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Ulster Protestants launch independence party

Northern Ireland's largest Protestant paramilitary group, the Ulster Defense Association, has announced the formation of a political party to campaign for an independent Ulster. Two factors are behind this development: Andrew Tyrie's emergence as UDA chairman and the rethinking process the group has gone through since 1977, when the UDA failed in an attempt to paralyze Ulster by a strike protesting the perceived lack of government success against the Provisional wing of the illegal Irish Republican Army (IRA).

A UDA research group considered three options for the province: remaining a part of Britain, joining a federal Ireland, or seeking independence. Surprisingly, perhaps, the group opted to seek independence.

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"We will have to stop being imitation Englishmen and imitation Irish southerners. We will have to learn to form a distinct Ulster identity," Mr. Tyrie says.

The UDA's greatest problem is to regain credibility after its checkere d history of violence.

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