As I’m being kept awake by Eleventh Night celebrations nearby it seems like as good a time as any to start on the factions for my alt history 1938 Northern Ireland. This post will talk about the “official” government, or at least what’s left of it, as the nation begins to fracture. If you’re interested in the broader background you can find it in my previous post.
The main defining feature of the LDSNI is their loyalty. They are the loyalest of the loyal loyalists. It doesn’t quite matter who or what it is they are loyal to, just that there is an overwhelming sense of loyalty. It’s in their very DNA. For many in the troubling times of the AVBCW universe knowing who or what to be loyal to has become a difficult question, but for the LDSNI government they know they are Loyal, Protestant and British and that’s all that matters. Once the silly English with their disloyal civil war work out just what being British means, they’ll be happy to give their loyalty to them again. For now though, they are loyal to God and Ulster and Tradition*.
Formed from the Ulster Unionist government, “a Protestant Parliament and a Protestant State”, that ruled the province from Stormont, this is certainly the most powerful faction at the start of the period. Led by Prime Minister James Craig, the Viscount Craigavon, the government is made up entirely of wealthy Protestant Orangemen and very much reflects the views and outlook of the Unionist Protestant Ascendancy. The Orange Order, a quasi-masonic Irish Protestant organisation named in tribute to a Dutch king, plays a large role in the political makeup of the government, with all MPs being Orangemen and key advisors hailing from the Grand Lodge Council.
Moving quickly to reform the local military regiments left behind by the British withdrawn, namely the Royal Ulster Rifles, the Royal Irish Fusiliers and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, into a new military force, the Loyal Ulster Defenders (LUD), they seize as much abandoned military hardware as they can and direct the two former Fusilier regiments to set up a military headquarters in their barracks in Omagh with the aim of securing the border, while the former Rifles secure a base around their newly built barracks in the loyalist heartland of Ballymena. This means their military is the best armed, trained and equipped in the province.
With chaos erupting in Belfast with the socialist uprising, and the West becoming a hotbed of Irish Republican revolution, the LDSNI are shocked to find the South East, a good solid Protestant region, declaring against them with the formation of the UPL.
With Belfast proving to be less than salubrious, they are forced to consider withdrawing northwards to set up a new capital at Ballymena until they can muster their forces to secure their position and push back against the rebels. Confident that the socialists will soon tire themselves out with riot and revolution and soon turn to internal bickering, their focus is primarily directed towards the Republican threat in the West, with Donegal in revolt, Londonderry at war with Derry across the banks of the Foyle and the new LUD forces at Omagh in a precarious position as IDRA militants pop up all around them. Securing those positions and reinforcing the border of the T-Line spitting Ireland in three is crucial lest the two Southern behemoths arise from their cold war slumber and strike northwards.
The LDSNI and LUD don’t stand alone. Loyalists and Orangemen across the province have risen up to support their government and formed their own paramilitary organisations. The most prominent is that of the Loyal Ulster Volunteers, or ‘Luvvies’ as they’ve come to be known (out of earshot). They are led by the eccentric (self styled) Grand Marshal William King, a man with a penchant for dressing up in 17th century garb and riding his horse everywhere, behaviour which would have led to ridicule were he not also the sort of man whose head seemed to merge with his shoulders without the need for an intervening neck and who posessed a glare that would be banned by the Geneva Convention. The heady combination of fear and awe that he inspires encourages many in the community to join the Luvvies and swear loyalty to, rather worryingly, Billy, God and Ulster.
Regardless, these paramilitaries could support the thinly spread LDSNI wherever they are able, provided their goals, beliefs and Traditions continue to align. There are rumblings, however, within the government that “The King” may have grander ambitions than mere support of the status quo. Not only that, others within the government question just where their loyalties lie. To the ill favoured King Edward? Or the newly declared Prince Bertie? Or to a higher power like Calvinists of old? Crisis has brought the government together to face a threat but whether the enemy without also raises enemies within remains to be seen.
*This seems to involve a lot of red faced men in silly black hats and orange sashes marching around with drums and pipes and setting things on fire. This may be somewhat confusing to outsiders but it’s okay because it’s Traditional and part of their Culture and is therefore completely excusable.
There’ll be more posts on the other major factions in future, and I’ve started planning out the first few games of the campaign. It’ll be a good while before in ready to play them out but that’ll give me plenty of time to flesh out the world a bit more. It seems the racket outside has died down so that’ll do me for tonight!
Thanks for reading,