In the aftermath of the Swanzy Riots, Lisburn Urban District Council swore in hundreds of special constables to help keep peace in the town. Several of these Special Constables were later charged with rioting and looting offences in connection to the August violence.
Ernest Clarke, Assistant Under-Secretary for Ireland, had visited Lisburn in September and October 1920, examined the Lisburn Specials, and left ‘delighted with all that he learned and saw’. By November, recruitment for a new province-wide Special Constabulary (later known as the U.S.C.) was underway. Alarmed at the rising tide of violence in the north, Sir James Craig had argued that the six counties (future Northern Ireland) needed an armed force to protect the ‘loyal’ population.
The force was split into three classes: the ‘A’ specials would top up the R.I.C. in Ulster, while the non-uniformed and unpaid ‘B’ class patrolled their local area regularly. ‘C’ class constables were only mobilised in emergencies. Potential recruits enlisted in local police stations. Lisburn had two barracks, at Smithfield and Railway Street; Largymore barracks had been closed following the August riots. With limited training, the new special constables were deployed by December 1920.
While recruitment was initially slow, by 1922 there were over 35,000 members. Very few Catholics joined the U.S.C. it was viewed as a partisan force.