Ulster Resistance

Ulster Resistance

Ulster Resistance was a paramilitary movement established by unionists in Northern Ireland on 10 November 1986 in opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. [CAIN entry on Ulster Resistance [http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/organ/uorgan.htm] ]


The group was launched at a two thousand-strong invitation only meeting at the Ulster Hall. The rally was chaired by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Lord Mayor of Belfast Sammy Wilson and addressed by party colleagues Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and Ivan Foster. Also on the platform at the rally was Alan Wright, the Chairman of the Ulster Clubs. The launch rally was followed by a number of similar assemblies across Northern Ireland.

At a rally in Enniskillen, Peter Robinson announced; "'Thousands have already joined the movement and the task of shaping them into an effective force is continuing. The Resistance has indicated that drilling and training has already started. The officers of the nine divisions have taken up their duties'. [ [http://www.irish-association.org/archives/stevebruce11_oct03.html Religion and Violence: The Case of Paisley and Ulster Evangelicals] ]

At a rally in the Ulster Hall Paisley spoke of the need for the Third Force to fight against the aims of Republicanism then Paisley was filmed dramatically placing a Red Beret on his head and standing to attention.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson was also photographed wearing the loyalist paramilitary regalia of beret and military fatigues at an Ulster Resistance rally.

A mass membership failed to materialise, but active groups were established in country areas such as County Armagh, attracting support from rural conservative Protestants.


The group collaborated with the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) to procure arms. In June 1987 the UVF stole more than £300,000 from the Northern Bank in Portadown. The money was used to buy an estimated 200 AK47 assault rifles, 90 Browning 9mm pistols, 10 RPG-7 rocket launchers and 150 warheads, 450 grenades and ammunition which arrived at Belfast docks in December 1987 and were then transported to a farm outside Portadown. The arms were Palestine Liberation Organization weapons captured by the Christian militias in the Lebanon and were split three ways between the groups.

On 8 January 1987, as they attempted to transport their weapons to Belfast, the UDA's share was intercepted by the Royal Ulster Constabulary. A UR member, Noel Little, a former Ulster Defence Regiment soldier and the Armagh chairman of the Ulster Clubs was arrested in connection with the find under the Prevention of Terrorism Act but released without charge. The Ulster Volunteer Force's (UVF) share was successfully smuggled to Belfast but several weeks later around half of the arms were also seized by police.

Part of the Ulster Resistance share of the weapons was uncovered near Markethill, County Armagh in November 1988, along with stolen missile parts and Ulster Resistance red berets. Two men were arrested in connection with the find and sentenced on 22 September 1989. Both were from South Armagh, one of them a DUP member. The party subsequently claimed that they had severed links with the group in 1987.


The South African contacts who had helped set up the 1987 arms dealFact|date=December 2007 were also interested in trading guns for something other than money: missile technology. In October 1988, a model of the Javelin missile aiming system was stolen from the Short Brothers factory in Belfast, which had a mostly loyalist workforce.

A few months later, parts of a Blowpipe missile went missing and another Blowpipe was stolen from a Territorial Army base in Newtownards in April 1989.

Arrests in Paris

Three members of the group, Noel Little, previously arrested in connection with the 1987 importation of arms, James King, a Free Presbyterian from Killyleagh, County Down and Samuel Quinn, a sergeant in the Newtownards Territorial Army were arrested at the Hilton Hotel, Paris on 21 April 1989 along with a diplomat from South Africa, Daniel Storm and an American arms dealer, Douglas Bernhart, leading to claims that they were attempting to procure arms in return for missile technology from Short Brothers. The "Paris Three" were charged with arms trafficking and associating with criminals involved in terrorist activities. They were convicted in October 1991 after more than two years on remand. They received suspended sentences and fines ranging from £2,000 to £5,000.


The "Sutton Index of Deaths" [http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/sutton/chron/1989.html] claims that two men killed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) in October 1989 were members of Ulster Resistance. Thomas Gibson, a 27 year old labourer and part time ambulance driver with the Territorial Army was shot dead in Kilrea, County Londonderry. Robert Metcalfe, the 40 year old owner of an army surplus store in Lurgan was shot dead at his home in Magheralin, County Down. The families of both men denied that they had any connection with loyalist groups.

After the Paris revelations the group largely faded. A small group continued on as Resistance and is believed to have joined the Combined Loyalist Military Command, although it has long since faded.

In a front page article, June 10, 2007, the Sunday Life reported that Ulster Resistance claimed to once again be active and armed. A statement released by the group claimed that it had "the capability and resources to strike with deadly force". A photo accompanying the article showed two masked men posing with automatic rifles beside a banner which read "Ulster Resistance C Division. [Sunday Life 10 June 2007 [http://www.sundaylife.co.uk/news/article2640640.ece#] Ulster Resistance: Renegade loyalists issue terror threat]



* Paul Arthur & Keith Jeffrey, "Northern Ireland Since 1968", Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1996
* Jonathan Bardon, "A History of Ulster", Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1992
* Steve Bruce, "The Red Hand", Oxford University Press, 1992
* Jim Cusack & Henry McDonald, "UVF", Poolbeg, 2000
* Martin Dillon, "Stone Cold", Hutchinson, 1992
* David McKittrick, "Lost Lives", Mainstream Publishing 2001
* Peter Taylor, "Loyalists", Bloomsbury, 1999

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