From the Loyalist blog It's Still Only Thursday, a fifth piece in a series looking at 'legitimate targets' during the North's politically violent conflict.
Part 5: The UDA and the Ulster Freedom Fighters
The Ulster Defence Association was formed in September, 1971, as an umbrella organisation for the various local vigilante groups that had sprung up in and around Belfast to physically defend Loyalist neighbourhoods from violent republican attacks.
The UDA quickly grew into a mass movement and by about 1974 had over 40,000 members across Northern Ireland. Throughout the 1970s, uniformed UDA members openly patrolled working class Loyalist areas armed with batons, cudgels and other weapons (often homemade) and held huge public marches and rallies.
By the Mid 1970s, the Ulster Defence Association was truly a mass movement, with 10 brigades across NI and a large number of battalions in England and Scotland. Glasgow, London, Liverpool, Ayrshire and the Greater Manchester area all had a significant UDA presence, with volunteers providing financial, moral, logistical and sometimes physical support to their comrades in Ulster.
Although the UDA drew most of it’s membership from working class districts across Northern Ireland, it was not an exclusively working class movement, nor (as is often portrayed) was it an exclusively male movement.
Continue reading @ It's Still Only Thursday.