Abstract: Violence returned to Northern Ireland’s streets in early April 2021 as protesters from within the more militant fringe of the Protestant unionist community clashed with police officers in Belfast and other towns and cities across the troubled province. Much of the focus has been on the reaction of loyalists to the Northern Ireland Protocol in the Withdrawal Agreement between the United Kingdom and European Union. Yet, the trigger for these clashes was the announcement that members of the main nationalist party Sinn Féin who breached COVID-19 restrictions to attend a funeral would not be prosecuted. The ‘leaderless’ violence is a manifestation of deep-rooted socio-economic problems and a rejection by loyalists of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement of 1998. It also demonstrates and is reflective of the fragmentation of paramilitary loyalism. Lawmakers and intelligence and security practitioners need a more nuanced understanding of how the security environment has changed since the 1990s if they are to successfully combat the new threat in future.

It all began on Good Friday—April 2, 2021—with bricks, iron bars, and fireworks being thrown by local youths at police officers deployed on the edge of Belfast city center. It soon escalated into a concerted attack that left eight police officers injured.1 Over the next few nights, sporadic trouble returned to towns and cities across Northern Ireland as fear spread that the violence might threaten the hard-won peace.2 A journalist was beaten up, police officers were attacked, and a bus was burnt out before the violence petered out upon the announcement of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh and a period of national mourning. So far, a fresh round of protests in the wake of the Duke’s funeral has failed to gather momentum, though tensions nevertheless remain high.

The upsurge in violence in Northern Ireland in April 20213 has been blamed on the tensions surrounding the implementation of the United Kingdom’s Withdrawal Agreement from the European Union and the Northern Ireland Protocol. Focusing entirely on Brexit, however, misses the deep structural inequalities and the persistence of paramilitary structures that have remained in place since the end of the major terrorist campaigns in the 1990s. A fixation with Brexit also neglects the new dynamics that now inform the security situation, which were glimpsed when loyalists last took to protest action on the streets at the removal of the Union Flag from Belfast city hall in December 2012. The serious civil unrest that unfolded then was confined primarily to unionist working class areas. Recent violence has been more widespread, threatening to draw the nationalist community into sectarian conflict and, thereby, undermine the fragile peace process. Analysis of this volatile situation has been confounded by the tendency of lawmakers in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and elsewhere to underplay the serious challenges that remain in this deeply divided society. There is now an urgency to understand the causes and dynamics of this transformed security environment if solutions are to be found to alleviate the outstanding problems.

The recent rioting in Northern Ireland has highlighted the challenges that remain in stabilizing the security situation in Northern Ireland 23 years after the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement on April 10, 1998. It could be argued that the upsurge in violence has taken the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Britain’s domestic intelligence service, MI5, by surprise. On March 4, 2021, Chief Constable Simon Byrne told members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board that the PSNI did not “see the prospect of a return to protest or violence. We are prudently looking at an assessment of what that means in terms of a policing response or indeed any need to change our posture over the weeks ahead.”4 However, by April 1, Byrne’s report to the Policing Board acknowledged that the “wider environment in which policing operates has experienced wide-ranging political, economic, social, technical, ethical, legal and environmental changes” and that his officers were operating in “challenging circumstances which increase the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) of the environment”.5 While it is superficially attractive to talk up an ‘intelligence failure,’ it may be more appropriate to acknowledge the onset of a general cognitive bias against mounting evidence that suggests the security environment has been transformed since the end of the Troubles in the 1990s.

While the Belfast Agreement has been rightly championed as an effective, political-led conflict management process that hastened the decline of major violence, it has been a process beset by imperfections. Those imperfections, including the failure to dismantle paramilitary structures—voluntary or otherwise—have led to a yawning gap between local law enforcement agencies and loyalist working class areas that continue to live under the jackboot of illegal terrorist organizations. The absence of a ‘peace dividend’ in these deprived areas feeds a broader disaffection within the general loyalist and unionist community for the Belfast Agreement.6 What has further exacerbated the situation is the presence of ethno-national competition, rather than cooperation, a zero-sum game7 that has distinguished local politics since the return of the local power-sharing Executive in 2007 and, following three years in cold storage, again from 2020.a This disaffection has festered since June 2020 when high-ranking Sinn Féin politicians breached COVID-19 restrictions to attend the funeral of former IRA leader Bobby Storey. Loyalists finally took to the streets after the Director of Public Prosecutions announced that no charges would be made against 24 people who attended the funeral.8 Violence initially broke out in inner-city Belfast and spread out to Newtownabbey and Derry/Londonderry before taking on a copycat momentum across Northern Ireland.

Political and community leaders immediately appealed for calm in the face of unrest. However, critics of the British government accused London of not having invested the comparable time and energy of previous administrations.9 Indeed, the Chief of Staff to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Jonathan Powell, publicly called on the government to be more “activist” in responding to the crisis. He also said it was a “mistake to ignore the loyalists” and that more “pragmatism” was required in the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.10 Yet, the specter of identity politics is never far from the reality of life for many people, particularly in deprived areas.11 One journalist for the local unionist-leaning daily Belfast Newsletter observed how “Boris Johnson has failed to accept his role in destabilising Northern Ireland by dishonestly denying that there would be an Irish Sea border or the checks which have inevitably flowed from the deal he signed. Even now, he refuses to apologise for misleading the public.”12 On the ground, however, the main paramilitary groups operating under the auspices of the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) issued a firm denial that they were behind the protest. Nonetheless, they acknowledged the anger in their midst, appealing for calm and for “our people not to get drawn into violent confrontations.”13

The remainder of this article explores three key aspects of this resurgent threat to the peace process. First, it examines the history and genealogy of ideas within the more extreme fringe of Ulster loyalism. Second, it offers an assessment of how that violence has changed since loyalist paramilitaries called a halt to their armed campaign in 1994 and disarmed in 2009. Finally, it evaluates the response to loyalist violent protest and how the authorities might look to counter the broader threat to the security situation in Northern Ireland and address its root causes going forward.

Loyalists engage in violent unrest on April 2, 2021, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Around 100 people had gathered when bricks, bottles, and fireworks were thrown at police. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Militant Loyalism: A Brief History
The origins of militant loyalism stretch back hundreds of years to the formation of the Laggan Army in the 1640s, which began as a militia organized by wealthy Protestant landowners in the ancient Irish province of Ulster.14 However, in their modern forms these militias only really took on the form of a large-scale paramilitary movement in the late 19th century in a bid to avert the Irish Home Rule policy of the British government. The growth of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) into a mass army in the period 1912-1914 was interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War and the UVF’s absorption into the British Army.15 There was a brief attempt to reorganize the UVF after the war in a bid to protect the new unionist state that emerged from the Government of Ireland Act (1920).16 The need to ensure protection from attempts to undermine the legitimacy and security of the Unionist state continued to animate hardline elements of the Protestant community for much of the next half century.

In the 1960s, these more extreme unionists—known as “loyalists” for their extreme loyalty to the British Crown, if not always to Her Majesty’s Government—believed there were existential challenges to their security coming from a variety of sources. They were suspicious of the modernizing rhetoric of a new liberal unionist government at Stormont from 1963, which they perceived as weak in the face of a perceived IRA threat. They took a dim view of the attempts of the Catholic and Protestant churches to reach out and begin a form of ecumenical dialogue, and they were worried about the irredentist ambitions of the government in the Irish Republic. Although these fears were largely manufactured out of loyalist paranoia, they were seen as real enough for some right-wingers within the Unionist Party to facilitate the creation of an illegal terrorist group.17 A new militant group known as the UVF—in homage to its paramilitary predecessor—was formed by right-wing elements within the Unionist Party in County Tyrone in 1965.18 Situated close to the border with the Irish Republic, the frontier Protestants behind the UVF conspiracy ushered the gun back into Irish politics.19 The group carried out a number of sectarian attacks and murders in 1966 before its leading members were arrested.20

After the outbreak of intercommunal rioting in 1969, the UVF was joined by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), a large-scale, vigilante-based group that organized across the six counties of Northern Ireland in the early 1970s to defend their areas from the re-emergence of militant Irish republicanism. Much of the early violence emanating from loyalist groups in the 1970s was crude. Civil unrest on the streets went hand in hand with a campaign of targeted assassination of individual members of the nationalist community and their politicians, followed by sectarian bomb attacks on licensed premises that soon gave way to a wave of car bomb attacks in Dublin and Monaghan.21 At the same time, the UVF carried out deniable operations across the border, while attempting to organize politically by putting up candidates in local elections. Simultaneously, the UDA channeled their paramilitary muscle in support of the Ulster Workers’ Council strike in May 1974, which was designed to bring down the newly formed power-sharing Executive.22 It succeeded within two weeks.

Apart from presenting a clear and present military and political challenge, loyalist paramilitaries also came to represent a threat within their own communities. They exerted coercive control, carrying out a policing function that should have been performed by state law enforcement agencies.23 The violence of the early Troubles left the police ineffective in areas where loyalist groups remained strong. Loyalist paramilitaries finally called a halt to their armed campaigns in 1994 in response to the Provisional IRA’s cessation.

The UVF and UDA eventually disarmed in 2009, although they refused to disband their structures, claiming in April 2018 that they rejected “criminality.”24 In early December 2020, the BBC obtained a leaked MI5 document that estimated the strength of loyalist paramilitary groups to be in the region of 12,500 members.25 It seems that despite paying lip service to the idea of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of their members, the quarter of a century of promised transition has inadvertently emboldened these violent non-state actors and grafted them even further to the social fabric of unionist working class areas.

Peace researcher and academic Seán Brennan refers to the agency of these loyalist groupings in post-ceasefire Northern Ireland as a form of “paramilitary peacekeeping,” which he defines as a strategy consciously adopted for the purposes of “dominating, disciplining and controlling marginalised and disadvantaged loyalist communities.”26 While holding their own communities captive, some loyalist paramilitaries have used their standing in the eyes of certain local government departments and statutory agencies—and even the police—to enforce their will on their communities, including by carrying out so-called ‘punishment attacks’ and even assassinations.27 Despite their entrenched position in working class areas, loyalist paramilitary groups—most of whom now operate under the umbrella of the LCC—have claimed they are not behind the recent violent protests, a claim substantiated by the PSNI.28 However, another interpretation of events unfolding on the ground might also read into this denial a certain degree of powerlessness to stop the persistence of recent sporadic protests, raising the strong possibility that loyalist paramilitary structures are rusty and, in some cases, even fragmenting.29

A New Way of Violence: Ulster’s Answer to Leaderless Resistance
The fragmentation of loyalist paramilitary groups is not a new phenomenon. Throughout the Northern Ireland Troubles, splits were common. The IRA fractured in 1969/1970, which produced the Official and Provisional IRAs. The Officials split again in 1974 when a more radical, Marxist-inspired grouping formed the Irish National Liberation Army. The Provisionals split again in 1986 and 1997, with the splinter groups splitting and reconstituting as a New IRA in 2012.30 On the loyalist side, splits have been rare. From the 1960s and 1970s, the UVF and UDA groups dominated the paramilitary stage. The UVF splintered in 1996 when the organization expelled one of its commanders, Billy Wright, who went on to form the Loyalist Volunteer Force. The UDA split in 2002 when its South East Antrim unit broke away to form its own organization. It is believed that the breakaway group has some 2,000 members.31 Although some violent loyalist groups appeared in the late 1990s and early 2000s, they were little more than cover names for elements within the old groups who were carrying out unsanctioned activity.32 In their manifestations as terrorist groups, militant loyalists have generally remained cohesive.

Recent research has found that militant loyalists were perhaps more autonomous than has been admitted, in large part, perhaps, as a means of managing internal dissent.33 According to Bruce Hoffman, terrorism is “perhaps best viewed as the archetypal shark in the water. It must constantly move forward to survive and indeed to succeed.”34 That survival means staying one step ahead of the obvious counter-measures put in place by states, but it also requires adapting in order to survive by “adjusting and adapting their tactics, modus operandi, and sometimes even their weapons systems as needed.”35 In Northern Ireland, often regarded as a laboratory for terrorism,36 terrorists have demonstrated considerable innovation akin to their counterparts in other parts of the world. They have learned from past experience in order to improve their capability while attempting to realize their intent.37 Since the 1990s, some loyalists have sought to bypass physical barriers put in place by the security forces in order to channel discontent and disaffection in more ambitious ways. The huge civil unrest centering around the banned Orange Order parades in Portadown during the Drumcree protests of 1995 onwards38 saw some loyalist leaders somewhat amazingly draw on Gandhi’s concept of ‘unarmed resistance.’39

The idea of unarmed resistance practiced by some loyalists, however, had less to do with Gandhi’s teachings and more to do with those advanced by leading doyens of the American extreme far-right and their ideas of ‘leaderless resistance.’ This was a strategic concept that grew in terms of its currency whereby small cells operated in a loose network configuration, rather than in a formal hierarchical organization, and were encouraged to conduct attacks sporadically to evade capture by the federal authorities.40 Historically, even freelance terrorists such as Michael Stone, the loyalist who attacked the funeral of three IRA members killed by the SAS in Gibraltar, never truly acted alone.41 Loyalist lone actor terrorists are, therefore, rare, and so it is likely that some kind of network may evolve from extremism into violent protest action. This has always been a possibility, as indicated in relation to the Drumcree protests of the 1990s and the loyalist flag protests 20 years later in 2012-2013.42 In this, there is certainly an opportunity for the British security services to employ tried and tested forms of intelligence attack. As Paul Gill et al. have stated in relation to their research on lone actors, although these plots may “vary significantly in their effectiveness,” with “a common perception that lone-actor plots are virtually undetectable,” one should seek to look beyond the concept of lone actors creating their own ideology, planning and executing their own attacks with no help from others, for at some stage, everybody talks of their violent ambitions. Traditional counterterrorism methods, including signals intelligence, human intelligence, and image intelligence, can play a very valuable role in combating the threat posed by loyalist paramilitary groups.43

Responding to the New Wave of Violence
It is necessary to look at the phenomenon of terrorism and political violence in Northern Ireland through a new prism. The temptation to continue to view loyalist paramilitary structures as exclusively hierarchical organizations with a top-down leadership is questionable in light of the return of recent leaderless violence to the streets. As national security professionals in the United Kingdom sought to adjust their thinking about the challenges posed by Islamist extremism and terrorism, it is now increasingly important to do the same in relation to Northern Ireland Related Terrorism (NIRT). The unfolding violent protests witnessed on the streets of Belfast and other towns and cities in Northern Ireland suggests a more complex phenomenon is at play than described by some analysts. As this article has made clear, the drivers for the significant shifts in the security environment are many and varied. There has certainly been a degeneration of some loyalist and republican paramilitary groups into organized crime groups.44 However, perhaps more worrying, is the increased blurring of the lines between criminality and terrorism in most paramilitary groups.45 Since 2018, the PSNI, National Crime Agency, and HM Revenue and Customs have been playing a role in dismantling the new constellation of paramilitary and organized crime gangs.46

The October 2021 release of the U.K. Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee report on NIRT was a welcome sign that broader International Counter Terrorism (ICT) lessons are likely to be applied to tackling the local terror threat. In evidence submitted by MI5, one officer told the committee that the security service was participating in a review of the strategic approach to tackling NIRT, “a key part of what we are doing [needs to be] more than just countering the groups and degrading them, it is … working *** [redaction] to prevent people from joining dissident groups in the first place.”47 Although there is a lack of detail on what exactly this will entail, there is scope for the application of lessons from the Prevent strand of CONTEST,b which looks at disrupting pathways into terrorism and political violence. While such creative thinking is to be welcomed, however, there is still a need to acknowledge the deep ethnic, national, and cultural divisions that characterize Northern Ireland and make it a very different place from inner-city England. Traditionally, the two previous iterations of CONTEST have shied away from dealing with NIRT in any great detail. They have instead sought refuge in the mantra that such matters will be the devolved responsibility of the Northern Ireland Executive. Interestingly, MI5 told the ISC that it “does not view total suppression as realistic: they ‘do not proceed with an assumption that we can continue to drive [NIRT attacks] down to zero.’” It saw the complete reduction of violence as “an undeliverable goal”.48 What MI5’s submission to the ISC confirms is that intelligence officers have adopted a pragmatic stance on violence in Northern Ireland. In other words, the population may just have to live with the prospect of future outbreaks of violence.49

According to the U.K. government’s March 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, the dissident republican threat “endures and there remains a minority who aim to destabilise the peace process.” Yet, for the first time, a British security review has acknowledged how “Paramilitary and criminal activity by both dissident republican and loyalist groups adds to the wider security challenges we face in Northern Ireland.”50

In the absence of a ‘silver bullet’ solution, however, it is perhaps worth considering what kind of options might limit or neutralize violence going forward. One of the viewpoints expressed by MI5 is that it should not only be left up to those government departments with national security portfolios to deal with violence in Northern Ireland. That no one department has a monopoly over tackling the NIRT challenge is obvious. It now appears likely that a whole-of-government approach will be required to tackle the causes and manifestation of violence. How might that then proceed? It may be prudent to take a more realistic critical analysis of the conflict by examining the structural causes, including socio-economic inequality, educational underachievement, lack of skills, and long-term unemployment in deprived areas. Factoring in the causes as well as the manifestation of violence would certainly leave law enforcement and intelligence agencies better placed to work with other government departments, statutory agencies, and community-based NGOs to neutralize disaffection before it becomes the well spring from which violent extremists and terrorists can draw fuel for their gasoline bombs.

The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement was a significant achievement because it ended many years of sustained armed conflict. However, as the flare-up of loyalist street violence in April 2021 demonstrated, there is still much work to be done in tackling the resurgence of violent extremism in this troubled part of the world. One of the main ways that lawmakers can meet the challenge is by thinking more imaginatively about how the security situation has changed since the 1990s. Only by understanding both the old and the new dynamics now informing events in Northern Ireland can progress toward a more positive form of peace be made.     CTC

Dr. Aaron Edwards is a Senior Lecturer in Defence and International Affairs at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He specializes in terrorism and insurgency, ethnic conflict, and strategic studies. His new book, Agents of Influence: Britain’s Secret Intelligence War Against the IRA, has just been published. Twitter: @DrAaronEdwards

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the U.K. Ministry of Defence, or any other U.K. government agency.

© 2021 Aaron Edwards

Substantive Notes
[a] The Northern Ireland Assembly and power-sharing Executive has been in place in one form or another since they were set up in the aftermath of the 1998 Agreement. However, they have been dogged by years of infighting, much of which is attributable to a lack of trust between the Unionist and Nationalist communities. An internal Provisional IRA feud, in which two men were assassinated in 2015, triggered a crisis accentuated by revelations around political corruption. The Executive collapsed in 2017 and only returned in early 2020.

[b] The four strands of CONTEST—known as the 4 Ps of Prevent, Protect, Pursue, and Prepare—each tackle the terrorist threat from different perspectives. Prevent focuses on stopping people from becoming involved in extremism and terrorism.

[1] Orlaith Clinton, “Sandy Row rioting leads to seven arrests and eight officers injured, says PSNI Chief,” Belfast Live, April 3, 2021.

[2] Rory Carroll, “‘The fear is that this will get bigger’: six nights of rioting in Northern Ireland,” Guardian, April 8, 2021.

[3] Amanda Ferguson and William Booth, “Days of violence in Northern Ireland blamed in part on Brexit,” Washington Post, April 8, 2021.

[4] Rebecca Black, “Loyalist withdrawal of support for Good Friday Agreement a ‘political move’ – chief constable,” Irish News, March 4, 2021.

[5] Chief Constable’s Accountability Report to the Northern Ireland Policing Board Financial Year 2020 – 2021, 01 April 2021 (Belfast: PSNI, March 26, 2021).

[6] Seán Brennan, “From warrior regimes to illicit sovereigns: Ulster loyalist paramilitaries and the security implications for Brexit,” Small Wars and Insurgencies (published online March 2021), pp. 9-10.

[7] Cillian McGrattan, Northern Ireland, 1968-2008: The Politics of Entrenchment (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

[8] “PPS issues decisions on Covid funeral files,” Public Prosecution Service, March 30, 2021, accessed April 15, 2021; Rick Gladstone and Peter Robins, “The Ghosts of Northern Ireland’s Troubles Are Back. What’s Going On?” New York Times, April 12, 2021.

[9] Toby Helm, Lisa O’Carroll, and Michael Savage, “Boris Johnson refuses calls for summit on violence in Northern Ireland,” Observer, April 11, 2021.

[10] Jonathan Powell, “Peace in Northern Ireland is in danger – Johnson’s lies and inaction offer no help,” Observer, April 11, 2021.

[11] Aaron Edwards, “Drawing a Line under the Past,” Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice 20:2 (2008): pp. 209-217; Aaron Edwards, “On the Obfuscation of the Past,” Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice 27:3 (2015): pp. 354-362.

[12] Sam McBride, “Sam McBride: On the streets and in Stormont, the next few months look bleak for Northern Ireland,” Belfast Newsletter, April 10, 2021.

[13] Brian Hutton, Pat Leahy, Suzanne Lynch, and Vivienne Clarke, “Loyalist paramilitaries deny involvement in street violence and criticise Irish Government,” Irish Times, April 9, 2021.

[14] Kevin McKenny, The Laggan Army in Ireland, 1640-80: The Landed Interests, Political Ideologies and Military Campaigns of the North-West Ulster Settlers (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2005); Thomas Bartlett, Ireland: A History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. 371; Seán Brennan, Ulster’s Uncertain Menders? The challenge of reintegration and reconciliation for Ulster Loyalists in a Post-Ceasefire Society, Queen’s University Belfast PhD Thesis, 2017, pp. 21, 90, 238.

[15] Timothy Bowman, Carson’s Army: The Ulster Volunteer Force, 1910-1920 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012).

[16] David M. Miller, Queen’s Rebels: Ulster Loyalism in Historical Perspective (Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2007), p. 125.

[17] Aaron Edwards, UVF: Behind the Mask (Newbridge, Ireland: Merrion Press, 2017), p. xix.

[18] Ibid., pp. 21-22.

[19] Ibid., pp. 13-14.

[20] Steve Bruce, The Edge of Union: The Ulster Loyalist Political Vision (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), p. 4.

[21] Edwards, UVF, pp. 72-74.

[22] Gordon Gillespie, “The origins of the Ulster Workers’ Council Strike: Structure and Tactics,” Études Irlandaises 29:1 (2004): pp. 129-144.

[23] Colin Knox, “‘See No Evil, Hear No Evil’: Insidious Paramilitary Violence in Northern Ireland,” British Journal of Criminology 42:1 (2002): pp. 164-185.

[24] Vincent Kearney, “Loyalist paramilitary groups ‘to support rule of law,’” BBC, April 9, 2018; Stephen Dempster, “Loyalist paramilitary groups in NI ‘have 12,500 members,” BBC, December 2, 2020.

[25] Dempster; Suzanne Breen, “Leaked report: Strength of loyalist paramilitaries ‘an indictment of authorities,’” Belfast Telegraph, December 3, 2020.

[26] Brennan, “From warrior regimes to illicit sovereigns,” pp. 9-10.

[27] Chris Kilpatrick, “UDA’s Larne mob attack was aimed at brothers who stood up to terror gang,” Belfast Telegraph, April 1, 2014.

[28] Lisa O’Carroll, “Northern Ireland Police say paramilitaries not behind recent violence,” Guardian, April 10, 2021.

[29] Connla Young, “Worries over new loyalist gangs amid claims Loyalist Communities Council represents minority,” Irish News, April 14, 2021.

[30] John F. Morrison, The Origins and Rise of Dissident Irish Republicanism: The Role and Impact of Organizational Splits (London: Bloomsbury, 2014); John F. Morrison, “Fighting Talk: The Statements of ‘The IRA/New IRA,’” Terrorism and Political Violence 28:3 (2016): pp. 598-619; Marisa McGlinchey, Unfinished Business: The Politics of Dissident Irish Republicanism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2019).

[31] Jennifer O’Leary, “South East Antrim UDA: ‘A criminal cartel wrapped in a flag,’” BBC, March 21, 2021.

[32] Edwards, UVF, pp. 264-265.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Bruce Hoffman, “Rethinking Terrorism and Counterterrorism Since 9/11,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 25:5 (2002): pp. 303-316.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Alan O’Day, Terrorism’s Laboratory: The Case of Northern Ireland (Aldershot: Dartmouth, 1995); John Jupp and Matthew Garrod, “Legacies of the Troubles: The Links between Organized Crime and Terrorism in Northern Ireland,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism (published online 2019), pp. 1-40.

[37] Louise Kettle and Andrew Mumford, “Terrorist Learning: A New Analytical Framework,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 40:7 (2017): p. 523.

[38] Gerry Moriarty, “Violence flares across North as Drumcree confrontation spreads,” Irish Times, July 9, 1996; Fionnuala McKenna and Martin Melaugh, “Developments at Drumcree, 1995-2000,” CAIN Web Service, accessed April 20, 2021.

[39] Edwards, UVF, pp. 241-242. On Gandhi’s tactics and strategy, see Judith M. Brown, “Gandhi and Civil Resistance in India, 1917-47: Key Issues,” in Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash eds., Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-Violent Action from Gandhi to the Present (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 43-57.

[40] For more on the concept of “leaderless resistance,” see Jeffrey Kaplan, “Leaderless resistance,” Terrorism and Political Violence 9:3 (1997), pp. 80-95.

[41] Martin J. McCleery and Aaron Edwards, “Explaining the Dynamics of Home-grown Violent Extremism in the UK: The 2017 London and Manchester Attacks,” Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict 12:1 (2019): p. 5.

[42] Henry McDonald, “‘Belfast: ‘It’s not just the flag. They want to take everything British away,’” Observer, January 12, 2013.

[43] Paul Gill, John Horgan, and Paige Deckert, “Bombing Alone: Tracing the Motivations and Antecedent Behaviors of Lone-Actor Terrorists,” Journal of Forensic Science 59:2 (2014): p. 434.

[44] Jupp and Garrod, pp. 1-40; Jon Moran, “Paramilitaries, ‘ordinary decent criminals’ and the development of organised crime following the Belfast agreement,” International Journal of the Sociology of Law 32 (2004): pp. 263-278.

[45] “Assessment on Paramilitary Groups in Northern Ireland,” HMG, October 20, 2015; Jupp and Garrod, pp. 24-25; O’Leary.

[46] Allison Morris, “Dennis McFadden: The MI5 agent at the heart of the New IRA,” Irish News, September 17, 2020; Henry McDonald, “Scottish MI5 spy to be crown’s key witness in New IRA terrorism trial,” Guardian, October 12, 2020.

[47] Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), Northern Ireland-Related Terrorism Report (London: TSO, October 5, 2020), p. 3.

[48] Ibid., p. 9.

[49] Richard English, Terrorism: How to Respond (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 120.

[50] HMG, Global Britain in a Competitive Age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (London: TSO, 2021), p. 80.

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