The Ulster Volunteer Force was originally an organisation created in 1912 to resist Home Rule. The name was revived in 1966 by hardline unionists opposed to the reform policies of Northern Ireland Prime Minister Terence O'Neill.
It was a series of UVF bombs, which were blamed on the IRA, that finally forced O'Neill to resign in 1969. The stated aim of the UVF was to kill members of the IRA. During the Troubles, the group is believed to have killed more than 480 people from across the sectarian divide.
In December 1971, the UVF planted a bomb at a bar in Belfast, killing 15. The group may also have been responsible for the 1974 bombings in Dublin and Monaghan that killed 33 - the single worst atrocity of the Troubles.
The Red Hand Commando is a loyalist paramilitary group closely identified with the UVF.
The UVF has links with the Progressive Unionist Party. It has observed a ceasefire since 1994.