About me

In 2009 I attained a Ph.D. at Queen’s University Belfast. My thesis was entitled ‘The Protestant working class in Northern Ireland: political allegiance and social and cultural challenges since the 1960s’

I worked for three years from 2009 until 2012 as a parliamentary researcher with the Northern Ireland Assembly Research and Information Service. After leaving the NIA I spent seven years working as a researcher with the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry and then the Renewable Heat Incentive Inquiry.

During that time I kept up my interest in the history of the Troubles and from 2012 until 2015 I held a Visiting Research Fellowship with teaching duties at Queen’s University Belfast School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy.

In 2016 my first book Tartan Gangs and Paramilitaries – The Loyalist Backlash was published (Liverpool University Press)

Praise for Tartan Gangs and Paramilitaries:

Gareth Mulvenna has written a classic with this study of the emergence of the Tartan gangs of Belfast in the early 1970’s and their subsequent absorption, often as enthusiastic killers, into the ranks of the UVF, Red Hand Commando and Ulster Defence Association.

Ed Moloney, author of Voices from the Grave (Faber, 2010), Paisley – From Demagogue to Democrat (Poolbeg, 2008) A Secret History of the IRA (Penguin, 2002)

This is an important and valuable book. The story it tells is an important one and the concluding paragraph is bang on the money. Lessons still haven’t been learned from that journey from Tartan gang to paramilitary gang, so I hope that politicians – from all parties – will read this book.

Alex Kane, News Letter


On the back of my research for Tartan Gangs and Paramilitaries I was asked by the leader of the Progressive Unionist Party, Billy Hutchinson to collaborate with him on the writing of his autobiography. My Life in Loyalism was published in mid-November 2020 and was listed as one of the Irish Times Thirty books to look out for this autumn

Shortly after publication of My Life in Loyalism

While my main area of research over the past ten years has been loyalism and loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland I have maintained a broad interest in the hidden corners of the Troubles and the unheard stories and voices. This led me, in 2018, to set up a podcast entitled Hidden Histories of the Northern Ireland Troubles. Guests so far have included Beano Niblock, Brian Allaway, Henry McDonald, Paul Burgess and Jeffrey Dudgeon:

Interviews, Lectures and Presentations

Collaborating with Beano Niblock on the Belts and Boots to Bombs and Bullets event at the Spectrum Centre, Shankill Road in early 2019.
Speaking to NVTV about Belts and Boots to Bombs and Bullets in late 2018
Talking about the Tartan Gangs on BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster show
Talking about my book Tartan Gangs and Paramilitaries at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in October 2016
Talking about my research on the Orange Cross Loyalist prisoners welfare movement at the Prisons, Asylums, Workhouses: Institutions in Ireland Conference (3hr 22 mins in) June 2019
Talking about my book Tartan Gangs and Paramilitaries on NVTV
Talking about the event Boots and Belts to Bombs and Bullets for NVTV with Beano Niblock
Talking to Barry Sheppard on History Now (NVTV) about loyalist identity and commemorations with Dr Jonathan Evershed
‘Dear John’ – The Loyalist News and John McKeague – a lecture for the Linen Hall Library series on the Northern Ireland Political Collection

Podcast interviews:

Interview with Glenn Miller for the Made to Parade podcast featuring myself and Billy Hutchinson talking about My Life in Loyalism
Interview with the Irish History Show podcast about my research on early 1970s loyalism

Other work:

In 2015 I co-edited a monograph entitled The Contested Identities of Ulster Protestants with my friend Dr Paul Burgess.

I have also written for The Guardian, The Observer and Belfast Newsletter and have been invited to contribute to television and radio news programmes for Channel 4 and BBC NI.


If you would like to support my research and writing please find my PayPal link below.



Contact – gareth.mulvenna@gmail.com for commissioned research and writing.

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