woman and her daughter were wounded[27]
  • 21 April 1998: The LVF shot dead a Catholic civilian in Portadown. He was the first victim of the conflict since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement[27]
  • 25 April 1998: The LVF shot dead a Catholic civilian in Crumlin[27]
  • 2 July 1998: The LVF set fire to ten Catholic churches and fired petrol bombs at the houses of two Catholics in Derry[27]
  • 5 June 1999: The LVF killed a Protestant civilian in Portadown when they threw a pipe bomb through the window of her house. She was married to a Catholic man[28]
  • 10 January 2000: The LVF shot dead a UVF member on Derrylettiff Road near Portadown. Part of a loyalist feud[29]
  • 26 May 2000: The LVF shot dead a UVF member on Silverstream Park, Belfast. Part of a loyalist feud[29]
  • 11 April 2001: The LVF shot dead a UVF member in Tandragee. Part of a loyalist feud[30]


  1. ^ "LVF repeats peace pledge" BBC News, 30 October 1998; retrieved 24 July 2009
  2. ^ "Anger at loyalist grave memorial" BBC News, 2 October 2007; retrieved 24 July 2009
  3. ^ "Loyalist murderer's appeal fails" BBC News, 12 June 2009; retrieved 24 July 2009
  4. ^ David Lister and Hugh Jordan, Mad Dog: The Rise and Fall of Johnny Adair
  5. ^ Terrorist Exclusion List, US State Department
  6. ^ a b Loyalists' feud calls halt to ceasefire Sunday Herald, 9 July 2000
  7. ^ a b c d McKay, Susan. Northern Protestants: An Unsettled People - Portadown. Blackstaff Press (2000).
  8. ^ "Murder was 'present' for terror leader" The Telegraph, 8 January 2003; retrieved 24 July 2009
  9. ^ Coogan, Tim. The Troubles: Ireland's Ordeal 1966-1995 and the Search for Peace. Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. Page 517.
  10. ^ "UVF disbands unit linked to taxi murder" The Independent, 3 August 1996; retrieved 18 October 2009
  11. ^ The Scotsman
  12. ^ UTV
  13. ^ Taylor, Peter (1999). Loyalists. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 244. ISBN 0-7475-4519-7. 
  14. ^ a b c d e [http://irsm.org/irsp/starryplough/99-03.04/howinla.html The Starry Plough - March/April 1999. Page 10-11.
  15. ^ a b c d e Provos in crisis talks to try to restrain hardliners Irish News, 29 December 1997
  16. ^ Air services to return to normal after strike deal Irish News, 9 March 1998
  17. ^ The gospel-singing MP BBC Northern Ireland, 22 September 2000
  18. ^ David McKittrick (23 April 1997). "Election '97: Voters dream of day when hope and history rhyme". The Independent. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19970423/ai_n14113046. Retrieved 25 March 2007. 
  19. ^ Politicans assess ceasefire end BBC News, 13 October 2001
  20. ^ Killer of Rosemary Nelson named; Loyalist Mark Fulton is revealed as Sunday Herald, 16 June 2002
  21. ^ Irish Examiner
  22. ^ Twentieth Report Independent Monitoring Commission
  23. ^ CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths: Organisation responsible for the death
  24. ^ A Chronology of the Conflict - 1996 CAIN Web Service (Conflict Archive on the INternet)
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j A Chronology of the Conflict - 1997 CAIN Web Service (Conflict Archive on the INternet)
  26. ^ UVF link to brutal murder An Phoblacht, 31 July 1997
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k A Chronology of the Conflict - 1996 CAIN Web Service (Conflict Archive on the INternet)
  28. ^ A Chronology of the Conflict - 1999 CAIN Web Service (Conflict Archive on the INternet)
  29. ^ a b A Chronology of the Conflict - 2000 CAIN Web Service (Conflict Archive on the INternet)
  30. ^ A Chronology of the Conflict - 2001 CAIN Web Service (Conflict Archive on the INternet)

Further reading


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