‘Billy Wright – The First Paisleyite’

An academic article on the late LVF leader Billy Wright who was killed in the Maze prison by the INLA in 1997, written by a German student identified only by the initials ‘WL’.

The translation could be better but nonetheless this is an interesting piece tracing Wright’s politics and religion back to a more fundamental form of Free Presbyterianism – hence his long friendship with William McCrea and disillusionment with Ian Paisley.

Let me know if there any problems accessing the article.


7 responses to “‘Billy Wright – The First Paisleyite’

  1. Pingback: ‘Billy Wright – The First Paisleyite’ | The Broken Elbow – seachranaidhe1

  2. After two years interviewing dozens of former UVF members (including ones from Mid Ulster and Wright’s own unit), I’m convinced that Billy Wright is the most over-hyped thing since the Segway. He did operate in East Tyrone, but the “prestige” operations he was credited with – Liam Ryan, Sean Anderson, Cappagh, etc. – were carried out by another UVF unit. Wright’s unit tended to pick off the relatives, or less prominent republicans. That’s not to say he was a phony; just that, like Robin Jackson before him, he didn’t do half the things he was blamed for.

    He wasn’t a Free Presbyterian either, he was some sort of Baptist.

    • The Provos certainly thought otherwise, expending so much energy and time trying to kill him – or had they fallen for the story as well? their followers certainly did. how did the myth grow legs? why don’t you write a piece for me on the other side of the Billy Wright story?

      • I think they did fall for it, although it’s not like Wright was a bullshitter who’d never lifted a gun – he and his unit were very active operators. He just took credit for things he wasn’t involved with. I’m told some units instigated this to draw attention from them and confuse the security forces. Classic UVF tactic. The leadership would’ve been fine with that arrangement. He really developed a profile in early ’91 after appearing in the “Committee” documentary, which he was advised not to do. He’d also deliberately drive around republican areas after UVF operations, making sure he was seen by the locals. That’s how the whole “King Rat” mythology took off (with regular help from the Sunday World). As Terrytonic says below, he had a big ego and was a skilful self-promoter. That would’ve suited the more secretive figures in the country just fine. I think some republicans have begun to suss out that Wright wasn’t the be all and end all of the rural UVF, but the fact that it’s taken over 20 years attests to the potency of that King Rat myth.

        I’ll send you an email later on.

      • Someone need to document the Sunday World’s role in this…….

  3. I think the myth of Billy Wright has a lot to do with Billy Wright. When someone starts referring to themselves in the third person you know they are harbouring a huge ego. Johnny Adair did it and still does.. The only difference is he lacks ability Wright had to articulate himself.

    David Ervine stated that a leading member of the DUP was in private quite vocal in his opposition to the CLMC ceasefire. I wonder who he could have been talking about? It wouldn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure it out.

  4. Looking forward to that potential piece from Balaclava Street, would certainly be a fresh and welcome approach to Wright. Interesting to note that Ervine, in his Boston College interviews, said the same thing while speculating on the possibility of his role as an informer.

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