Crimes of Loyalty: A History of the UDA

Crimes of Loyalty: A History of the UDA

Crimes of Loyalty: A History of the UDA

Crimes of Loyalty: A History of the UDA


Sectarian murder, torture, bloody power struggles and racketeering are what for many define their image of the Ulster Defence Association. Yet as Northern Ireland's Troubles worsened in 1971 and 1972, it emerged with a mass membership to defend Loyalist areas against the IRA and to uphold the Union with Britain. By 1974 it was able to defy the will of an elected government and it went on to formulate political strategies for working-class Loyalism.Ian S. Wood uses his specialist knowledge as well as extensive interviews to recount these events and the ruthless war waged by the UDA on the nationalist community. He explores issues such as the UDA's descent into criminality and its relationship with the 'secret war' conducted by Britain's undercover services and he assesses what impact the organisation had on the outcome of Europe's worst political and ethnic conflict between 1945 and the break-up of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia after 1990.


We marched in orderly lines
Thousands of us
Our stars of David sewn on
To our bright new rags
We clutched our possessions
As we marched along
They said our war was over

We sang quietly whilst on the move
Songs that our forefathers sung
And we were proud in the knowledge
That we were Jews
They said the meek would inherit the earth

As they herded us in we saw
The over-head pipes
They said it was to provide heat
But the odour of gas over-whelms us
When we were marching
We should have been fighting

This poem, entitled ‘Our Way’, was written by Sammy Duddy and appeared in a collection of his work published in Belfast in 1983. The venture was supported by the Ulster Defence Association, in which the author had been active ever since its emergence more than ten years earlier. Andy Tyrie, the organisation’s then commandant, wrote an introduction and the work was dedicated ‘To all the long-suffering people of Ulster that they may see the light’. The author has always said that he wrote ‘Our Way’ with the thought that Northern Ireland’s Loyalist population could, like the Jews of Europe in the Second World War, end up acquiescing in their own fate, not genocide but the extinction of their identity and culture.

Duddy appears briefly in a recent book on Ulster Loyalists which dismisses him as ‘Andy Tyrie’s court jester’ without so much as a reference to his writing. All who have met him would agree that he is excellent company and an unfailing source of good craic but his poems capture something of the grief and trauma inflicted by the Troubles on both communities in Northern Ireland. He has escaped death more than once and threats forced him to leave his native . . .

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