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Irish Republican Army

Irish Republican Army

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The term Irish Republican Army was first used during the Fenian raids in Canada during the 1860s. Today the term is used in concert with the outbreaks of violence throughout Ireland, and especially in Northern Ireland, called the Troubles. The Irish Republican Army has a much longer history than that begun in the late 1960s and early 1970s, having been instrumental in the Easter Uprising in 1916. The Troubles refers to the sectarian conflict in Ireland (especially Northern Ireland) that began in the late 1960s.

The immediate postfamine years in Ireland were a period of escalating unrest between the Irish and their English occupiers. In 1916 the conflicts came to a head when a group of charismatic Irish began a revolt in Dublin. The focal point of the revolt was the General Post Office, now a shrine to their efforts, but the entire city, especially the area in and around OConnell Street and Parnell Square, was involved in the violent armed conflict. In the end, the leaders of the revolt were arrested, put in Kilmainham Gaol, and many were executed. In the aftermath of the uprising and their executions, Michael Collins (18901922) and others organized guerrilla forces against the English Black and Tans. These forces became known as the Irish Volunteers.

In 1919 the Dáil Éireann or First Dáil (the government of Ireland) recognized the Irish Volunteers as the Irish Republican Army (IRA), and they in turn fought the Irish War of Independence from 1919 to 1921 against the English. At the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, the IRA split into protreaty forces (which became known as the Old IRA, government forces, or regulars) and antitreaty forces (Republicans or irregulars). The antitreaty forces continued to use the name Irish Republican Army. In 1922 the two sides entered into the Irish Civil War, with the regulars led by Michael Collins on the side of the new Irish Free State, which still recognized England, and the Republicans led by Liam Lynch (18931923) refusing to recognize the new state or the partitioning of Northern Ireland. Collins was later assassinated by IRA members for his participation in the Civil War and support of the Free State government.

Éamon de Valera (18821975), a member of the antitreaty group Sinn Féin, eventually came to power as leader of the Fianna Fáil Party, currently the largest political party in Ireland. The IRA remained active in the Republic until the 1960s, when it split again to become the Official IRA (OIRA) and the Provisional IRA (PIRA). The Provisionals were most active in Northern Ireland and split with the Official IRA due to what they recognized as the OIRAs lack of protection for nationalist communities in the North. This split came in 1969 as violence between sectarian communities and Republican and Unionist groups began to escalate. This is often recognized as a conflict between Catholics and Protestants in the North, but the underlying reasons remain tension between Unionists (those who support English rule) and Republicans (those who support unity with the Republic of Ireland and devolution from England).

Bloody Sunday, a violent clash between protesters and British and Northern Irish troops in Derry in 1972, was a flashpoint in the sectarian conflicts. Troops opened fire upon the crowd of protesters killing thirteen, all of whom were unarmed. There are conflicting reports from those present that suggest either a gun was fired from the protesters side toward the troops or that the troops were commanded to fire on the agitated crowd. In the days and months that followed, extreme violence in the form of shootings, bombings, murders, and arson engulfed the North. The PIRA carried out many of the killings and are suspected to be the perpetrators of specific acts of violence carried out against the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the British army, among them the bombings of police stations and barracks and the targeting of pubs frequented by the RUC and the army. They are also accused of a number of attacks in Dublin and throughout the United Kingdom. In over thirty years of violence in Northern Ireland, more than three thousand people have died as a result of the conflict.

Since the mid-1990s, a process of political devolution has been under way in Northern Ireland. The peace process, as it is known, has been opposed by many, including the Real IRA, a splinter group of the PIRA that broke ranks in 1997. The Real IRA, considered to be a paramilitary group, has held out against the decommissioning of weapons as proposed in the Hume-Adams report. In 1993 the Hume-Adams initiative agreed to by John Hume, leader of the SDLP (the Norths nationalist party) and Gerry Adams was a directive to begin an IRA cease-fire and to include Sinn Féin in the peace talks. This in turn led to a series of cease-fires and began the peace process. Sinn Féin, led by Gerry Adams, entered the Dáil Éireann and now participates in the political decision-making process.

SEE ALSO Peace Process; Revolution

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Behan, Brendan. 1965. Confessions of an Irish Rebel. London: Hutchinson.

Coogan, Tim Pat. 2002. The IRA. Rev. ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Coogan, Tim Pat. 2002. The Troubles: Irelands Ordeal and the Search for Peace. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

English, Richard. 2003. Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Moloney, Ed. 2002. A Secret History of the IRA. New York: Norton.

Toolis, Kevin. 1995. Rebel Hearts: Journeys within the IRAs Soul. London: Picador.

Kelli Ann Costa

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"Irish Republican Army." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Irish Republican Army." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/irish-republican-army

"Irish Republican Army." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/irish-republican-army

Irish Republican Army

Irish Republican Army (IRA), nationalist organization devoted to the integration of Ireland as a complete and independent unit. Organized by Michael Collins from remnants of rebel units dispersed after the Easter Rebellion in 1916 (see Ireland), it was composed of the more militant members of the Irish Volunteers, and it became the military wing of the Sinn Féin party. With the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, the IRA became the stronghold of intransigent opposition to Ireland's dominion status and to the separation of Northern Ireland. During the troubled early years of the Free State, the IRA was responsible for numerous bombings, raids, and street battles on both sides of the Irish border.

Popular and effective at first, its fortunes turned after Eamon De Valera, a former IRA supporter, took over the Free State government in 1932. Weakened by internal dissensions, by a loss of popular support because of its violence and pro-German agitation during World War II, by the attainment of republican objectives in 1949, and by government measures against its illegal activities, the IRA declined swiftly. Eventually outlawed by both Irish governments, it became a secret organization. It perpetrated bombing attacks in Belfast, London, and at the Ulster border during the 1950s, particularly in 1956–57, but then became quiescent until the late 1960s.

In 1969 the IRA split into two groups, the majority, or "officials," advocating a united socialist Ireland but disavowing terrorist activities, and the "provisionals," claiming terrorism as a necessary catalyst for unification. The "provisionals" then began a systematic terrorist campaign in Northern Ireland. In 1972 the "provisionals" extended their terrorism to England, where it culminated in the bombing (1974) of a Birmingham pub that killed 19 persons. In response the British parliament passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act, outlawing the IRA in Britain. The IRA assassinated (1979) Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and unsuccessfully tried to assassinate Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Brighton, England.

In 1994 hopes for peace were raised when the IRA declared a cease-fire. Its legal political arm (Sinn Féin) began participating in talks with Britain in 1995, but the party was barred from the mid-1996 negotiations because of renewed terrorist bombings by the IRA. Following the IRA's announcement of a new cease-fire in July, 1997, Sinn Féin was allowed to participate in talks that convened in September of that year and resulted in an accord (Apr., 1998) that provided for a new Northern Ireland Assembly comprised of Protestants and Catholics, and greater cooperation between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Full implementation of the accord snagged for several months on the issue of IRA disarmament, but representatives of Sinn Féin participated in the new Northern Irish government established in Dec., 1999.

Britain suspended the new government in 2000 and again in 2001 over the IRA's refusal to agree to disarm, but in Oct., 2001, the IRA began disarming, albeit in secret. A number of incidents in 2002 that indicated the IRA had not abandoned paramilitary activity again led to the suspension of home rule. More recently, the IRA has been accused of involvement in organized criminal activities, such as bank robbery, extortion, smuggling, and counterfeiting. In July, 2005, the IRA announced it was ending its armed campaign, and an independent report (Sept., 2005) that stated the IRA had decommissioned its weapons was greeted with praise and hope by the British and Irish governments (and with disbelief by hard-line Protestant unionists). In July, 2006, the British and Irish governments indicated that they believed the IRA also had ceased all centrally organized criminal activities, and subsequent independent reports indicated that the IRA had taken steps to end its paramilitary operations.

See M. Dillon, The Dirty War (1990); P. Taylor, Behind the Mask (1998); E. Moloney, A Secret History of the IRA (2002).

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"Irish Republican Army." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Irish Republican Army." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/irish-republican-army

"Irish Republican Army." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/irish-republican-army

Irish Republican Army (IRA)

Irish Republican Army (IRA)

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) also operates as, or is known as, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA or "Provos").

The IRA formally became a terrorist group in 1969 as the clandestine armed wing of Sinn Fein, a legal political movement dedicated to removing British forces from Northern Ireland and unifying Ireland. The IRA originated with a Marxist orientation and was organized into small, tightly knit cells under the leadership of the Army Council. The IRA has been observing a cease-fire since 1997 and in October 2001, took the historic step of putting an unspecified amount of arms and ammunition "completely beyond use." The International Commission on Decommissioning characterized the step as a significant act of decommissioning. The IRA retains the ability to conduct operations. Its traditional activities have included bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, punishment beatings, extortion, smuggling, and robberies. Bombing campaigns were conducted against train and subway stations and shopping areas on mainland Britain. Targets included senior British government officials, civilians, police, and British military targets in Northern Ireland.

The IRA has, at a minimum, several hundred members, plus several thousand sympathizersdespite the possible defection of some members to the Real IRA (RIRA). The IRA operates in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain, and Europe. During its history, the IRA has received aid from a variety of groups and countries and considerable training and arms from Libya and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The IRA is suspected of receiving funds, arms, and other terrorist related materiel from sympathizers in the United States.

FURTHER READING:

ELECTRONIC:

CDI (Center for Defense Information) Terrorism Project. CDI Fact Sheet: Current List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. March 27, 2003. <http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/terrorist.cfm> (April 17, 2003).

Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook, 2002. <http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/> (April 16, 2003).

Taylor, Francis X. U.S. Department of State. "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001." Annual Report: On the Record Briefing. May 21, 2002 <http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/rm/10367.htm> (April 17, 2003).

U.S. Department of State. Annual reports. <http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/annual_reports.html> (April 16, 2003).

SEE ALSO

Terrorism, Philosophical and Ideological Origins
Terrorist and Para-State Organizations
Terrorist Organization List, United States
Terrorist Organizations, Freezing of Assets

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Irish Republican Army

Irish Republican Army (IRA). The Irish Volunteers, formed in 1913/14 and reorganized along conventional military command lines after the Easter Rising, became known as the IRA from 1919. During the Anglo-Irish War, 1919–21, it became the dominant military arm of the Dáil government, and fought a limited successful guerrilla war until stalemate was acknowledged by the truce of July 1921. Divided over the Anglo-Irish treaty of December 1921, the minority formed the Provisional Government/Free State Army, while the majority armed against the new state in the civil war 1922–3. Guerrilla warfare tactics were then less successful, and defeat was implicit in the cease-fire of April 1923. The raison d'être of the organization remained because of partition and the allegiance to the British crown. For four decades, the IRA was undecided whether to concentrate on a campaign against the border, or against British and Free State/Republic government, or to focus on social and economic issues. It waged an unsuccessful border campaign 1956–61, and shifted into being a Marxist pressure group. The outbreak of violence in Derry and Belfast from 1969 found the movement wanting in its traditional protective role for the catholic minority: graffiti claimed IRA stood for ‘I ran away’. A split occurred between the Belfast-based traditional nationalist Provisional IRA and the Marxist Official IRA, with the latter shrinking and splintering into smaller republican organizations. The Provisional IRA waged a high-profile terror campaign, which was instrumental in the collapse of Stormont in 1972 and in power-sharing initiatives, but it lost support and momentum as a result of an unsuccessful truce 1974/5, though continuing operations in the province and in Britain. Gaining considerable support from the hunger strike crisis of 1981, the movement adopted a more political strategy with Sinn Fein's Armalite and ballot policy. The decision of the IRA to agree to a cease-fire in the 1990s led to the ‘Real’ IRA taking over the mantle of violence. A Northern Ireland Assembly was established and Sinn Fein ministers appointed, but the reluctance of the IRA to begin serious decommissioning of arms led to the dissolution of the Assembly in 2003.

Michael Hopkinson

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"Irish Republican Army." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Irish Republican Army

Irish Republican Army (IRA) Guerrilla organization dedicated to the reunification of Ireland. Formed in 1919, the IRA waged guerrilla warfare against British rule. Some members (‘irregulars’) rejected the Anglo-Irish settlement of 1921, fighting a civil war until 1923. In 1970, the organization split into an ‘Official’ wing (which emphasized political activities), and a ‘Provisional’ wing (committed to armed struggle). Thereafter, the Provisional IRA became committed to terrorist acts in Northern Ireland and mainland Britain. It declared a cease-fire in 1994, but in 1996 resumed its campaign. Another cease-fire was declared in 1997. The timing of the decommissioning of IRA weapons is a major issue in the peace process.

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IRA

IRA abbreviation for the Irish Republican Army, the military arm of Sinn Fein, aiming for union between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The IRA was formed during the struggle for independence from Britain in 1916–21.

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IRA

IRA Abbreviation of Irish Republican Army

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