Northern Ireland organisations

  • 15 September 2005
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^^On Saturday 10 September, violence erupted in Northern Ireland after the re-routing of an Orange Order parade in The following organisations are involved:

Ulster Volunteer Force

Usually regarded as the most stable of the loyalist paramilitary groups, the UVF was heavily involved in this week's violence. Its members opened fire on the PSNI and British Army for three consecutive nights in Belfast and it was blamed for orchestrating the violence. As a result of its involvement in the riots, and its role in an ongoing feud with the Loyalist Volunteer Force which has claimed four lives since July, its ceasefire was declared void by Peter Hain on 13 September 2005. Its political wing, the Progressive Unionist Party led by David Ervine, now has little or no influence within the UVF. The UVF's Shankill Road commander was badly injured in the disturbances.


A UVF splinter group set up to oppose the peace process in 1996 by Billy Wright, a former UVF gunman, who was later shot dead by the INLA in the Maze Prison in December 1997. The LVF is heavily involved in drug dealing and has a power base in Mid-Ulster, with pockets of support in Belfast. Its existence is a running sore for the UVF, who bitterly resent its control of the drug-trade. It is currently involved in a feud with the UVF which has left two of its members dead in recent weeks. The LVF were not invovoled in the recent violence.

Ulster Defence Association

The largest loyalist paramilitary organisation, its members were also involved in the violence. In 2001, its ceasefire was declared void by then Secretary of State , John Reid, because of its involvement in a feud with the UVF. In 2004 its ceasefire was reinstated and since then it has mainly concentrated on criminality and drug dealing. The group is divided between six geographical areas in Northern Ireland, headed by six commanders who enjoy autonomy in their area. On 13 September 2005, its north Belfast ‘brigade' appealed for an end to the violence.

Orange Order

An exclusively Protestant organisation which bars Catholics from membership, it organises Orange marches across Northern Ireland to celebrate the victory of King Billy over Catholics at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Its membership is in the tens of thousands. It refuses to enter into dialogue with nationalist residents' groups who often want the parades re-routed from Catholic areas.
It called on Protestants to come out in their thousands to protest against the10 September re-routing of the Orange Order's Springfield parade. PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde said the Order bore a ‘heavy responsibility' for this week's violence. However its leader in Belfast, Dawson Bailie, refused to condemn the violence and instead blamed the PSNI, the Secretary of State and the Parades Commission. Its Grand Master, Robert Saulters, later said the Orange Order was ‘blameless' and blamed the violence on frustration within unionism.

Parades Commission

A body headed by seven members, appointed by the Secretary of State, who make determinations on whether or not a parade can march along a contentious route. It was established in 1997 and has become a bogey-man for unionists who accuse it of undermining Protestant culture. Nationalists have also condemned it. The Orange Order refuses to recognise the authority of the Commission.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)

The PSNI was created as a succecessor for the old Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in 2001 as a result of policing reforms stemming from the Good Friday Agreement. A number of reforms were recommended to make the police more acceptable to nationalists. The PSNI is still mainly Protestant but, partly as a result of the reforms and loyalist paramilitary criminality, their relationship with the Protestant community is at a low-ebb.
colm heatley