Northern Ireland, The Positions

by Paul D. Kenny
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Note: I first wrote this in 1988, when I designed the game. A lot has happened since then, including the Mitchell initiative which means Northern Ireland is seeing a long ceasefire. I will try to update this in time. -PDK

The British / Ulster Defence Regiment (Brit): The current bosses of Northern Ireland. These are the big guns to obey or revolt against. The Northern Ireland Home Secretary is Sir Patrick Mayhew. Included here is the SAS (Special Air Service), a commando unit that specializes in hit and run tactics, sort of on the order of the United States' Black Barrets, and very effective against unarmed civilians. MI5 and MI6 are involved, as well as other international commando visitors from other countries learning crowd control, (Such as Austrailia and South Africa). Average strenght is around 18,000.

The Ulster Defense Regiment (UDR) was a British army unit of recruited Irish loyalists. It was a 6,000 strong Northern Ireland national guard. This is why the British player can raise troops in Ireland. It was created in 1970 to replace the RUC's B-Specials (which was worse). There duties were replaced with the Irish Rangers, who they were merged with in 1992 when the British government wanted to consolidate the British Army. The UDR had a very bad reputation, one which the Irish Rangers are picking up quickly. It was predominantly Loyalist Protestant. Catholics are not very welcome; those Catholics who do join were distrusted by the other UDR members, considered traitors by the nationalist community, and hunted down and killed by the loyalist paramilitaries.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) is the Northern Ireland Police. The RUC is Irish, but loyal to the Crown, (In fact, an oath to the Crown goes along with the job). It's understood that one also has to be a member of the Orange Order, a fiercely anti-Catholic loyalist organization. They have been accused of a "Shoot to Kill" policy, where instead of arresting the suspect and going through a trial, the suspects are simply killed. European pressure moved London to start an investigation. Deputy Cheif Constable of Greater Manchester John Stalker was asked to undertake the inquiry of six such killings. Stalker had a perfect, unblemished record in the largest metropolitan city in England. Just before he was to get some information that may have been highly embarrassing to the RUC, he was suspended on vague charges that were later dropped.

There have been numberous other members of the British Ministry of War that have spoken out against some of the practices of their armed forces, stating that they have gone too far. Usually the British Government has made an example out of them.

There is one thing to remember about the British "peacetime" military, is that they tend to join for life at age 16, unlike their American counterparts who join for 4 years at age 18. So now you can have a 17 year old soldier with an assault rifle patroling a neighborhood where the population isn't exactly happy to see him and one rock thrown by an 11 year old, well, you can guess the rest. So the British are in a publicity damage control situation.

  • Ulster Defense Association (UDA): The main Protestant (that is, Free Presbyterian) Orangeman army, they are armed to the teeth and ready for war. Ironically, until 1992, this was a legal "association" and had its headquarters in downtown Belfast.

    It is said the UDA is organized into eight 'brigades': 4 in Belfast, and one each in County Down, Londonderry, Mid Ulster and Southeast Antrim. Very Unionist, until the '80's where elements in the UDA and UVF have been calling for a separate Protestant Northern Ireland state. Sometimes uses the alias Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), Vanguard, Red Hand Commandos, etc. Interestingly, this group's sole purpose for existance is not a national militia against foreign invasion, but to intimidate a people, equivilent to the Ku Klux Klan. It used to also be legal for a member of the RUC or UDR to also be a member of the UDA.

  • Ulster Volunteers Force (UVF): rival to UDA. Lord Edward Carson formed the original UVF in 1912 to oppose Home Rule. To prove themselves worthy of the British, they joined their army during WWI, and was practically wiped out at the battle of the Somme. In 1966, Gusty Spence, an ex-military policeman who served in Cyprus started a sectarian terrorist army and he named it after Lord Carson's army. This is the Reverand Ian Paisley's favorite army, who is cheering from the sidelines, (he's the Free Presbyterian Church minister who started the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP, very Orange). Paisley is notorious for railing that something should be done about the "disloyal catholics" who were doing something, like taking "protestant jobs" or moving into "protestant areas." When some catholics were murdered, he would condem the killings, so to stay out of legal trouble, then excuse the actual killers. He would then condem the Sinn Fein for supporting murder.

    The UVF was also legal for a long time, even though they are not a militia. The UVF was outlawed for a short period while (moderate Protestent) Terrence O'Neill was Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, but the British legalized it again in 1974. Recently, in 1989, they were outlawed again after a large number of civilian sectarian killings. In 1993, their Portadown brigade claimed responsiblity for the Dublin and Monaghan bombing, (May 16, 1974), where 33 people were killed and many wounded, the bloodiest bombing in the British Isles since the German Blitz). Together with the UDA, they are responsible for over 600 civilian assassinations.

    They sometimes use the name Protestant Action Force when they engage in sectatian killings. Recently, they took a page from the Provisional IRA's book and formed unit "cells" to avoid identification. It is also said that they are being helped by MI5. Estimated active strength: 300 members.

    The first bombing in Northern Ireland was at the hands of the UVF. The Catholic killed was killed by the UVF. and the worst of the bombing that Ireland has experienced, was by the hands of the UVF.

    Recently, the UVF has responded to the calls for peace, and is one of the groups who are part of the ceasefire. Loyalists Billy Hutcherson and Gusty Spence have called on their fellow loyalist to work with the peace process. Several splinter groups broke off denouncing the peace process as selling out to the Nationalists. The Red Hand Defenders are probably the same group as the old Red Hand Commandos. Recently they have been fire-bombing homes of Catholics and are thought to be responsible for the murder of Loyalist ...Curry. (!Get first name)

  • Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA): This is the original IRA, the people who fought the 1916 Easter Uprising under Padraig Pearse and John Connally, and the Black and Tan war under Michael Collins when they were the military arm of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. They didn't recognize the three 'illegal' parliaments of London, Dublin, and Stormont. Today they are known as the "Stickies", (for sticking with the old IRA). After the failure Border Campaign, (in the '50s), Cathal Goulding became the leader. During the sixties, the Officials moved away from the armed struggle and toward working with the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA). They are conservatively Marxists (Trotskyites) who want to organize both Protestant and Catholic working classes. After the Troubles began, they started bombing targets again in London and Belfast. After their mail bombing campain, they made a ceasefire with the British. The "Stickies" have since given up their guns and have turned to politics. Their political party is the now defunct Worker's Party. In the late 1970's they numbered about 300 members. They have not done too well in the elections lately. They are supporting the peace process.

  • Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA): The main Nationalist front, and the defenders of the Catholic Ghettos. The Provisional IRA has been outnumbered and outgunned, but it still remains to oppose the British forces. Originally they were neighborhood defense watches, which were formed to stop the Protestant pogroms on Catholic areas of Derry and Belfast. In the fall of 1969, the pro-abstention body walked out of a Aurdt Feust Army Council meeting and set up their own breakaway group and called it 'Provisional' after the Provisional Government proclaimed by Pearse on the steps of the Dublin General Post Office in 1916. Reenforced with Official IRA members disgusted with marxism, these neighborhood groups started working together and the Provisionals were formed. When the British started internment (the policy of rounding up males who lived in "Nationalist" areas), the Provos declared war and thus the present day situation. The Provos have killed about 600 "security forces." There have also been a lot of civilians, both Catholic and Protestant, killed in IRA "mistakes."

    They have an estimated strength of about 500 members. There is around another 800 prisoners behind bars. In 1977, they reorganized their military wing into "cells" to minimize their losses due to informers. A by-product of the cell-organization is that they found it takes less people to do more, and ever since the Provos have been very selective on who they allow to join them. The Provos also have an "auxiliary" corps of an estimated 5,000 people trained to defend their areas in case of attack.

    The Provos also act as the ghetto police, ruling areas the RUC refuses to enter. They absolutely forbid drugs in their areas, drug dealers get the death penalty. They also forbid theft, stealing cars (called joy riding by the bored teenages), rape, extortion, etc. They are the law, and they don't want to give the British Army a reason to enter their neighborhoods. Those who don't comply may get "kneecapped" , or shot in the ankle, (or worst, executed). The will also show up to get their "fee" from a kneecapped theif who has collected his disability dole.

    They are allied to the Sinn Fein Party, with Gerry Adams president and leader. Actually the Sinn Fein Party dates back to early 1900, and aside from being stanchly Nationalistic, campaigns on bread and butter issues for the ghettos. Being a party member is like hanging a target on you back. For a while the Loyalist were picking off Sinn Fein members at a rate of one a month, (the Loyalist parties lumped them together with the IRA, IRSP, and the moderate SDLP and called them the "Pan Nationalist Front.") The Sinn Fein recently has been getting about 20% of the vote.

  • Irish National Liberation Front (INLF, INLA): Although some sources claim it is an IRA splinter group, most reliable sources say this communist guerrilla army appeared on its own, much the same as Italy's Red Brigades and Germany's Baader-Meinhoff Gang. Apparently, it was another split from the Official IRA in late 1974 when the Provos wouldn't have them. It's political group is the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP).

    Although this group is well armed and had a good start, (as far as paramilitaries go, and the IRSP actually was doing some initial good), but they are reckless and as deadly to nationalists as they are to the British. The British, and most others, reguard the INLA as a bunch of armed amateurs. This group has been racked with corruption, (Racketteering, extortion, and drugs), to the point of embarrassment. It was easily infiltrated by the British. The IRSP melted away by such activities.

    It got so bad that another group split away during their internal fued of 1986. The break away group called itself the Irish Peoples Liberation Organization, (IPLO). The IPLO was suppost to be a reformed INLA and had a typical paramilitary begining, but soon fell into the same corruption habits of the old ILNA. Finally, the people had enough and pressured the Provos to act. And act they did, in October 1992, the Provos moved to shut down the IPLO, forcing them to surrender their arms caches.

    In 1993, the INLA reformed itself. It has returned to anti-British paramilitary actions. So far, no corruption.
    The INLA does not support the peace process. However, they also know they do not have the clout to do much about it and so they are standing on the sidelines waiting to see what developes.

    The INLA has never had more than 100 members.

  • Republic of Ireland (EIRE): Declaring itself independent in 1916, Ireland won itself some autonomy in 1922 after the Black and Tan war. From 1922 to 1948, it was a British dominion called the Irish Free State. On December 21, 1948, Ireland declared itself a republic and withdrew from the Commonwealth. The English responded by incorporating the six counties of Northern Ireland into the United Kingdom. The Republic has never recognised this claim.

    EIRE is bilingual and uses Gaelic (Irish) as well as English. The Irish Prime Minister is called the Taoiseach, (currently Albert Reynolds), the Irish senate is called the "Dail", and the Dail Speaker is the "Ceann Comhairle."

    EIRE has outlawed the IRA, INLA, the Continutity IRA, UDA, and UVF, but the latter two were legal for as long as they were still legal in the North. The Irish state police (Garda Siochan) has been very successful in routing out IRA arms caches and arresting suspected IRA members. Armed forces strength is about 15,000, but this is for the defense of the entire country of Eire, including it's United Nations contribution..

  • Religion in Northern Ireland
    There are many different religious groups in Northern Ireland, but there are three main groups. They are in order of size:
    The Roman Catholic Church, much the same church as in the United States. Aproximately 600,000 members.
    The Vatican has for the most part ignored the Catholics in Northern Ireland.
    The Free Presbytarian Church, a radical cousin of the Amercan United Presbytarian Church. When ever a Protestant church uses the prefix "Free" in their name it ususally means they are still fighting the Reformation. Aproximately 500,000 members.
    The Church of Ireland, the Irish version of the Church of England, and pledges allegiance to the Bishop of Canterbury. This was predominately an English church of the English living in Ireland, but over the years many Irish Catholics converted to this Protestant religion (which was called "taking the soup." by the Irish who remained Catholic, referring to a time when the English would feed any Irish and let them accumulate wealth if they would only convert away from Catholism). Aproximately 400,000 members.

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    More notes: Please read Brief historical Background.

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