Northern Ireland has been the scene of a violent conflict between Catholics and Protestants for the past thirty years. Each side in the conflict has its own paramilitary or terrorist groups. The Catholic terrorists, the Irish Republican Army (IRA), are well known. However, the Protestant community produced its own band of terrorists who are responsible for about one third of deaths related to the conflict. This thesis is a case study of those Protestant paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland and the nature of what has been described as "pro-state" terror. It examines the rise of two key paramilitary groups, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Ulster Defense Association (UDA), as well as their composition, operations, and shortcomings. The roots of the paramilitary activity, Protestant strategic culture, and Ulster Protestants' unique relationship with Great Britain are discussed. The close relationship with Britain led to claims of security force collusion with the Protestant groups. This notion of collusion and a specific intelligence operation against the UDA involving a British Army agent, Brian Nelson, are assessed. The thesis concludes with observations regarding the impact of Protestant paramilitaries on the conflict and the need for continued intelligence on their activities and intentions.
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