A report on Ulster loyalism

The Union Flag, Ulster Banner and Orange Order flags are often flown by loyalists in Northern Ireland
Ulster Volunteers in Belfast c.1914
Loyalist graffiti and banner on a building in a side street off the Shankill Road, Belfast (1970)
A UDA/UFF mural in Belfast
A UVF mural in Belfast
A loyalist marching band on The Twelfth, 2011

Strand of Ulster unionism associated with working class Ulster Protestants in Northern Ireland.

- Ulster loyalism
The Union Flag, Ulster Banner and Orange Order flags are often flown by loyalists in Northern Ireland

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The traditional counties of Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

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Part of the United Kingdom that is variously described as a country, province, territory or region.

Part of the United Kingdom that is variously described as a country, province, territory or region.

The traditional counties of Northern Ireland
Cannon on the Derry city walls
Scrabo Tower, County Down
Signing of the Ulster Covenant in 1912 in opposition to Home Rule
Result of the 1918 general election in Ireland
Crowds in Belfast for the state opening of the Northern Ireland Parliament on 22 June 1921
The Coat of arms of Northern Ireland used between 1924 and 1973
James Craig (centre) with members of the first government of Northern Ireland
Opening of the Northern Ireland parliament buildings (Stormont) in 1932
Responsibility for Troubles-related deaths between 1969 and 2001
First Minister Ian Paisley (DUP) centre, and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (Sinn Féin) left, and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond right in 2008
A flowchart illustrating all the political parties that have existed throughout the history of Northern Ireland and leading up to its formation (covering 1889 to 2020).
Parliament Buildings at Stormont, Belfast, seat of the assembly
Unionist mural in Belfast
ESA Sentinel-2 image of Northern Ireland
Köppen climate types of Northern Ireland
Lough Neagh
Hare's Gap, Mourne Mountains
The Giant's Causeway, County Antrim
Marble Arch Caves
Goliath crane of Harland & Wolff in Belfast
An NIR C3K railcar
2011 census: differences in proportions of those who are, or were brought up, either Catholic or Protestant/Other Christians
Map of predominant national identity in the 2011 census
Map of most commonly held passport
Approximate boundaries of the current and historical English/Scots dialects in Ulster. South to north, the colour bands represent Hiberno-English, South-Ulster English, Mid-Ulster English and the three traditional Ulster Scots areas. The Irish-speaking Gaeltacht is not shown.
Percentage of people aged 3+ claiming to have some ability in Irish in the 2011 census
Percentage of people aged 3+ claiming to have some ability in Ulster Scots in the 2011 census
An Orange march
The logo for the Northern Ireland assembly is based on the flower of the flax plant.
People carrying the Irish flag, overlooking those with the unionist Ulster Banner
George Best, Northern Irish international footballer and 1968 Ballon d'Or
Peter Canavan, Tyrone captain 2003
Prominent Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy
Queen's University Belfast
Broadcasting House, Belfast, home of BBC Northern Ireland

In the late 1960s, a campaign to end discrimination against Catholics and nationalists was opposed by loyalists, who saw it as a republican front.

Hazards of separation from Great Britain. Unionist postcard (1912)

Unionism in Ireland

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Political tradition on the island of Ireland that favours political union with Great Britain and professes loyalty to the British Crown and constitution.

Political tradition on the island of Ireland that favours political union with Great Britain and professes loyalty to the British Crown and constitution.

Hazards of separation from Great Britain. Unionist postcard (1912)
Detail of the Battle of Ballynahinch 1798 by Thomas Robinson. Government Yeomanry prepare to hang United Irish insurgent Hugh McCulloch, a grocer.
1899 penny print of Henry Cooke's 1841 speech in "reply to Daniel O'Connell"
William Gladstone writing legislation under pressure from the Land League. Caricature 1881.
God Save the Queen, Erin Go Bragh, Ulster Unionist Convention, Belfast, 1892
Flag of the Congested Districts Board for Ireland, 1893–1907
Unionist march in Belfast, 9 April 1912
Signing the Ulster Covenant Declaration, "Ulster Day” 1912
An Orange Order banner showing Carson the signing of the Ulster Covenant 1912
The 1918 general election result in Ireland. Sinn Féin sweeps the south and west
The Coat of Arms of the Government of Northern Ireland used between 1924 and 1973
The statue of Lord Edward Carson in front of Parliament Buildings, Stormont
Anti-Faulkner Unionist election poster
Mural for the Red Hand Commando (UVF) which, uniquely, had an Irish-language motto, Lamh Dearg Abu (Victory to the Red Hand)
Campaign against the Anglo-Irish Agreement
Detail from 2015 Sinn Féin election flyer, North Belfast
The cross of St. Patrick superimposed on the Scottish Saltire with a six-county star, Red Hand of Ulster and no crown: the "Ulster national flag" variously employed by Loyalist groups to represent an independent, or distinctly Ulster-Scot, Northern-Ireland identity.
A flowchart illustrating all the political parties that have existed throughout the history of Northern Ireland and leading up to its formation (1889 onwards). Unionist parties are in orange.

Joined by loyalist labour, on the eve of World War I this broad opposition to Irish self-government concentrated in Belfast and its hinterlands as Ulster Unionism, and prepared an armed resistance—the Ulster Volunteers.

A UVF publicity photo showing masked and armed UVF members on patrol in Belfast

Ulster Volunteer Force

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A UVF publicity photo showing masked and armed UVF members on patrol in Belfast
A UVF mural on the Shankill Road
An old UVF mural on the Shankill Road, where the group was formed
A UVF flag in Glenarm, County Antrim
UVF mural on the Shankill Road, where the Brigade Staff is based
The UVF received large numbers of Czechoslovak Sa vz. 58 automatic rifles in the 1980s
A UVF mural referencing the ceasefire
A UVF mural in Carrickfergus
Masked UVF Brigade Staff members at a press conference in October 1974. They are wearing part of the UVF uniform which earned them their nickname "Blacknecks"

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) is an Ulster loyalist paramilitary group.

Political map of Ireland

The Troubles

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Ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland that lasted about 30 years from the late 1960s to 1998.

Ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland that lasted about 30 years from the late 1960s to 1998.

Political map of Ireland
A "peace line" in Belfast, 2010, built to separate nationalist and unionist neighbourhoods
The Battle of the Boyne (12 July 1690) by Jan van Huchtenburg
The Ulster Covenant was issued in protest against the Third Home Rule Bill in September 1912.
The Proclamation of the Irish Republic was issued during the Easter Rising of April 1916.
Irish Boundary Commission final report map (1925) – religious distribution. The green areas signify catholic majority areas, the red areas signify non-catholic majority areas.
Sir James Craig, 1st Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, who said, "All I boast is that we are a Protestant Parliament and Protestant State".
A UVF mural in Belfast
A monument to Northern Ireland's first civil rights march
Loyalist banner and graffiti on a building in the Shankill area of Belfast, 1970
The Irish National Liberation Army began operations in the mid 1970s.
Republican mural in Belfast commemorating the hunger strikes of 1981
British Army in South Belfast, 1981
Grand Brighton Hotel after the IRA bomb attack in October 1984
'Sniper at Work' sign in Crossmaglen
Police officers looking at a burned van used by the IRA in the 1991 mortar attack on 10 Downing Street
The destruction caused by the Docklands bombing in London, 1996
A republican mural in Belfast during the mid-1990s bidding "safe home" (Slán Abhaile) to British troops. Security normalisation was one of the key points of the Good Friday Agreement.
A republican mural in Belfast with the slogan "Collusion is not an illusion"
Orangemen marching in Bangor on the Twelfth of July 2010
A watchtower at a heavily fortified RUC base in Crossmaglen
A "peace line" at the back of a house on Bombay Street, Belfast
Responsibility for Troubles-related deaths between 1969 and 2001
Troubles deaths by area
North East Boundary Bureau recommendations May 1923

Unionists and loyalists, who for historical reasons were mostly Ulster Protestants, wanted Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom.

Political map of Ireland

Partition of Ireland

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The process by which the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland divided Ireland into two self-governing polities: Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland.

The process by which the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland divided Ireland into two self-governing polities: Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland.

Political map of Ireland
Result in Ireland of the December 1910 United Kingdom general election showing a large majority for the Irish Parliamentary Party.
Ulster Volunteers marching in Belfast, 1914
Result of the 1918 general election in Ireland showing the dramatic swing in support for Sinn Féin
Catholic-owned businesses destroyed by loyalists in Lisburn, August 1920
Crowds in Belfast for the state opening of the Northern Ireland Parliament on 22 June 1921
Members of the Irish negotiation committee returning to Ireland in December 1921
North East Boundary Bureau recommendations May 1923
James Craig (centre) with members of the first government of Northern Ireland
The Boundary Commission's proposed changes to the border
A republican anti-partition march in London, 1980s

This led to the Home Rule Crisis (1912–14), when Ulster unionists/loyalists founded a paramilitary movement, the Ulster Volunteers, to prevent Ulster being ruled by an Irish government.

The Orange Order flag, incorporating the colour orange, the purple star of the Williamites and the Saint George's Cross

Orange Order

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International Protestant fraternal order based in Northern Ireland and primarily associated with Ulster Protestants, particularly those of Ulster Scots heritage.

International Protestant fraternal order based in Northern Ireland and primarily associated with Ulster Protestants, particularly those of Ulster Scots heritage.

The Orange Order flag, incorporating the colour orange, the purple star of the Williamites and the Saint George's Cross
The Orange Order flag, incorporating the colour orange, the purple star of the Williamites and the Saint George's Cross
William III ("William of Orange") King of England, Scotland and Ireland, Stadtholder of the Netherlands
Dolly's Brae, site of the "Battle of Dolly's Brae" (1849) between Orangemen and Catholic Ribbonmen
An Orange banner showing the signing of the Ulster Covenant
Orangeman James Craig, the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.
Drumcree Church near Portadown.
Orange Order poster depicting historical and religious symbols.
An Orange Hall in Ballinrees bedecked with Union Flags.
An anti-Orange Order sign in Rasharkin.
Orangemen parading in Bangor on 12 July 2010.
Rasharkin Orange hall daubed with republican graffiti.
Clifton Street Orange Hall in Belfast designed by William Batt and completed in 1889, which has a protective cage. The equestrian statue on the roof by Harry Hems is the only one of King William III of Ireland, Scotland and England on any Orange hall in Ireland.
Thiepval Memorial Lodge parade in remembrance of the Battle of the Somme.
Orangemen carrying a banner of killed UVF member and Orangeman Brian Robinson in 2003.
Stoneyford Orange Hall in County Antrim.
An Orangewoman marching in an Orange Order parade in Glasgow.
An Orange Hall in Monaghan
Orange parade in Glasgow (1 June 2003)
An Orange Order parade in Hyde Park, London, June 2007
An Orange parade in Toronto (1860s).
A picture of the Orange Order headquarters in New York City during the 1871 riot.
Flag of the Grand Orange Lodge of Australia.
Former Orange hall in Auckland, New Zealand, now a church.
Flag of the Grand Orange Lodge of New Zealand.

The Orange Order is a conservative, British unionist and Ulster loyalist organisation.

Emblem of the Ulster Defence Association

Ulster Defence Association

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Emblem of the Ulster Defence Association
UDA members marching through Belfast city centre, mid-1972
The flag of the "Ulster Freedom Fighters" with a clenched fist representing the Red Hand of Ulster and the Latin motto Feriens tego, meaning "striking I defend"
A UFF mural in the Kilcooley estate in Bangor
A UFF mural in the Sandy Row area of South Belfast
A UDA/UFF mural in Belfast
A UFF flag in Finvoy, a rural area of County Antrim
A UDA/UFF mural in Bangor
A UDA/UFF South-East Antrim Brigade mural in Newtownabbey
Some UDA leaders supported an independent Northern Ireland in the mid–late 1970s
A wall sign in Dervock showing support for the North Antrim and Londonderry brigade.
UDA South Belfast Brigade memorial plaque in Sandy Row

The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) is an Ulster loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland.

A 1685 plan of Belfast by the military engineer Thomas Phillips, showing the town's ramparts and Lord Chichester's castle, which was destroyed in a fire in 1708

Belfast

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Capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast.

Capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast.

A 1685 plan of Belfast by the military engineer Thomas Phillips, showing the town's ramparts and Lord Chichester's castle, which was destroyed in a fire in 1708
Volunteer Corps parade down High Street, Bastille Day, 1792
High Street, c. 1906
Aftermath of the Blitz in May 1941
Shankill Road during the Troubles, 1970s
Belfast City Hall
Stormont is home to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Aerial view of Belfast (2004)
Satellite image of Belfast with Lough
Cavehill, a basaltic hill overlooking the city
Royal Avenue
St Anne's Cathedral
Obel Tower is the tallest building in Belfast and Ireland.
Scottish Provident Institution, an example of Victorian architecture in Belfast
The Palm House at the Botanic Gardens
A recreation ground next to the Obel Tower. The Salmon of Knowledge is visible on the left.
A loyalist mural in Belfast
A 1907 stereoscope postcard depicting the construction of a passenger liner (the RMS Adriatic) at the Harland and Wolff shipyard
Samson and Goliath, Harland & Wolff's gantry cranes
The Waterfront Hall. Built in 1997, the hall is a concert, exhibition and conference venue.
Ulster University, Belfast campus
Silent Valley Reservoir, showing the brick-built overflow
George Best Belfast City Airport
Great Victoria Street station on Northern Ireland Railways
Glider bus rapid transit services opened in 2018.
AC/DC with Bon Scott (centre) pictured with guitarist Angus Young (left) and bassist Cliff Williams (back), performing at the Ulster Hall in August 1979
The Beatles emerging from the Ritz Cinema, Belfast, following their concert, 8 November 1963.
Broadcasting House, Belfast, Headquarters of the BBC in Northern Ireland.
Ravenhill Stadium is the home of Ulster Rugby
Titanic Belfast, devoted to the Belfast-built RMS Titanic, opened in 2012
Population density
Percentage Catholic or brought up Catholic
Most commonly stated national identity
Percentage born outside the UK and Ireland

These opposing groups in this conflict are now often termed republican and loyalist respectively, although they are also loosely referred to as 'nationalist' and 'unionist'.

Ulster Volunteers in Belfast, 1914

Ulster Volunteers

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Ulster Volunteers in Belfast, 1914
Ulster Volunteers in Belfast, 1914
Ulster Volunteer Force in 1914
A mural in Belfast showing four recipients of the Victoria Cross from the 36th (Ulster) Division, with the UVF logo in the middle

The Ulster Volunteers was a unionist, loyalist militia founded in 1912 to block domestic self-government ("Home Rule") for Ireland, which was then part of the United Kingdom.

An IRA badge, with the phoenix symbolising the origins of the Provisional IRA

Provisional Irish Republican Army

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Irish republican paramilitary organisation that sought to end British rule in Northern Ireland, facilitate Irish reunification and bring about an independent, socialist republic encompassing all of Ireland.

Irish republican paramilitary organisation that sought to end British rule in Northern Ireland, facilitate Irish reunification and bring about an independent, socialist republic encompassing all of Ireland.

An IRA badge, with the phoenix symbolising the origins of the Provisional IRA
The Proclamation of the Irish Republic, issued during the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule in Ireland
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, who was twice chief-of-staff of the pre-1969 IRA during the Border campaign of 1956–1962, was a member of the first Army Council of the Provisional IRA in 1969.
Martin McGuinness was part of an IRA delegation which took part in peace talks with British politician William Whitelaw, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in July 1972.
Memorial to the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings, which killed twenty-one people in November 1974
IRA political poster from the 1980s, featuring a quote from Bobby Sands written on the first day of the 1981 hunger strike
Aftermath of the Brighton hotel bombing, an assassination attempt on British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984
A "Sniper at Work" sign in Crossmaglen. The IRA's South Armagh Brigade killed seven members of the security forces in single-shot sniper attacks in 1993.
Memorial to the victims of the 1996 Docklands bombing, which killed two people and ended the IRA's seventeen-month ceasefire
An AG-3, Norwegian made variant of the Heckler & Koch G3. Over 50 of these, from a batch of 100 stolen from the Norwegian Army, ended up with the IRA.
The RPG-7, first obtained by the IRA from Libya in 1972
The Armalite AR-18, obtained by the IRA from the United States in the early 1970s, was a symbol of its armed campaign
Memorial to members of the IRA's Derry Brigade
Republican colour party in Dublin, March 2009. The blue flag being carried at the front is that of "Dublin Brigade IRA".
Former IRA volunteer Tommy McKearney, who left the IRA in 1986 and formed the League of Communist Republicans
1,200 AKM assault rifles were donated by Muammar Gaddafi in the 1980s
Over two tonnes of the plastic explosive Semtex were donated by Muammar Gaddafi in the 1980s
An IRA signpost with the word "Provoland" underneath in Omagh, County Tyrone

The Troubles had begun shortly before when a largely Catholic, nonviolent civil rights campaign was met with violence from both Ulster loyalists and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), culminating in the August 1969 riots and deployment of British soldiers.