We Will Reorganise

“Ulster Special Constabulary 1920-1970. The Ulster Special Constabulary (USC; commonly called the “B-Specials” of “B Men”) was a quasi-military reserve special constable police force in what would later become Northern Ireland. It was set up in October 1920, shortly before the partition of Ireland. It was an armed corps, organised partially on military lines and called out in times of emergency, such as war or insurgency. It performed this role most notably in the early 1920s during the Irish War of Independence and the 1956-1962 IRA Border Campaign.

During its existence, 95 USC members were killed in the line of duty. Most of these (72) were killed in conflict with the IRA in 1921 and 1922. Another 8 died during the Second World War, in air raids or IRA attacks. Of the remainder, most died in accidents but two former officers were killed during the Troubles in the 1980s. [The WP page from which this text is drawn at this point goes on to talk about Catholic mistrust of the Specials.] The Special Constabulary was disbanded in May 1970, after the Hunt Report, which advised re-shaping Northern Ireland’s security forces [to attract more Catholic recruits] and demilitarizing the police. Its functions and membership were largely taken over by the Ulster Defence Regiment and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

[Accompanying the small photograph:] At the Twelfth demonstration at Finaghy, Sir Edward Carson, the unionist leader, deploring the state of the county, advised the government: ‘If … you are yourself unable to protect us from the machinations of Sinn Fein … we will take the matter into our own hands. We will reorganise [the Ulster Volunteers]’.” [From a NewsLetter article ‘USC Helped Establish Peace In Early Years Of NI’]

Carson’s quote is also used in a Belfast UVF mural. As is noted there, the speech is probably from the 12th of July – Treason Felony | RTÉ – and concerns the reformation of the Ulster Volunteers as a force to protect Protestant interests in the north of Ireland in light of the proposal in the (fourth) Home Rule bill to create separate northern and southern states.

Parkhall Road, Antrim

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Copyright © 2023 Paddy Duffy
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