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Abstracts on Organisations - 'S'

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Compiled: Martin Melaugh ... Additional Material: Brendan Lynn and Fionnuala McKenna
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change

initial letter of the name of the organisation

(Saoirse is an Irish word which means 'freedom' or 'liberty'.)
Saoirse is the main Republican prisoner support organisation which campaigned to protect the interests and to press for the release of those imprisoned as a result of their involvement in the conflict in Northern Ireland. Saoirse publicity material used a number of symbols including a green ribbon, a dove, and barbed wire.

Saoirse na hÉireann (SNH)
A short-lived Dissident Republican grouping first mentioned by the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) in its eighth report published in February 2006 and again in its tenth report in April 2006. It was thought to have operated largely in republican areas of Belfast and have been responsible for number of bomb hoaxes.
[Entry added by Brendan Lynn, September 2011]

Saor Éire
(Saor Éire is an Irish term for 'Free Ireland'.)
synonyms: Saor Éire Action Group
A minor Republican paramilitary group which was active in the 1960s and 1970s. Initially established in 1931 as left-wing Republican group. The group reappeared in the 1960s when it was believed to be involved in bank robberies in the Republic of Ireland. In 1975 SE made threats against both the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) and the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) at a time when both organisations were engaged in a feud in Belfast.

Saor Uladh (SU)
(Saor Uladh is an Irish term for 'Free Ulster'.)
In its 21st report the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) noted the emergence in Belfast of Saor Uladh (SU), consisting largely of former members of the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA). Although the IMC concluded that SU had not yet conducted any paramilitary operation, it would be kept under review.
[Entry added by Brendan Lynn, September 2011]

(Saoradh is an Irish term for 'Liberation'.)

Saoradh was formed on 24 September 2016 by Republicans who were opposed to the peace process. It is a left-wing political grouping which views itself as a Revolutionary Irish Republican Party and seeks to end "Britain's illegal occupation in the six counties" and to establish a 32-county Irish Socialist Republic. The group has members in Ireland and the north. Saoradh is led by a 12-person National Executive and its chairperson is Brian Kenna. Saoradh has its head office in Belfast, and also offices in Derry and Dublin. Various media outlets have referred to Saoradh as the political wing of the [new] Irish Republican Army (IRA) but this is denied by representatives of the group. Saoradh's constitution allows for the organisation to contest elections for Westminster, Stormont and Leinster House but only on an "abstentionist ticket".

Following the killing of Lyra McKee by the [new] IRA in Derry on 18 April 2019, Saoradh came under a lot of pressure over some statements it made about the incident and its alleged connections to the paramilitary group. On 22 April 2019 friends of McKee held a protest outside the Saoradh office in Chamberlain Street, Derry during which they placed red handprints on the wall of the building and on Saoradh murals (Belfast Telegraph). On 28 April 2019 it was reported (by Sunday Life) that the owners of the building had given Saoradh one month to vacate the premises. Saoradh's social media accounts also stopped working in the aftermath of the killing of McKee.

Website: [Not currently working (30 April 2019)]

Saint Columb's Park House (SCPH)
synonyms: Saint Columb's Reconciliation Trust
Sain Columb's Park House in Derry is a day and residential centre focusing on community relations and community development. The house was opened in1994 but the Trust had been established in 1992.
[additional information]

Scottish Unionist Party (SUP)
A small political party established in April 1986 in Scotland to support the campaign against the Anglo-Irish Agreement. The SUP was supported by the Orange Order in Scotland.

Security Service
synonyms: MI5
Security Service (popularly know as 'MI5') is the United Kingdom's (UK) security intelligence agency. MI5 states its objectives as: "to protect national security from threats such as terrorism, espionage and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, to safeguard the economic well-being of the UK against foreign threats, and to support the law enforcement agencies in preventing and detecting serious crime." (source: Security Service web site). Secret Intelligence Service ('MI6') deals mainly with security intelligence overseas.
It is likely that MI5 took a serious interest in Northern Ireland affairs around 1970 with the emergence of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA). The imposition of 'Direct Rule' on 30 March 1972 would have resulted in a greater role for MI5 in the region. The role of MI5 within Northern Ireland was only officially acknowledged in 1989 when the Secretary of State was empowered to authorise specific bugging or burglaries by MI5 agents. The powers were part of the Security Service Act 1989. Kenneth Clarke, then British Home Secretary, announced in 1992 (?) that MI5 would have lead responsibility for gathering intelligence on the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Britain; this role was formerly undertaken by Scotland Yard Special Branch. Prior to 1992 MI5 had been responsible for gathering intelligence on Loyalist paramilitary groups in Britain.
[Entry added by Martin Melaugh, January 2002]

Shankill Defence Association (SDA)
A Loyalist vigilante group which was set up in the summer of 1969. The group was led by John McKeague and at its height claimed a membership of 1,000. Many members of the SDA were believed to officers in the Ulster Special Constabulary (the 'B-Specials'). The Scarman report found that the SDA had 'encouraged' Catholic families to leave Protestant areas of Belfast. McKeague was cleared, in November 1969, of a charge of conspiracy to cause explosions. The SDA is believed to have formed one of the main components of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). McKeague was shot dead by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) on 29 January 1982.

Shankill Stress and Trauma Centre
An orgainsation set up to support victims of the conflict.
(See: Details on vicitims organisations.)

Silent Too Long (STL)
A group set up in 1981 by the relatives of innocent Catholics victims of the conflict. STL maintained that most of these victims had been ignored by the authorities. The group received financial assistance from NORAID for a publicity trip to the United States of America.

Sinn Féin (SF)
synonyms: Provisional Sinn Féin
A political party which represents the view of many Republicans in Northern Ireland. The party is dedicated to the achievement of a united Ireland. SF supports the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and is viewed as the political wing of the IRA. The party has consistently refused to condemn the use of force by the IRA, but it has on occasion said that it regretted the loss of innocent life that occured in some IRA attacks. The party was formed out the split in the IRA in January 1970 when the original SF split into the Official SF and the Provisional SF. The party began to take part in elections following the sucess in Westminster by-elections by Republican prisoners who took part in the 'Hunger Strike' of 1981. In the Assembly election in October 1982 SF obtained 10 per cent of the vote which represented a major breakthrough for the party. In the Westminster election of 1983 SF attacted 13.4 per cent and Gerry Adams won the West Belfast seat. The standing of SF in the polls, and the fear that it would surpass the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) as the main voice of Nationalists in Northern Ireland, was one of the reasons why the British government signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985.

At the SF Ard Fheis on 2 November 1986 the party decided to end its abstentionist policy and to take any Dáil seats won in future. The new policy led to a number of members leaving to form Republican Sinn Féin (RSF). In 1993 the party entered into renewed talks with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), these meetings marked the beginning of the current Peace Process. After the announcement of a second IRA ceasefire in July 1997 SF was allowed to participate in the multi-party talks in September 1997. The party was therefore to play a role in the negotiations that were to produce the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in April 1998 and campaigned for a 'Yes' vote in the subsequent referendum campaign in May 1998. As a consequence SF decided once again to review its abstentionist policy and in May 1998 decided that it should take any seats it won in the Northern Ireland Assembly proposed under the GFA. In the election to this body in June 199 SF gained 18 seats and when power was devolved to the Assembly in November 1999 the party was entitled to two positions in the new Executive which was to govern Northern Ireland. During the life span of the Assembly (1998-2003) SF objected when the operation of the GFA was suspended and called for the full implementation of the GFA.
With SF's growing involvement in the political process came increasing evidence that the party was emerging as a major rival to the SDLP as the voice of the nationalist electorate in Northern Ireland. At the Westminster election and local government poll in June 2001 SF emerged as the largest nationalist party in Northern Ireland when it gained 21.71 per cent and 20.66 per cent of the vote respectively. This electoral momentum was maintained in the assembly election of November 2003 with the party winning 24 seats and 23.52 per cent of the vote. In the Republic of Ireland it has taken SF longer to develop a strong political base and it was not until after the general election of June 1997 that it succeeded in gaining representation in the Dáil when it won a single seat. But in turn this success was built upon in the general election of May 2002 when the party won five seats.

English, Richard. (2003). Armed Struggle: A History of the IRA. London: Macmillan.
Feeney, Brian. (2002). Sinn Féin: A Hundred Turbulent Years. Dublin: The O'Brien Press Ltd.
O'Brien, Brendan. (1995). The Long War: The IRA and Sinn Féin from Armed Struggle to the Peace Process.
Taylor, Peter. (1997). The Provos: The IRA and Sinn Féin.
Clarke, Liam. (1987). Broadening the Battlefield: The H Blocks and the rise of Sinn Féin.

See Also:
Lynn, Brendan. (2001). 'Republicanism and the Abstentionist Tradition, 1970-1998'. A Paper Presented to the Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University Belfast, May 2001.
Republican Movement. (1994). The 'TUAS' Document. (An internal Republican Movement document that is thought to date from the summer of 1994.)
Sinn Féin. (1979). Éire Nua, The Sinn Féin Policy - The Social, Economic and Political Dimensions (1979). Dublin: Sinn Féin.
Sinn Féin. (1979-). Sinn Féin: Republican Lecture Series - List of Pamphlets. Dublin: Sinn Féin Education Department.

[Web Site]

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP)
One of the two main Nationalist parties in Northern Ireland. The party was formed on 21 August 1970 and its first leader was Gerry Fitt. Many of those who were members of the Nationalist Party joined the SDLP. The party receives support mainly from middle-class and working-class Catholics. The SDLP is a constitutional democratic party which wants to see the reunification of Ireland by agreement. The party withdrew from Stormont in July 1971 in protest at the introduction of Internment. It also supported the civil disobedience campaign which involved the withholding of rent (on public sector houses) and rates. In September 1972 the party proposed a form of joint sovereignty over Northern Ireland. The proposals were contained in the document Towards a New Ireland. The SDLP refused to take part in the Darlington conference in 1972. However, the party took part in the power-sharing Executive which lasted from January to May 1974. The SDLP also took part in the Constitutional Covention election in May 1975 and secured 23.7 per cent of the vote. In 1977 Paddy Devlin was expelled from the party following his criticism that the SDLP had moved away from socialist principals.

In 1979 John Hume, then deputy leader of the SDLP, took 25 per cent of the vote in the European election to win one of the three Northern Ireland seats. In 1979 Gerry Fitt resigned from the party saying that it was renouncing its socialist principles and was becoming more 'green Nationalist'. John Hume replaced Fitt as party leader. In 1982 the party was against the plan for 'rolling devolution'. In the 1983 Westminster election the party refused to enter an electoral pact with Sinn Féin (SF) and fought all 17 seats. However the party won only one seat when John Hume took the Foyle constituency. The SDLP took part in the New Ireland Forum and many of its ideas were incorportated in the report of the forum. Seamus Mallon won the 1986 Westminster by-election in Newry and Mourne and Eddie McGrady won the South Down seat in the 1987 Westminster election. During 1988 John Hume held a series of talks with Gerry Adams, then President of SF, in an attempt to persuade SF that the IRA should call an end to its campaign of violence. Further talks between Hume and Adams in 1993 produced strains within the SDLP. The party supported the Downing Street Declaration in December 1993.

Although the party was critical of the proposals to establish the Northern Ireland Forum in May 1996 it did take part in the election but then refused to take any active part in the Forum's meetings. Instead the SDLP concentrated on the multi-party talks that commenced in June 1996. When these culminated with the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in April 1998 it campaigned for a 'Yes' vote in the subsequent referendum in May 1998. At the elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly in June 1998 the party topped the poll in terms of votes cast with 21.96 per cent but ended up in second place with regards to the number of seats won, with 24 in total. When power was devolved to the Assembly in November 1999 this performance allowed the party to claim four seats in the Executive, including that of Deputy First Minister. Following the Westminster general election of 2001 John Hume retired as leader of the party and was succeeded by Mark Durkan. In this role Durkan had to deal with the growing electoral challenge to the SDLP by Sinn Féin, which by then had emerged as the largest nationalist party in Northern Ireland. The party's decline was then further illustrated at the Assembly election in November 2003 when it polled badly winning only 16.99 per cent of the vote and securing only 18 seats.

In November 2001 Mark Durkan succed John Hume as leader of the SDLP. In February 2010 Margaret Ritchie replaced Mark Durkan as leader. However, she in turn was replaced by Alasdair McDonnell on 6 November 2011.

See: John Hume: Speeches, Statements, and Articles
Murray, Gerard. (1998) John Hume and the SDLP: Impact and Survival in Northern Ireland
McAllister, Ian. (1977) The Northern Ireland Social Democratic and Labour Party: Political Opposition in a Divided Society.

[Web Site]

Social Democratic Party (SDP)
synonyns: Liberal Democrats, Social and Liberal Democrats
(See: Liberal Democrat Party, LDP.)

Socialist Party (SP)
The Socialist Party is a Dublin-based Trotskyist party affiliated to the Committee for a Workers International and led in Northern Ireland by Peter Hadden (regional secretary). The Socialist Party calls for a “secular, democratic and socialist society” and opposes “the dictatorship of the bosses and the capitalist market”.

Socialist Workers' Party (SWP)
The Socialist Workers' Party (SWP) is a Trotskyist formation with perhaps two dozen members in Northern Ireland and no regional office.
[Web Site]

South Armagh Republican Action Force
A Republican paramilitary group which claimed responsibility for a number of killings in the South Armagh area during 1975. The group was believed to be a covername used by some members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the area.

South Down Action for Healing Wounds
An orgainsation set up to support victims of the conflict. (xx)
(See: Details on vicitims organisations.)

Speak Your Piece (SYP)
SYP was established in 1995 to tackle controversial issues affecting young people in schools, youth and community groups in Northern Ireland. The project was involved in the production of a series of 5 television programmes, Off the Walls, as a starting point for work which would explore the issues of identity, culture, religion and politics. The partners in the project were: European Regional Development Fund, Department of Educaiton for Northern Ireland, Youth Council for Northern Ireland, Channel 4 Television, Ulster Television, and the University of Ulster.
[Web Site]

Special Air Service (SAS)
A secretive and elite regiment of the British Army. The SAS has been used in Northern Ireland (officially) since 7 January 1976 in operations against the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The SAS has been involved in a number of incidents which led oponents to claim that the security services were operating a 'shoot-to-kill' policy. On 8 May 1987 the SAS shot dead 8 members of the IRA as the IRA were carring out an attack on a police station in Loughgall, County Armagh.

Special Branch
synonyms: RUC intelligence division
The intelligence department within the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was known as Special Branch. Special Branch was one of a number of agencies operating in Northern Ireland that had an intelligence remit - others included Military (or Army) Intelligence, and the Security Service (MI5). Special Branch was described by John Stalker as a 'force within a force'. On matters related to operations against paramilitary organisations, Special Branch had primacy over other RUC departments. A former Chief Superintendent alleged that: "From the running of informants, to arrests and raid operations or even surveillance, we needed Special Branch approval. And it was only given if it suited them." (source: 'Insight' programmme, UTV, 1 May 2001) [There were additional allegations that the Security Service (MI5) had control over aspects of the operation of Special Branch.] One of the recommendations (no.98) of the Patten Report was that: "Special Branch and Crime Branch should be brought together under the command of a single Assistant Chief Constable".
(See also: Royal Ulster Constabulary, RUC; Police Service of Northern Ireland, PSNI.)
[Entry added by Martin Melaugh, January 2002]

Speedwell Project (SP)
The project was established in 1991, in Parkanur Forest Park, as a cross-community project to bring Catholic and Protestant school children together through curriculum-based programmes. The work is mainly environmental and encourages the young people to appreciate the world they share and recognise the need for its conservation.

Spirit Of Drumcree (SOD)
An extreme presure group within the Orange Order which campaigns against what it says is the comprising attitude of those in authority in the Order. The group was established in 1995 ? and is named after the Drumcree area of Portadown, County Armagh, where the Orange Order was engaged in a stand-off with security forces in 1995, 1996 and 1997 ?.

Spirit of Enniskillen Trust
A group set up in 1989 to allow young people (16 to 19 years of age) to travel to travel to other countries to see how people overcome their differences. The trust was established as result of the Enniskillen bombing on Remembrance Sunday 1987.

Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights (SACHR)
The SACHR was an official body which was established under the 1973 Constitution Act. The body was set up to monitor how effective anti-discrimination laws and regulations were in effect. The SACHR has produced a range of reports over the years. The body has been independent of, and on numerous occasions, highly critical of many aspects of the administration of Northern Ireland. It pressed that laws on divorce and homosexuality should be brought into line with the rest of the UK; it supported the use of three-judge courts to deal with offences related to the conflict; it urged the ending of Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) exclusion orders; it called for a review of the law on the use of reasonable force by the security forces; it has also issued reports on fair employment, a Bill of Rights, race relations, and disability. The SACHR was replaced by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) on 1 March 1999.
List of SACHR Publications

Strategic Review of Parading Body, The (SRP)
The terms of reference for The Strategic Review of Parading Body were announced in February 2007. The Review was established by the British government through the Northern Ireland Office. The appointments to the Review Body were made in April 2007. The Review Body conducted a period of consultation before publishing an Interim Report on 29 April 2008. There was to be a period of further consultation and feedback on the suggestions contained in the Interim Report before a final report was due to be submitted to the Secretary of State in the autumn of 2008.

Selection of Publications by the SRP:
Strategic Review of Parading (SRP). (2008). Strategic Review of Parading in Northern Ireland, Interim Consultative Report, (29 April 2008), [PDF; 2216KB]. Belfast: Strategic Review of Parading Body.
Strategic Review of Parading (SRP). (2008). Strategic Review of Parading in Northern Ireland, Views of Key Stakeholders, (29 April 2008), [PDF; 1838KB]. Belfast: Strategic Review of Parading Body.
[Web Site]

Survivors of Trauma
An orgainsation set up to support victims of the conflict.
(See: Details on vicitims organisations.)

(xx)     Indicates that an entry is being prepared.
(?)     Information is a best estimate while awaiting an update.
(??)     Information is doubtful and is awaiting an update.
[Main Entry]     Indicates that a longer separate entry is planned in the future.

For related and background information see also:

  • The list of acronyms associated with 'the Troubles'.
  • The glossary of terms related to the conflict.
  • The biographies of people who were prominent during 'the Troubles'.
  • The chronology of the conflict.

The information in the abstracts has been compiled from numerous primary and secondary sources. The best general sources for additional information are:

initial letter of the name of the organisation

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

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