State Papers

Ban on 'junior wing of UDA' considered by NIO

A UYM mural in east Belfast

THE question of banning an obscure loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Young Militants (UYM) was discussed by NIO officials.

The shadowy organisation's existence was highlighted by the NIO-funded pressure group, Families Against Intimidation and Terror (FAIT) whose chairperson, Nancy Gracey, wrote to the NI Secretary, Sir Patrick Mayhew in May 1993 demanding its proscription as "the junior wing of the UDA".

In a memo in the file for the secretary of state and Michael Mates, the NIO law and order minister, David Brooker, a senior NIO official, stated that "from information submitted recently to ministers, there is a prima facie case for considering proscription of the UYM.

"There is reliable, if fairly scant, evidence that it is involved in the recruitment and training of teenagers who may go on to join the UDA. Some members also appear to get involved in street violence, vigilantism and, possibly, punishment shootings."

The RUC had advised that the group emerged in 1986 on the Shankill Road and had a strength of some 100-150 young men: "They come under the control of the UDA."

Patrick Mayhew and Michael Mates had announced the proscription of the UDA in 1992

On the face of it, Brooker informed ministers, the organisation met the statutory criteria for proscription, enabling Sir Patrick "to proscribe any organisation concerned in terrorism".

The RUC, he said, had been asked for a formal assessment of the organisation’s aims and activities.

However, in a further memo on the files, addressed to Stephen Leach of the NIO and dated June 15, 1993, Brooker felt careful thought should to the timing of any proscription of the Ulster Young Militants. While such a ban would be "a useful, if somewhat modest addition to the list of measures the government is taking to defeat terrorism", it was important to remember that "the unionists will be looking for action against PIRA".

He added that proscription of the UYM "would, in itself, look like an inappropriate response to the broad span of terrorist activities". In the event, the loyalist paramilitary group remained legal.

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