UVF: Behind the Mask


Aaron Edwards

Foreword by Martin Dillon

June 2017

UVF: Behind the Mask is the gripping and shocking history of the Ulster Volunteer Force, from the formation of its post-1965 incarnation up to the present day. Aaron Edwards blends rigorous research with unprecedented access to leading members of the UVF.



UVF: Behind the Mask is the gripping new history of the Ulster Volunteer Force from its post-1965 incarnation to the present day. Aaron Edwards blends rigorous research with unprecedented access to leading members of the UVF to unearth the startling inner-workings of one of the world’s oldest and most ruthless paramilitary groups.

Through interviews with high-profile UVF leaders, such as Billy Mitchell, David Ervine, Billy Wright, Billy Hutchinson and Gary Haggarty, as well as their loyalist rivals including Johnny Adair, Edwards reveals the grisly details behind their sadistic torture and murder techniques and their litany of high-profile atrocities: McGurk’s Bar, the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, the Miami Showband massacre and the Shankill Butchers’ serial-killing spree, amongst others. Edwards’ life and career has led him to the centre of the UVF’s long, dark underbelly; in this defining work he offers a comprehensive and authoritative study of an armed group that continues to play a pivotal role in Northern Irish society.

Table of Contents

Foreword ~ Martin Dillon

Prologue: The Two Billys

  1. The Bishop
  2. ‘Hell Slap It Into Them’
  3. Liquidating the Enemy
  4. The Beginning of the End
  5. Talking and Killing
  6. Regimental Loyalty
  7. The Shankill and Its Butchers
  8. ‘That Bastard Murphy’
  9. A Million Miles from Home
  10. An Atmosphere of Pure History
  11. At the Bottom of the Well
  12. Compromise or Conflict
  13. The Kitchen Cabinet
  14. In the Hands of Philistines
  15. Their Only Crime Was Loyalty
  16. An Intense and Loyal Following
  17. ‘You’re Either with Us or Against Us’
  18. Family, in a Sicilian sense
  19. Decommissioning the Mindsets
  20. The Praetorian Guard

Epilogue: The Sealed Knot

About the Author
Aaron Edwards is a Senior Lecturer in Defence and International Affairs at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He is the author of several books, including, A History of the Northern Ireland Labour Party (2009) and Mad Mitch’s Tribal Law: Aden and the End of Empire, (2014).

Praise for UVF: Behind the Mask

‘Great historians are good storytellers and Aaron Edwards belongs in this class. His account of the modern UVF’s history is told without embellishment. Facts are carefully woven into the troubles historical tapestry … UVF: Behind The Mask is an excellent addition to the written history of the troubles.’
Martin Dillon

‘I have no doubt that … this new book by Aaron Edwards will be seen as the definitive history of the loyalist paramilitary grouping known as the Ulster Volunteer Force.’
Hugh Jordan, Sunday World

‘Aaron Edwards’ work is easily the best account of this little known but possibly most successful terror group of the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’.’
Jim Cusack, Irish Independent