My Life in Loyalism: Billy Hutchinson’s journey from paramilitary to politician

Book review: A reminder of some of the dark contradictions within the myths of loyalism

Leader of Northern Ireland’s Progressive Unionist Party, Billy Hutchinson. Photograph: Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty

Leader of Northern Ireland’s Progressive Unionist Party, Billy Hutchinson. Photograph: Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty

All politicians, all politics, all political movements – even those that descend into violence – contain contradictions. Loyalism, and specifically that of Billy Hutchinson, the most prominent surviving former loyalist paramilitary still engaged in electoral politics, is no different.

The figure that emerges from this memoir, My Life in Loyalism, co-written with Gareth Mulvenna, is of someone both persuaded of the futility of violence but still convinced – at least to some extent – of its occasional necessity, or perhaps its inevitability, in certain circumstances.

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