Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF)
The loyalist Volunteer Force is a breakaway group of the Ulster Volunteer Force which refuses to accept the loyalist cease-fire. Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act [PTA], the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland may proscribe any organization that "appears...to be concerned in, or in promoting or encouraging terrorism occurring in the United Kingdom and connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland." Membership in proscribed loyalist and republican paramilitary groups is punishable by up to 10 years' imprisonment. In June 1997 the Secretary of State proscribed the Volunteer Force.
ActivitiesThe LVF is believed to be responsible for a number of bombings and sectarian killings, including the killing of Sean Brown in Bellaghy in May, and Seamus Dillon and Eddie Treanor in December 1997. Jailed loyalist terrorist leader Billy Wright was shot five times at close range by three Irish National Liberation Army gunmen at the top security Maze prison on 27 December 1997. Wright was the leader of the LVF loyalist terrorist organization. Riots followed that evening when loyalist gangs in Portadown and other towns hijacked and burned cars and attacked police with Molotov cocktails. In retaliation for Wright's killing, three men opened fire in front of the Glengannon Hotel on December 28, killing 45-year-old former IRA terrorist and convicted murderer (released in 1994) Seamus Dillon. Three others, including a 14-year-old boy, were wounded. The LVF claimed responsibility for the attack, as well as a subsequent new year's eve attack on a North Belfast bar which fatally wounded 31-year-old Catholic Eddie Treanor.
On 15 July 1997, 18-year-old Catholic Bernadette Martin was shot in the head while she was sleeping in the home of her Protestant boyfriend. Although denied by the organization, it is widely believed that the killing was committed by the LVF. The LVF was also thought to be responsible for the killing of Gerry Devlin, a 36-year-old Catholic man who was shot in North Belfast on 05 December 1997.
In October 2001, the British Government ruled that the LVF had broken the cease-fire it declared in 1998 after linking the group to the murder of a journalist.During the summer weeks of the annual "marching season" some 100,000 members of the Orange Order and similar Protestant organizations stage traditional parades to celebrate their history and cultural identity. While few of the 3,100 parades held each year are contentious, about 40 that celebrate Protestant "triumphs" in historical battles or are routed through Catholic neighborhoods give rise to tensions. The LVF threatened heavy bombing in the Republic of Ireland if the Orange Order March in Portadown was banned. On 01 June 1997, 41-year-old RUC constable Greg Taylor was kicked to death by a loyalist mob outside a bar in County Antrim. The mob was reportedly angry about the police ban on a recent loyalist parade in the Antrim village of Dunloy.
According to the State Department Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003 Report, the LVF was the chief suspect behind a bomb attack against a Catholic home in Northern Ireland in February 2003.
StrengthThe future of the LVF appears to depend on whether it can replace Billy Wright with a credible leader. Currently, LVF has 300 members, half of whom are active.
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