Ulster loyalism is a militant unionist ideology held mostly by
Protestants in Northern Ireland. Some individuals claim that Ulster loyalists are working-class unionists willing to use violence in order to achieve their aims. [ Steve Bruce, "The Red Hand: Protestant Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland", 1992] However, others, such as Garrett Fitzgerald, argue that loyalism is simply "loyalty to Ulster not to the Union with Britain and it is mis-described as unionism." [ Fergal Cochrane, "Unionist Politics and the Politics of Unionism since the Anglo-Irish Agreement", 2001]
Unionists support the continuation of Northern Ireland's status as a
constituent countryof the United Kingdomand oppose any joining with the Republic of Irelandin a united Ireland. However, whilst some loyalist groups seek to maintain Northern Ireland's position within the UK they are not defined by this aim and some, such as the Ulster Defence Association, have openly supported the idea of Ulsterindependence. Unionists also believe in achieving their aims through purely constitutional means, but are willing to use violence to defend the constitutional process. However loyalists support the use of militantmethods as the primary means to reject amalgamation with the Republic of Ireland. Consequently, anti-Unionists and anti-Loyalists frequently use the term "loyalist" to describe illegal paramilitaryorganisations.
Partition of Irelandin 1921, six of the nine counties in the province of Ulsterwere excluded the independent Irish Free State(later the Republic of Ireland). These counties, four out of the six having (at the time) Protestant majorities Fact|date=September 2008, remained a part of the United Kingdom. Two other Ulster counties also remained part of the UK, despite having narrow nationalist (pro-independence) majorities Fact|date=September 2008. Both unionist and nationalist communities have allowed or encouraged sectarianismamong Protestants (associated with unionism) and Roman Catholics (associated with nationalism) to further political aims Fact|date=September 2008.
The difference of opinion between Northern Ireland's Nationalist Catholic population (which mostly supports leaving the UK in favour of uniting with the Republic of Ireland) Fact|date=September 2008 and its Protestant Unionist population (which mainly supports remaining as part of the United Kingdom) has led to a long-running bloody conflict known as "
The Troubles". However, the majority of people who live in the region do not support paramilitaries of any ideology Fact|date=September 2008.
Progressive Unionist Party
Ulster Democratic Party
Bigger parties like the Ulster Unionist or Democratic Unionist parties have actively sought to distance themselves from loyalist paramilitary activity. However, Ian Paisley and his Democratic Unionist Party have worked alongside loyalist paramilitary groups such as the UDA in the 1974
Ulster Workers' Council Strikes and the 1977 Loyalist Association of Workersstrike  .
Apprentice Boys of Derry
Independent Orange Order
Ulster Volunteer Force
Ulster Defence Association
Loyalist Volunteer Force
Ulster Protestant Volunteers
Red Hand Commandos
Red Branch Knights
Ulster Young Militants
Young Citizen Volunteers
Combined Loyalist Military Command
Ulster Loyalist Central Co-ordinating Committee
Other loyalist organisations
Loyalist Association of Workers
Tara (Northern Ireland)
Ulster Political Research Group
Ulster Workers Council
* [http://www.ulsterloyalists.co.uk/ Loyalist, Unionist and Protestant Resources]
* [http://www.beyondconflict.net/site/default.asp Beyond Conflict] - A South-East Antrim organization linked with the
Ulster Defence Association
* [http://www.pup-ni.org.uk/home/default.aspx Progressive Unionist Party] -
Centre-Leftand Social DemocraticLoyalist party linked with the Ulster Volunteer Force.
* [http://www.englishloyalists.net English Loyalists]
* [http://www.scottishloyalists.co.uk Scottish Loyalists]
* [http://www.britishulsteralliance.co.uk/ British Ulster Alliance]
* [http://www.loyalistfm.net/new/ Loyalist FM]
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