From the early years of the troubles mainly in the Greater Belfast area more specifically Woodvale, Shankill and East Belfast Protestants were more and more under the threat of violent Irish republicans and their terror gangs, and found it necessary to start local defence associations it was not until early 1971 that these associations were amalgamated into what was to become the Ulster Defence Association.
UDA's first leader was Charles Smith. Members of the UDA have, since 1973, used the cover name of Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) to claim the responsibility for the killing of Catholics. Despite the well-known link between the two groups the UDA was only proscribed (declared illegal) on 10 August 1992. The UDA attracted many thousands of members (at its peak the estimated membership was 50,000) and very quickly became a formidable force particularly in Belfast. The UDA had a policy of excluding Members of Parliament (MPs) and clergymen from its membership and sought to retain its working-class credentials. During the protests against the imposition of direct rule from Westminster the UDA campaigned with Ulster Vanguard and the Loyalist Association of Workers (LAW). The UDA arranged massive displays of strength on the streets of Belfast during the summer of 1972, when thousands of 'uniformed' members marched through the city centre. One of the biggest 'stand-offs' between the UDA and the British Army at this time took place on 3 July 1972 in Belfast, when 8,000 UDA members confronted 250 troops. However, it was during the May 1974 Ulster Workers' Council strike that the UDA carried out its biggest operation.
In January 1987 the UDA published the document "common sense" plans for a future political settlement.The UDA opposed the Anglo-Irish Agreement but was not in favour of a national strike over the issue. In January 1987 the UDA published the document "common sense" plans for a future political settlement.
The document did receive favourable responses from the British government, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). In December 1987 John McMichael, then deputy leader of the UDA, was killed in a bomb attack carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). However, it was alleged that fellow members of the UDA had set up McMichael. Early in 1988 Andy Tyrie was removed as leader of the UDA and control passed to an 'inner council' of six members. During 1988 large quantities of arms were secured by the UDA some of which came from South Africa. In October 1988 both the UDA and
Current Goals: The UDA has grown to be the largest Loyalist terrorist group in Northern Ireland. Officially, the group has observed a cease-fire since January 1998, but some observers believe that the UDA remains active through cover names. It is possible that the suspected cover names are actually splinter groups that have grown disaffected with the peace process and independently founded new groups in order to continue their terrorist activities. This possibility notwithstanding, the British government declared on October 12, 2001 that the UDA had broken its cease-fire de facto. This declaration lends credence to the theories that two newer splinter groups, the Orange Volunteers and Red Hand Defenders, are actually cover names used by the Ulster Defense Association. The Ulster Defence Association is also closely connected to the Ulster Freedom Fighters. From the 1970s until the early 1990s the UDA was able to use the Ulster Freedom Fighters as a covert terrorist organization. Through this deception, the Ulster Defense Association was able to maintain a legal status in Northern Ireland until 1992. However, the two groups have effectively merged into one group. Information provided by http://proddygirl.co.uk/uda.htm I would like to thank proddygirl for giving me permission to use this information
As this page and the page before gives a brief history of the uda and uvf. People most remember the fued a few years ago but in my opinion they are still the men who put their lives on the line to fight against the enimies of the union sf/ira