Ulster Loyalist Central Co-ordinating Committee

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The Ulster Loyalist Central Co-ordinating Committee (ULCCC) was set up in 1974 in Belfast, Northern Ireland in the aftermath of the Ulster Workers Council Strike, to facilitate meetings and policy co-ordination between the Ulster Workers Council, loyalist paramilitary groups, and the political representatives of Ulster loyalism.

Original version[edit]

Seen as an important link between grassroots loyalism and more mainstream unionist politics, the ULCCC was chaired by Glenn Barr and met in the Belfast offices of the Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party on a weekly basis.[1] Replacing the earlier Ulster Army Council, it brought together representatives of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), Red Hand Commando, Vanguard Service Corps/Ulster Volunteer Service Corps, Down Orange Welfare (DOW), Loyalist Association of Workers and Orange Volunteers.[2] Barr was soon replaced as chairman by John McKeague and the ULCCC took on the wider aim of preparing for the establishment of a unified "Ulster army" in the event of a British withdrawal from Northern Ireland, something that had become a leading fear in unionism in the mid-1970s.[3]

Both Barr and McKeague were prominent supporters of Ulster nationalism and in McKeague's capacity of ULCCC chairman he spoke publicly in support of independence, despite the fact that such an idea had little support outside sections of the UDA.[4] Somewhat ironically it was the UDA, along with DOW, that left the ULCCC in 1976 after it emerged that McKeague and other members of the groups were unilaterally holding meetings with members of the Provisional IRA and also discussing plans for an independent Northern Ireland with leading Catholic figures.[2] With the departure of the largest loyalist paramilitary group, the ULCCC went into abeyance.

Refounded version[edit]

The ULCCC was revived in 1991 under the leadership of Ray Smallwoods (the leader of the Ulster Democratic Party who was killed by the Provisional IRA in July 1994), although it did not gain much importance due to the existence by that time of the Combined Loyalist Military Command, which brought together the leaderships of the UDA, RHC and UVF.[2]

"The Committee"[edit]

The revived ULCCC was at the centre of controversy when Sean McPhilemy alleged that its members included Ulster Bank chief Billy Abernethy, Ulster Independence Movement leader Reverend Hugh Ross, Royal Ulster Constabulary Assistant Chief Constable Trevor Forbes and other leading people in Northern Irish society who, he claimed, conspired with leading paramilitary figures such as Billy Wright and Robin Jackson to facilitate loyalist killings.[5]

The full list of alleged members as claimed by McPhilemy in his book[6] was as follows:

Name Position or job Notes
Billy Abernethy Ulster Bank executive ULCCC chairman
Hugh Ross Ulster Independence Movement leader
Trevor Forbes OBE Royal Ulster Constabulary Assistant Chief Constable
James Sands Ulster Independence Movement member McPhilemy's main source of information
John McCullagh Ulster Resistance representative
Isobel McCulloch ULCCC secretary
Graham Long Loyalist paramilitary Previously British Army
Nelson McCausland Member of Belfast City Council Subsequently Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure
David Prentice Co-owner of car business Successfully sued McPhilemy (see below)
Albert Prentice Co-owner of car business Successfully sued McPhilemy (see below)
Cecil Kilpatrick Ulster Independence Movement member
Lewis Singleton Ulster Independence Movement member and solicitor
Sammy Abraham Businessman
Will Davidson Inner Force representative
Alec Jamison Inner Force representative
Robin Jackson Ulster Volunteer Force brigadier
Billy Wright Ulster Volunteer Force brigadier
Dean McCullough Ulster Volunteer Force member
Alec Benson Loyalist Retaliation and Defence Group member Lisburn-based arm of the UVF
Ken Kerr Ulster Defence Association brigadier Source of evidence for McPhilemy
Ian Whittle Inner Force representative

The make-up of the group was largely based on evidence provided to McPhilemy by James Sands. An alternative composition of the Committee was provided by Ken Kerr although McPhilemy later determined his evidence to be fraudulent and dismissed it.[7] Of those named by McPhilemy only Sands and Kerr acknowledged the existence of this version of the ULCCC.

The Inner Force referred to in the table was a supposed secret group within the Royal Ulster Constabulary that existed, under the command of Trevor Forbes, to manage police collusion in loyalist paramilitary killings;[8] the existence of the Inner Force has also been strenuously denied by those named as having been involved. David and Albert Prentice subsequently sued McPhilemy, his publisher Roberts Rinehart and his TV production company Box Production for $100 million over his claims that they were involved in the ULCCC. McPhilemy settled out of court for $1 million and released a statement acknowledging that the Prenitces had no involvement in the activity described in the book.[9] In a separate case McPhilemy was awarded £145,000 in damages against The Sunday Times after the paper claimed that The Committee was a hoax.[10]


  • H. McDonald & J. Cusack, UDA – Inside the Heart of Loyalist Terror, Dublin, Penguin Ireland, 2004


  1. ^ Abstracts on Organisations – 'U'
  2. ^ a b c W.D. Flackes & Sydney Elliott, Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968–1993, Blackstaff Press, 1994, p. 334
  3. ^ Henry McDonald & Jim Cusack, UDA – Inside the Heart of Loyalist Terror, Penguin Ireland, 2004, p. 11
  4. ^ Flackes & Elliott, Northern Ireland, p. 223
  5. ^ Sean McPhilemy, The Committee – Political Assassination in Northern Ireland, Niwot, Colorado: Roberts Rinehart, 1998
  6. ^ McPhilemy, The Committee, pp. 387–388
  7. ^ McPhilemy, The Committee, pp. 327–331
  8. ^ McPhilemy, The Committee, pp. 3–4
  9. ^ McPhilemy settles libel suit against ‘Committee’
  10. ^ Businessmen get libel damages