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Ulster Special Constabulary

Ulster Special Constabulary, 1920–70. Formed as an auxiliary armed police force by the new Northern Irish government, the Ulster Specials in 1922 consisted of ‘A’ full-time, ‘B’ part-time, ‘C’ reserve with 5,500, 19,000, and 7,500 members respectively. Always dominated by old Ulster Volunteer Force and Orange order members and seen as a ruthless sectarian force by the catholic minority, it was reluctantly paid for by the British Treasury. After the early turbulent years of the province, the ‘A’s and ‘C’s were disbanded. The ‘B’ Specials became a target for criticism of their aggressive policing of civil rights marches in the late 1960s. The Hunt Report (October 1969) recommended their replacement by a new part-time security force, soon known as the Ulster Defence Regiment. The new, avowedly non-sectarian, force failed to recruit many catholics and was destined to be almost as controversial as the ‘B’ Specials.

Michael Hopkinson

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