The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) is a loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland which broke away from the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and was led by Billy Wright. It is outlawed as a terrorist organisation in the UK and Republic of Ireland. The United States has designated it a terrorist organisation also.
Wright then took most of the unit's members with him and set up the LVF. Wright (who had previously been a lay preacher) is believed to have exerted a strong moral force among LVF members, for example, banning pornography in the LVF wing of the HMP Maze prison.
Although believed to be behind many atrocities in the mid-Ulster area—centred on the Lurgan/Portadown area, including many attacks on civilians, Wright was finally charged with menacing behaviour and sentenced to eight years at the Maze prison. There he demanded a separate wing for the LVF prisoners. The authorities agreed and the wing became a gathering point for various dissident shades of loyalist paramilitaries, including many from Belfast and north Down.
As Wright sat in a van waiting to be taken for a visit, three men scaled a number of roofs in the prison before running across a courtyard and shooting Wright dead.
The INLA claimed that the killing was in reprisal for Wright's sectarianism: neither of the two other LVF men in the prison van, one of whom was on remand for beating to death a Catholic teenager, was harmed.
In May 1998 it called a cease-fire and urged people to vote No in the referendum. The NIO accepted its cease-fire in November making its prisoners eligible for the early release scheme under the Belfast Agreement. Later, it handed over a small amount of weapons to the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning. The weapons; four sub-machine guns, two rifles, two pistols, a sawn-off shotgun, 348 rounds of ball ammunition, 31 shotgun shells, five electrical detonators, two pipe bombs, two weapons stocks and five assorted magazines, were destroyed and recorded via video.
Wright's successor as LVF leader, Mark Fulton, was found hanged in Maghaberry prison in 2002. He is believed to have committed suicide.
Following a particularly bloody feud with the UVF in the summer of 2005, and loyalist violence in Belfast city that September, the LVF announced in October 2005 that it was standing down following the IRA's previous standing down and disarmament In February 2006, the Independent Monitoring Commission confirmed that the feud with the UVF was over, but said that the LVF's involvement with organized crime and drug trafficking continued, describing it as a "deeply criminal organization".
Chris Anderson wrote a biography of Billy Wright entitled "The Billy Boy - The Life And Death Of LVF Leader Billy Wright" (ISBN 1-84018-639-9)
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