CAIN Web Service

United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) Strike (1977)
- Summary of Events

[Key_Events] Key_Issues] [Conflict_Background]
UUAC STRIKE: [Menu] [Reading] [Summary] [Background] [Chronology] [Main Pages] [Assessment] [Legacy] [Sources]

Page Compiled: Martin Melaugh
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change

United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) Strike (1977)
- Summary of Events

The Loyalist strike 1977 - "Paisley’s strike", as the public saw it - was an ignominious failure which many thought would help to strengthen Paisley’s moderate Official Unionist rivals and thus pave the way for a political settlement between Nationalists and Unionists. The strike in fact had the opposite effect. Although an operational disaster, the strike touched a Protestant nerve, an achievement which was given eloquent expression by substantial DUP gains in the local council elections which immediately followed it.
Moloney, Ed., and Pollak, Andy. (1986) Paisley. Dublin: Poolbeg Press Ltd. Page 363

Increasingly desperate, the loyalist paramilitary groups escalated their violence, and there were three deaths in one day as loyalists blew up a filling station and shot dead a bus driver. None of this helped the strikers’ cause and the stoppage was ignominiously called off soon afterwards, Paisley declining to stand by a pledge to retire from political life if the strike failed. Although the strike collapsed, Mason acknowledged in his memoirs that it was a close-run thing, writing: ‘At any moment during the ten days of crisis, the balance could so easily have tilted against the government. Intimidation might have worked; Paisley might have succeeded in rallying the great mass of Protestants.’
McKittrick, David. (2000) Making Sense of the Troubles. Belfast: Blackstaff Press. Page 121


The UUAC strike refers to the strike organised by the United Unionist Action Council in May 1977. The UUAC included political figures such as Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and Ernest Baird, then leader of the United Ulster Unionist Movement (UUUM), together with members of the Ulster Workers' Council (UWC), and members of Loyalist paramilitary groups including the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). The main aims of the strike were to restore devolved government to Northern Ireland under a system of simple majority rule, and to force the British government to introduce tougher security measures against the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

The UUAC strike began on 3 May 1977 and was called off on 13 May 1977. Most commentators described the strike as a failure however Ian Paisley, who had stated that he would quit politics if it failed, declared it a success.


CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.

go to the top of this page go to the top of this page
Last modified :