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Crimes of Loyalty

A History of the UDA

Ian S. Wood

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Sectarian murder, torture, bloody power struggles and racketeering are what for many define their image of the Ulster Defence Association. Yet as Northern Ireland's Troubles worsened in 1971 and 1972, it emerged with a mass membership to defend Loyalist areas against the IRA and to uphold the Union with Britain. By 1974 it was able to defy the will of an elected government and it went on to formulate political strategies for working-class Loyalism.

Ian S. Wood uses his specialist knowledge as well as extensive interviews to recount these events and the ruthless war waged by the UDA on the nationalist community. He explores issues such as the UDA's descent into criminality and its relationship with the 'secret war' conducted by Britain's undercover services and he assesses what impact the organisation had on the outcome of Europe's worst political and ethnic conflict between 1945 and the break-up of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia after 1990.


1 Joining Up: The Origins of the UDA
2 Victory: The UDA and the 1974 Ulster Workers' Council Strike
3 After the Strike: Political Initiatives and Political Defeats
4 The Campaign Against the Anglo-Irish Agreement and "Common Sense"
5 The UDA at War
6 Fighting On
7 Simply the Best: The Rise of Johnny Adair and C Company
8 Ceasefire and an Uncertain Peace
9 Signing up to Peace? The UDA's Road to the Good Friday Agreement
10 War within Loyalism
11 Endgame for Johnny Adair
12 A 'Post-War' UDA and the Issue of Collusion
13 Hands Across the Sea: the UDA in Scotland
APPENDIX A: Brief Biographies
APPENDIX B: A Chronology of the Troubles
APPENDIX C: Organisations and Initials
APPENDIX D: Responsibility for Deaths

About the Author

Ian S. Wood is a distinguished Military historian, lecturer and journalist. He is the author of Gods, Guns and Ulster (Caxton 2003); Crimes of Loyalty: a History of the UDA (Edinburgh 2006); Britain, Ireland and the Second World War (Edinburgh 2010) and is a contributing author to A Military History of Scotland (Edinburgh 2012).


A blockbuster new book on the UDA.
- The Sunday World
The most substantial study yet made of the attitudes of those whose (in their own favoured phrase) 'only crime was loyalty'... this book provides a mass of original material on which other analysts will gratefully draw.
- Charles Townshend, Keele University, American Historical Review
The book makes an outstanding contribution to one of the greatest challenges currently faced by the United Kingdom: the bringing of peace to Northern Ireland…Wood is a historian who looks profoundly into motivation of all kinds, avoiding the mindless cliché of so much outside comment, knowing the force of moral judgment lies in the scarcity with which it is used.
- Owen Dudley Edwards, Honorary Fellow, Edinburgh University
Ian Wood's book Crimes of Loyalty: A History of the UDA, fully captures, from a Protestant perspective, the final deterioration of Irish politics and its slide towards full-blown ethnic hatred from 1969 onwards.
- Neil Mackay, Scottish Review of Books
I would judge this book to be the best scholarly treatment of the subject to date, a study which blends revealing research (particularly in respect of interviews conducted with key figures) and dispassionate and illuminating analysis.
- Graham Walker, School of Politics, Queen’s University of Belfast

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