NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (ALMOST)
25th February, 1914 : The paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) now has 100,000 armed men, it was claimed in Belfast today. With British Ministers still silent about their next moves in the crisis over Ulster’s opposition to to Home Rule for Ireland as a whole, the increasing size and professionalism of the UVF has become a potent factor in stoking up the tension. It is barely a year since the Ulster Unionist Council set up the UVF to help the provisional “government” for Ulster should the Home Rule Bill ever become law. There are two main reasons for the UVF’s swift growth.
First, there has been the failure of Sir Edward Carson’s efforts to exclude Ulster from the scope of the Bill, despite powerful backing from F E Smith and Bonar Law on the Tory front bench. Second, General Sir George Richardson, the UVF’s commander, and his staff of English officers have greatly improved its organisation at county level, encouraging more men to join the ranks. This sharpening of preparations was very evident yesterday when Sir George and his chief of staff, Colonel Hackett Pain, were in Tyrone to watch an exercise involving six defending and six attacking companies. Afterwards the General called for more attacking practice. Among the men, the feeling is that civil war will come.