Tartan Gangs and Paramilitaries is a new oral history of the loyalist backlash of the early 1970s in Northern Ireland. In the violent maelstrom of Belfast in 1971 and 1972 many young members of loyalist youth gangs known as `Tartans' converged with fledgling paramilitary groups such as the Red Hand Commando, Ulster Volunteer Force and Young Citizen Volunteers. This fresh account focuses on the manner in which the loyalist community in Belfast reacted to an increasingly vicious Provisional IRA campaign and explores the violent role that young loyalist men played in the period from 1970 - 1975. Through the use of unique one-on-one interviews former members of Tartan gangs and loyalist paramilitaries explain what motivated them to cross the Rubicon from gang activity to paramilitaries. The book utilises a wide range of sources such as newspaper articles, loyalist newssheets, coroners' inquest reports and government memorandums to provide the context for a dynamic new study of the emergence of loyalist paramilitarism.
Gareth Mulvenna has previously worked as a parliamentary researcher in the Northern Ireland Assembly and during the writing of 'Tartan Gangs and Paramilitaries' he held a Visiting Research fellowship at Queen's University Belfast School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy. Gareth was a member of History Hub Ulster for whom he carried out research on the historic Craigavon House in East Belfast. He is a committee member of Donegall Pass Social History Group and a trustee of the REACH (Renewing, Engaging and Advancing Community Hopes) Project which seeks to address socio-economic issues in loyalist working class areas of Greater Belfast and North Down.
Illustrations Acknowledgements Prologue Introduction 1. Drills, Fights and Defence 2. `Civil rights, unrest, death' (1960s) 3. Football, Flags and Fighting (1970-71) 4. Protestants at War? (1971-72) 5. Convergence (1972) 6. From Boys Brigade Belts and Bibles to Bombs and Bullets (1972-75) Conclusion Bibliography Index