Ulster loyalism is a political ideology found among Ulster Protestants in Northern Ireland who maintain a strong desire to remain part of the United Kingdom. Many Ulster Protestants are descendants of settlers from Great Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries. Like most unionists, loyalists are attached to the British monarchy, support the continued existence of Northern Ireland, oppose a united Ireland. Ulster loyalism has been described as a kind of ethnic nationalism and "a variation of British nationalism", it is associated with paramilitarism. Ulster loyalism emerged in the late 19th century, as a response to the Irish Home Rule movement, the rise of Catholic Irish nationalism. Although most of Ireland was Catholic, in the province of Ulster, Protestants were the majority. Ulster was more industrialized than other parts of Ireland and was dependent on trade with Great Britain. Loyalism began as a self-determination movement among Ulster Protestants who did not want to become part of an autonomous Ireland.
While some Irish Catholics were unionist, loyalism emphasized a Protestant and British heritage. These movements led to the partition of Ireland in 1921. Loyalists use'Ulster' as an alternative name for Northern Ireland. Since partition, most loyalists have supported upholding Northern Ireland's status as a part of the United Kingdom, i.e. unionism. The terms'unionist' and'loyalist' were used interchangeably; the term'loyalist' is now used to describe working class unionists who are willing to use, or tacitly support, paramilitary violence to defend the Union with Britain. Loyalists are described as being loyal to the Protestant British monarchy rather than to the British government and institutions. Garret FitzGerald argued that loyalists are loyal to'Ulster' rather than to'the Union'. A small minority of loyalists have called for an independent Ulster Protestant state, believing that they cannot rely on the British government to prevent Irish reunification. In Northern Ireland there is a long tradition of militaristic loyalist Protestant marching bands.
There are hundreds of such bands. The yearly Eleventh Night bonfires and The Twelfth parades are associated with loyalism; the term loyalist was first used in Irish politics in the 1790s to refer to Protestants who opposed Catholic Emancipation and Irish independence from Great Britain. Upon the partition of Ireland in 1921, six of the nine counties in the province of Ulster did not join the newly independent Irish Free State and remained a part of the United Kingdom. Academically cited records from 1926 indicate that at that stage 33.5% of the Northern Ireland population was Roman Catholic, with 62.2% belonging to the three major Protestant denominations. Tensions between Northern Ireland's Catholic population and its Protestant population led to a long-running bloody conflict known as the Troubles from the late 1960s to the late 1990s. Active parties Progressive Unionist Party, linked to the Ulster Volunteer Force and Red Hand Commando Traditional Unionist Voice and factions of the Democratic Unionist Party Former partiesProtestant Coalition Ulster Democratic Party Ulster Vanguard Volunteer Political Party Ulster Protestant League In Great Britain, a number of small far-right parties have and still do express support for loyalist paramilitaries, loyalism in general.
This includes the British People's Party and Britain First. Bigger and more moderate right-wing unionist parties like the Ulster Unionists or Democratic Unionists seek to distance themselves from loyalist paramilitary activity. However, Ian Paisley and his Democratic Unionist Party have been involved with Ulster Resistance and worked alongside loyalist paramilitaries such as the Ulster Defence Association in the 1974 Ulster Workers' Council Strikes and the 1977 Loyalist Association of Workers strike. Loyalist paramilitary and vigilante groups have been active since the early 20th century. In 1912, the Ulster Volunteers were formed to stop the British Government granting self-rule to Ireland, or to exclude Ulster from it; this led to the Home Rule Crisis, defused by the onset of World War I. Loyalist paramilitaries were again active in Ulster during the Irish War of Independence, more prominently during the Troubles; the biggest and most active paramilitary groups existed during the Troubles, were the Ulster Volunteer Force, the Ulster Defence Association /Ulster Freedom Fighters.
They, most other loyalist paramilitaries, are classified as terrorist organizations. During the Troubles, their stated goals were to combat Irish republicanism – the Irish Republican Army – and to defend Protestant loyalist areas. However, the vast majority of their victims were Irish Catholic civilians, who were killed at random in sectarian attacks. Whenever they claimed responsibility for attacks, loyalists claimed that those targeted were IRA members or were helping the IRA. M. L. R. S
Democratic socialism is a political philosophy that advocates political democracy alongside social ownership of the means of production, with an emphasis on self-management and democratic management of economic institutions within a market or some form of decentralized planned socialist economy. Democratic socialists espouse that capitalism is inherently incompatible with what they hold to be the democratic values of liberty and solidarity. Democratic socialism can be supportive of either revolutionary or reformist politics as a means to establish socialism; the term democratic socialism is sometimes used synonymously with socialism, but the adjective democratic is sometimes used to distinguish democratic socialists from Marxist–Leninist-inspired socialism which to some is viewed as being non-democratic in practice. Democratic socialists oppose the Stalinist political system and Soviet economic model, rejecting the perceived authoritarian form of governance and centralized command economy that took form in the Soviet Union and other socialist states in the early 20th century.
Democratic socialism is further distinguished from social democracy on the basis that democratic socialists are committed to systemic transformation of the economy from capitalism to socialism whereas social democracy is supportive of reforms to capitalism. In contrast to social democrats, democratic socialists believe that reforms aimed at addressing social inequalities and state interventions aimed at suppressing the economic contradictions of capitalism will only see them emerge elsewhere in a different guise; as socialists, democratic socialists believe that the systemic issues of capitalism can only be solved by replacing the capitalist system with a socialist system—i.e. By replacing private ownership with social ownership of the means of production; the origins of democratic socialism can be traced to 19th-century utopian socialist thinkers and the British Chartist movement which differed in detail, but all shared the essence of democratic decision making and public ownership in the means of production as positive characteristics of the society they advocated.
In the early 20th century, the gradualist reformism promoted by the British Fabian Society and Eduard Bernstein in Germany influenced the development of democratic socialism. Democratic socialism is defined as having a socialist economy in which the means of production are and collectively owned or controlled alongside a politically democratic system of government. Peter Hain classifies democratic socialism along with libertarian socialism as a form of anti-authoritarian socialism from below in contrast to Stalinism, a variant of state socialism. For Hain, this democratic/authoritarian divide is more important than the revolutionary/reformist divide. In this type of democratic socialism, it is the active participation of the population as a whole and workers in particular in the management of economy that characterizes democratic socialism while nationalization and economic planning are characteristic of state socialism. A similar, but more complex argument is made by Nicos Poulantzas. Draper himself uses the term "revolutionary-democratic socialism" as a type of socialism from below in his The Two Souls of Socialism and writes: "he leading spokesman in the Second International of a revolutionary-democratic Socialism-from-Below Rosa Luxemburg, who so emphatically put her faith and hope in the spontaneous struggle of a free working class that the myth-makers invented for her a'theory of spontaneity'".
He writes about Eugene Debs: "'Debsian socialism' evoked a tremendous response from the heart of the people, but Debs had no successor as a tribune of revolutionary-democratic socialism". Tendencies of democratic socialism follow a gradual, reformist or evolutionary path to socialism rather than a revolutionary one; this tendency is invoked in an attempt to distinguish democratic socialism from Marxist–Leninist socialism as in Donald Busky's Democratic Socialism: A Global Survey, Jim Tomlinson's Democratic Socialism and Economic Policy: The Attlee Years, 1945–1951, Norman Thomas Democratic Socialism: A New Appraisal or Roy Hattersley's Choose Freedom: The Future of Democratic Socialism. A variant of this set of definitions is Joseph Schumpeter's argument set out in Capitalism and Democracy that liberal democracies were evolving from "liberal capitalism" into "democratic socialism", with the growth of workers' self-management, industrial democracy and regulatory institutions. For example, the new version of Clause IV of the constitution of the British Labour Party, though affirming a commitment to democratic socialism, no longer commits the party to public ownership of industry as in its place advocates "the enterprise of the market and the rigour of competition" along with "high quality public services either owned by the public or accountable to them".
Scholar Lyman Tower Sargent proposes: Democratic socialism can be characterized as follows: Much property held by the public through a democratically elected government, including most major industries and transportation systems A limit on the accumulation of private property Governmental regulation of the economy Extensive publicly financed assistance and pension programs Social costs and the provision of services added to purely financial considerations as the measure of efficiencyPublicly held property is limited to productive property and significant infrastructure. And in practice in many democratic socialist countries, it has not extende
Belfast is a city in the United Kingdom, the capital city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast of Ireland. It is second-largest on the island of Ireland, it had a population of 333,871 as of 2015. By the early 19th century, Belfast became a major port, it played a key role in the Industrial Revolution, becoming the biggest linen-producer in the world, earning it the nickname "Linenopolis". By the time it was granted city status in 1888, it was a major centre of Irish linen production, tobacco-processing and rope-making. Shipbuilding was a key industry. Belfast as of 2019 has a major aerospace and missiles industry. Industrialisation and the inward migration it brought made Belfast Ireland's biggest city and it became the capital of Northern Ireland following the Partition of Ireland in 1922, its status as a global industrial centre ended in the decades after the Second World War of 1939–1945. Belfast suffered in the Troubles: in the 1970s and 1980s it was one of the world's most dangerous cities.
However, a survey conducted by a finance company and published in 2016 rated the city as one of the safest within the United Kingdom. Throughout the 21st century, the city has seen a sustained period of calm, free from the intense political violence of former years, has benefitted from substantial economic and commercial growth. Belfast remains a centre for industry, as well as for the arts, higher education and law, is the economic engine of Northern Ireland. Belfast is still a major port, with commercial and industrial docks, including the Harland and Wolff shipyard, dominating the Belfast Lough shoreline, it is served by two airports: George Best Belfast City Airport and Belfast International Airport 15 miles west of the city. The Globalization and World Cities Research Network listed Belfast as a Gamma global city in 2018; the name Belfast is derived from the Irish Béal Feirsde, spelt Béal Feirste. The word béal means "mouth" or "rivermouth" while feirsde/feirste is the genitive singular of fearsaid and refers to a sandbar or tidal ford across a river's mouth.
The name would thus translate as " mouth of the sandbar" or " mouth of the ford". This sandbar was formed at the confluence of two rivers at what is now Donegall Quay: the Lagan, which flows into Belfast Lough, its tributary the Farset; this area was the hub. The Irish name Béal Feirste is shared by a townland in County Mayo, whose name has been anglicised as Belfarsad. An alternative interpretation of the name is "mouth of of the sandbar", an allusion to the River Farset, which flows into the Lagan where the sandbar was located; this interpretation was favoured by John O'Donovan. It seems clear, that the river itself was named after the tidal crossing. In Ulster-Scots, the name of the city has been variously translated as Bilfawst, Bilfaust or Baelfawst, although "Belfast" is used. Although the county borough of Belfast was created when it was granted city status by Queen Victoria in 1888, the city continues to be viewed as straddling County Antrim and County Down; the site of Belfast has been occupied since the Bronze Age.
The Giant's Ring, a 5,000-year-old henge, is located near the city, the remains of Iron Age hill forts can still be seen in the surrounding hills. Belfast remained a small settlement of little importance during the Middle Ages. John de Courcy built a castle on what is now Castle Street in the city centre in the 12th century, but this was on a lesser scale and not as strategically important as Carrickfergus Castle to the north, built by de Courcy in 1177; the O'Neill clan had a presence in the area. In the 14th century, Cloinne Aodha Buidhe, descendants of Aodh Buidhe O'Neill, built Grey Castle at Castlereagh, now in the east of the city. Conn O'Neill of the Clannaboy O'Neills owned vast lands in the area and was the last inhabitant of Grey Castle, one remaining link being the Conn's Water river flowing through east Belfast. Belfast became a substantial settlement in the 17th century after being established as a town by Sir Arthur Chichester, it was settled by Protestant English and Scottish migrants at the time of the Plantation of Ulster.
In 1791, the Society of United Irishmen was founded in Belfast, after Henry Joy McCracken and other prominent Presbyterians from the city invited Theobald Wolfe Tone and Thomas Russell to a meeting, after having read Tone's "Argument on Behalf of the Catholics of Ireland". Evidence of this period of Belfast's growth can still be seen in the oldest areas of the city, known as the Entries. Belfast blossomed as a commercial and industrial centre in the 18th and 19th centuries and became Ireland's pre-eminent industrial city. Industries thrived, including linen, rope-making, heavy engineering and shipbuilding, at the end of the 19th century, Belfast overtook Dublin as the largest city in Ireland; the Harland and Wolff shipyards became one of the largest shipbuilders in the world, employing up to 35,000 workers. In 1886 the city suffered intense riots over the issue of home rule. In 1920–22, Belfast became the capital of the new entity of Northern Ireland as the island of Ireland was partitioned.
The accompanying conflict cost up to 500 lives in Belfast, the bloodiest sectarian strife in the city until the Troubles of the late 1960s onwards. Belfas
Loyalist Volunteer Force
The Loyalist Volunteer Force is a small Ulster loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland. It was formed by Billy Wright in 1996 when he and his unit split from the Ulster Volunteer Force after breaking its ceasefire, they had belonged to the UVF's Mid-Ulster Brigade and Wright had been the brigade's commander. In a two-year period from August 1996, the LVF waged a paramilitary campaign with the stated goal of combatting Irish republicanism. During this time it killed at least 14 people in bomb attacks. All of its victims were Catholic civilians who were killed at random; the LVF called off its campaign in August 1998 and decommissioned some of its weapons, but in the early 2000s a loyalist feud led to a number of killings. Since the LVF has been inactive, but its members are believed to have been involved in rioting and organized crime. In 2015, the security forces stated that the LVF "exists only as a criminal group" in Mid-Ulster and Antrim; the LVF is a Proscribed Organisation in the United Kingdom under the Terrorism Act 2000 and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the governments of the Republic of Ireland and the United States.
The Motto used by the LVF is "Lead the way". In a document, the LVF outlined its goals as follows: The use of the Ulster conflict as a crucible for far-reaching and decisive change in the United Kingdom constitution. To restore Ulster's right to self-determination. To end Irish nationalist aggression against Ulster in whatever form. To end all forms of Irish interference in Ulster's internal affairs. To thwart the creation and/or implementation of any All-Ireland/All-Island political super-structure regardless of the powers vested in such institutions. To defeat the campaign of de-Britishisation and Gaelicaisation of Ulster's daily life. There was a Christian fundamentalist element within the LVF, its leader, Billy Wright, was a born again former preacher. Professor Peter Shirlow, of Queen's University Belfast, noted that many LVF members saw Irish nationalism/republicanism and Catholicism as interlinked, they believed that Ulster Protestants were a persecuted people and Ulster was their "God-given land" which must be defended from these "dark and satanic forces".
The LVF published. Billy Wright was the leader of the Mid-Ulster Brigade of the Ulster Volunteer Force, having taken over the command from Robin "the Jackal" Jackson in the early 1990s upon the latter's retirement. In October 1994, the UVF and other loyalist paramilitary groups called a ceasefire. Internal differences between Wright and the UVF's Brigade Staff in Belfast came to a head in July 1996, during the Drumcree parade dispute; the Orange Order was being stopped from marching through the Irish Catholic and nationalist Garvaghy area of Portadown. There was a standoff at Drumcree Church between thousands of Orangemen and their supporters on one side, the security forces on the other. Wright was angered that the parade was being blocked, was to be seen at Drumcree with Harold Gracey, head of the Portadown Orange Lodge. In response to the standoff, Wright's brigade planned to take action, it smuggled homemade weaponry to Drumcree unhindered by the Orangemen. On 7 July, a day into the standoff, volunteers in Wright's brigade shot dead Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick near Aghagallon.
The man who killed McGoldrick said that he had planned, along with Billy Wright and Mark Fulton, to kidnap three priests from a parochial house in County Armagh and shoot them unless the march was allowed to continue. The brigade planned to drive petrol tankers into the nationalist housing estates and ignite them. For breaking the ceasefire and the Portadown unit of the Mid Ulster Brigade were stood down by the UVF leadership on 2 August 1996. Wright took most of the Portadown unit with him and set up the LVF, he decided on its codename of "Covenant", used to claim LVF attacks. Although behind many activities in the Mid-Ulster area –centred on the Lurgan/Portadown area– including many attacks on civilians, Wright was charged with menacing behaviour and sentenced to eight years at the Maze prison. There he demanded a separate wing for the LVF prisoners; the authorities agreed and the wing became a gathering point for loyalist paramilitaries opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process, including many from Belfast and north Down.
On the morning of 27 December 1997, Wright was assassinated by the Irish National Liberation Army inside the Maze Prison. The operation was undertaken by three INLA volunteers – Christopher "Crip" McWilliams, John Glennon and John Kennaway – armed with two pistols; the three were imprisoned in the same block as Wright. He was shot. After killing Wright, the three volunteers handed themselves over to prison guards, they handed over a statement: Billy Wright was executed for one reason, one reason only, and, for directing and waging his campaign of terror against the nationalist people from his prison cell in Long Kesh. That night, LVF gunmen opened fire near Dungannon; the hotel was owned by Catholics and about 400 teenagers were attending a disco there. Three civilians were wounded and one, a former Provisional IRA volunteer, was killed. Police believed. Witnesses said it was "an attempt at mass-murder"; some believed. The INLA denied these rumours, published a detailed account of the assassination in the March/April 1999 issue of T
Good Friday Agreement
The Good Friday Agreement or Belfast Agreement was a major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s. Northern Ireland's present devolved system of government is based on the agreement; the agreement created a number of institutions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. The agreement is made up of two inter-related documents, both agreed in Belfast on Good Friday, 10 April 1998: a multi-party agreement by most of Northern Ireland's political parties; the agreement set out a complex series of provisions relating to a number of areas including: The status and system of government of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. The relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. Issues relating to sovereignty and cultural rights, decommissioning of weapons, demilitarisation and policing were central to the agreement.
The agreement was approved by voters across the island of Ireland in two referendums held on 22 May 1998. In Northern Ireland, voters were asked in the 1998 Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement referendum whether they supported the multi-party agreement. In the Republic of Ireland, voters were asked whether they would allow the state to sign the agreement and allow necessary constitutional changes to facilitate it; the people of both jurisdictions needed to approve the agreement. The British–Irish Agreement came into force on 2 December 1999; the Democratic Unionist Party was the only major political group in Northern Ireland to oppose the Good Friday Agreement. The agreement was made between the British and Irish governments and eight political parties or groupings from Northern Ireland: the Ulster Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Sinn Féin, the Alliance Party, the Progressive Unionist Party, the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition, the Ulster Democratic Party and Labour.
The agreement comprises two elements: the legal agreement between the two governments, signed by the leaders of the two governments. The former text has just four articles. Technically, this scheduled agreement can be distinguished as the Multi-Party Agreement, as opposed to the Belfast Agreement itself; the vague wording of some of the provisions, described as "constructive ambiguity", helped ensure acceptance of the agreement and served to postpone debate on some of the more contentious issues. Most notably these included paramilitary decommissioning, police reform and the normalisation of Northern Ireland; the agreement acknowledged: that the majority of the people of Northern Ireland wished to remain a part of the United Kingdom. Both of these views were acknowledged as being legitimate. For the first time, the Irish government accepted in a binding international agreement that Northern Ireland was part of the United Kingdom; the Irish Constitution was amended to implicitly recognise Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom's sovereign territory, conditional upon the consent for a united Ireland from majorities of the people in both jurisdictions on the island.
On the other hand, the language of the agreement reflects a switch in the United Kingdom's statutory emphasis from one for the union to one for a united Ireland. The agreement thus left the issue of future sovereignty over Northern Ireland open-ended; the agreement reached was that Northern Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, would remain so until a majority of the people both of Northern Ireland and of the Republic of Ireland wished otherwise. Should that happen the British and Irish governments are under "a binding obligation" to implement that choice. Irrespective of Northern Ireland's constitutional status within the United Kingdom, or part of a united Ireland, the right of "the people of Northern Ireland" to "identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both" was recognised. By the words "people of Northern Ireland" the Agreement meant "all persons born in Northern Ireland and having, at the time of their birth, at least one parent, a British citizen, an Irish citizen or is otherwise entitled to reside in Northern Ireland without any restriction on their period of residence."The two governments agreed, irrespective of the position of Northern Ireland: the power of the sovereign government with jurisdiction there shall be exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions and shall be founded on the principles of full respect for, equality of, political, economic and cultural rights, of freedom from discrimination for all citizens, of parity of esteem and of just and equal treatment for the identity and aspirations of both communities.
As part of the agreement, the British parliament repealed the Government of Ireland Act 1920 and the people of the Republic of Ireland amended Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution o
A political spectrum is a system of classifying different political positions upon one or more geometric axes that represent independent political dimensions. Most long-standing spectra include a left wing, which referred to seating arrangements in the French parliament after the Revolution. On a left–right spectrum and socialism are regarded internationally as being on the left, Liberalism can mean different things in different contexts: sometimes on the left; those with an intermediate outlook are sometimes classified as centrists. That said and neoliberals are called centrists too. Politics that rejects the conventional left–right spectrum is known as syncretic politics, though the label tends to mischaracterize positions that have a logical location on a two-axis spectrum because they seem randomly brought together on a one-axis left-right spectrum. Political scientists have noted that a single left–right axis is insufficient for describing the existing variation in political beliefs and include other axes.
Though the descriptive words at polar opposites may vary in popular biaxial spectra the axes are split between socio-cultural issues and economic issues, each scaling from some form of individualism to some form of communitarianism. The terms right and left refer to political affiliations originating early in the French Revolutionary era of 1789–1799 and referred to the seating arrangements in the various legislative bodies of France; as seen from the Speaker's seat at the front of the Assembly, the aristocracy sat on the right and the commoners sat on the left, hence the terms right-wing politics and left-wing politics. The defining point on the ideological spectrum was the Ancien Régime. "The Right" thus implied support for aristocratic or royal interests and the church, while "The Left" implied support for republicanism and civil liberties. Because the political franchise at the start of the revolution was narrow, the original "Left" represented the interests of the bourgeoisie, the rising capitalist class.
Support for laissez-faire commerce and free markets were expressed by politicians sitting on the left because these represented policies favorable to capitalists rather than to the aristocracy, but outside parliamentary politics these views are characterized as being on the Right. The reason for this apparent contradiction lies in the fact that those "to the left" of the parliamentary left, outside official parliamentary structures represent much of the working class, poor peasantry and the unemployed, their political interests in the French Revolution lay with opposition to the aristocracy and so they found themselves allied with the early capitalists. However, this did not mean that their economic interests lay with the laissez-faire policies of those representing them politically; as capitalist economies developed, the aristocracy became less relevant and were replaced by capitalist representatives. The size of the working class increased as capitalism expanded and began to find expression through trade unionist, socialist and communist politics rather than being confined to the capitalist policies expressed by the original "left".
This evolution has pulled parliamentary politicians away from laissez-faire economic policies, although this has happened to different degrees in different countries those with a history of issues with more authoritarian-left countries, such as the Soviet Union or China under Mao Zedong. Thus the word "Left" in American political parlance may refer to "liberalism" and be identified with the Democratic Party, whereas in a country such as France these positions would be regarded as more right-wing, or centrist overall, "left" is more to refer to "socialist" or "social-democratic" positions rather than "liberal" ones. For a century, social scientists have considered the problem of how best to describe political variation. In 1950, Leonard W. Ferguson analyzed political values using ten scales measuring attitudes toward: birth control, capital punishment, communism, law, theism, treatment of criminals and war. Submitting the results to factor analysis, he was able to identify three factors, which he named religionism and nationalism.
He defined religionism as belief in God and negative attitudes toward birth control. This system was derived empirically, as rather than devising a political model on purely theoretical grounds and testing it, Ferguson's research was exploratory; as a result of this method, care must be taken in the interpretation of Ferguson's three factors, as factor analysis will output an abstract factor whether an objectively real factor exists or not. Although replication of the nationalism factor was inconsistent, the finding of religionism and humanitarianism had a number of replications by Ferguson and others. Shortly afterward, Hans Eysenck began researching political attitudes in Great Britain, he believed that there was something similar about the National Socialists on the one hand and the communists on the other, despite their opposite positions on the left–right axis. As Hans Eysenck described in his 1956 book Sense and
Hugh Smyth, OBE was a Northern Irish politician, leader of the Progressive Unionist Party. He was a former Lord Mayor of Belfast as well as the longest serving member of Belfast City Council, having represented the Upper Shankill Road area since 1973. Smyth was awarded the Order of the British Empire in the 1996 New Year's Honours list. Born in the Woodvale Road district of the Shankill Road area of Belfast, Smyth was one of nine children and was educated locally and worked as a metal bonder in the Short Brothers factory before entering full-time politics. Smyth first came to attention in the early 1970s when he served as a public spokesman for the Ulster Volunteer Force although he was not an active member of the organisation, his inspiration for politics was the struggle his father endured whilst working to support his family. Opposed to what he described as'Big House Unionism', he stated that at that time Belfast City Council was composed of upper class unionists who sought to obstruct working class council members by holding council meetings during the daytime, when working class councillors were required to be at work.
He was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1973 under the label of Independent Unionist, a well-established term used in Northern Irish politics for unionists outside the major unionist parties. While serving in the Assembly, Smyth was claimed by the UVF as a member of the Ulster Loyalist Front, a political arm that the group had established in October 1973. Although it revealed some policies, including increased use of referenda, worker cooperative initiatives, improvements in social care, alterations to the educational and social housing systems, the group disappeared immediately and Smyth retained his independent designation, he joined its successor group, the Volunteer Political Party, when it was formed, but this group made no impact and dissolved soon afterwards. Smyth was elected to the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention in 1975, once again as an Independent Unionist. Smyth remained close to the UVF. On 2 October 1975, he accompanied a UVF delegation to a meeting with leading figures from the Northern Ireland Office.
Smyth and some like-minded followers came together in 1978 under the name Independent Unionist Group, a more formalised alliance of working-class independent unionists based in Belfast of which Smyth was leader. The group was close to the UVF; this group would change its name to the Progressive Unionist Party the following year as a response to the growing Ulster nationalism within the Ulster Defence Association, with Smyth and his fellow founders fearing that their description as "independent Unionists" might lead to them being associated with independence to which they were opposed. Smyth was close to leading UVF member Gusty Spence, who had become a supporter of political methods, the two worked to recruit David Ervine to the PUP after being impressed by his ability as a speaker. Hoping to gain some understanding of his republican opponents, Smyth was one of only two unionist politicians to accept an offer to visit Provisional Irish Republican Army inmates in Long Kesh in the early 1980s.
As leader of the PUP, Smyth ran as a candidate for West Belfast in the elections to the 1982 Assembly although he failed to take the seat and the PUP as a whole did not gain any representation. Although Smyth managed to build up a strong personal following on the Shankill Road, this did not transfer to the rest of the PUP which enjoyed little success elsewhere, barring a single member's election to Carrickfergus Borough Council in 1985 and 1989, until after the 1994 ceasefire. Smyth was first elected to the council in 1972 as representative for the Shankill ward, he won a by-election resulting from the resignation of John McQuade, beat James Brown of the Ulster Unionist Party and David Robb of the Ulster Constitution Party in a three-way contest. In the election, he received the support of the Democratic Unionists. Following a change in council structure, he was re-elected the following year for "Area E" which included the Glencairn, Ballysillan, Highfield and Ardoyne areas, he subsequently represented the Court electoral area which covered Glencairn, Highfield and the mid and lower Shankill areas.
Smyth was appointed as Alderman in 1978, receiving the same honour in 1985, 1989 and 1993. In 1983 he was chosen as deputy mayor and served in this capacity again in 1993 before being appointed as Lord Mayor in June 1994, he again served as deputy mayor in 2001. As a councillor Smyth had been willing to oppose the main unionist parties on some issues, as he demonstrated in 1991 when he helped to overturn a ban on government ministers visiting Belfast City Hall, an initiative passed by unionist councillors in 1985 as a reaction to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Following the 1994 ceasefire by the Combined Loyalist Military Command, of which the UVF was a member, Smyth became an important figure in the negotiations that followed, accompanying Ervine and Ulster Democratic Party representatives Gary McMichael and John White to 10 Downing Street in June 1996 for a meeting designed to prevent the collapse of the ceasefire. Indeed, Spence has claimed that Smyth held a number of individual meetings with John Major in the aftermath of the ceasefire.
The same year Smyth was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum, along with Ervine, as "top-up" members on account of the PUP finishing in seventh place overall. Following his election Smyth clashed with UK Unionist Party leader Robert McCartney who, like Smyth, was born in Belfast's Shankill Road. McCartney suggested that the two were thus similar but for one thing – McCartney had got out, a rebuke to Smyth and the run-down and deprived state of the Shankil