Belfast — Northern Ireland's largest Protestant paramilitary group, the Ulster Defense Association, has announced the formation of a political party to campaign for an independent Ulster. Two factors are behind this development: Andrew Tyrie's emergence as UDA chairman and the rethinking process the group has gone through since 1977, when the UDA failed in an attempt to paralyze Ulster by a strike protesting the perceived lack of government success against the Provisional wing of the illegal Irish Republican Army (IRA).
A UDA research group considered three options for the province: remaining a part of Britain, joining a federal Ireland, or seeking independence. Surprisingly, perhaps, the group opted to seek independence.
"We will have to stop being imitation Englishmen and imitation Irish southerners. We will have to learn to form a distinct Ulster identity," Mr. Tyrie says.
The UDA's greatest problem is to regain credibility after its checkere d history of violence.