Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army (IRA) is any of several paramilitary
Ireland in the 20th and 21st centuries dedicated to Irish
republicanism, the belief that all of
Ireland should be an independent
republic. It was also characterised by the belief that political
violence was necessary to achieve that goal.
The first known use of the term "Irish Republican Army" occurred in
Fenian raids on many British landmarks, towns, and forts in the
late 1700s and 1860s. The original
Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army formed in
1917 from those
Irish Volunteers who did not enlist in the British
Army during World War I, members of the
Irish Citizen Army
Irish Citizen Army and
others. Irishmen formerly in the British Army
Ireland and fought in the Irish War of Independence.
Irish War of Independence
Irish War of Independence it was the army of the Irish
Republic, declared by
Dáil Éireann in 1919. Some Irish people
dispute the claims of more recently created organisations that insist
that they are the only legitimate descendants of the original IRA,
often referred to as the "Old IRA". The playwright and former IRA
Brendan Behan once said that the first issue on any Irish
organisation's agenda was "the split". For the IRA, that has often
been the case. The first split came after the
Anglo-Irish Treaty in
1921, with supporters of the Treaty forming the nucleus of the
National Army of the newly created Irish Free State, while the
anti-treaty forces continued to use the name Irish Republican Army.
After the end of the
Irish Civil War
Irish Civil War (1922-23), the IRA was around in
one form or another for forty years, when it split into the Official
IRA and the Provisional IRA in 1969. The latter then had its own
breakaways, namely the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA, each claiming
to be the true successor of the Army of the Irish Republic.
Irish Republican Army (1917–22)
Irish Republican Army (1917–22) (in later years, known as the
"Old" IRA), recognised by the
First Dáil as the legitimate army of
Irish Republic in April 1921, split into pro-Treaty forces (the
National Army, also known as the Government forces or the Regulars)
and anti-Treaty forces (the Republicans, Irregulars or Executive
forces) after the Treaty.
Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army (1922–69), the anti-treaty IRA which
fought and lost the civil war and which thereafter refused to
recognise either the
Irish Free State
Irish Free State or Northern Ireland, deeming
them both to be creations of British imperialism. It existed in one
form or another for over 40 years before splitting in 1969.
The Official IRA (OIRA), the remainder of the IRA after the 1969 split
with the Provisionals; was primarily Marxist in its political
orientation. It is now inactive in the military sense, while its
political wing, Official Sinn Féin, became the Workers' Party of
The Provisional IRA (PIRA) broke from the OIRA in 1969 over
abstentionism and how to deal with the increasing violence in Northern
Ireland. Although opposed to the OIRA's Marxism, it came to develop a
left-wing orientation and increasing political activity.
The Continuity IRA (CIRA), broke from the PIRA in 1986, because the
latter ended its policy on abstentionism (thus recognising the
authority of the Republic of Ireland).
The Real IRA (RIRA), a 1997 breakaway from the PIRA consisting of
members opposed to the Northern
Ireland peace process.
In April 2011, former members of the Provisional IRA announced a
resumption of hostilities, and that "they had now taken on the mantle
of the mainstream IRA." They further claimed "We continue to do so
under the name of the Irish Republican Army. We are the IRA." and
insisted that they "were entirely separate from the Real IRA, Óglaigh
na hÉireann (ONH), and the Continuity IRA." They claimed
responsibility for the April murder of PSNI constable Ronan Kerr as
well as responsibility for other attacks that had previously been
claimed by the Real IRA and ONH.
1 Relation between the IRA and PLO
2 Genealogy of the IRA and its splits
3 See also
Relation between the IRA and PLO
There was contact between the IRA and the Palestine Liberation
Organization (PLO) and specifically the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) starting from the mid-1970s which
included the intensive training of IRA volunteers. At one stage, the
PLO offered weapons as well as training to the IRA, but they declined
on the grounds that it was impossible to smuggle arms out of the
Levant in general, and Palestine in particular, without alerting
Israeli intelligence. Tim Pat Coogan wrote that assistance from the
PLO largely dried up in the late-1980s after the PLO had forged
stronger links with the government of the Republic of
Genealogy of the IRA and its splits
This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this
section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material
may be challenged and removed. (December 2008) (Learn how and when to
remove this template message)
Here in more detail is a representation of a genealogical tree of
Irish nationalist movements derived from the original IRA:
Original IRA (the "old" IRA) – fought in the War of Independence
That part of the IRA that accepted the compromise of the 1921 treaty
which established the
Irish Free State
Irish Free State and that became the initial
Free State government. Its supporters became the modern-day Fine Gael
Party, currently the largest party in the Republic of Ireland. With
additional recruits, it became the National Army, later known as the
Irish Defence Forces
That part of the original IRA organised within Northern
included within the Free State (see below).
That part of the IRA, organised within the twenty-six counties that
became the Free State, which rejected the compromise of the 1921
treaty with Britain and under Liam Lynch fought the Irish Civil War
against the Free State's National Army (led by Michael Collins), with
the support of the anti-treaty faction of Sinn Féin, led by Éamon de
Some years after losing the Civil War a faction led by de Valera
Sinn Féin and established the
Fianna Fáil party in
1926, which is currently the second-largest party in Ireland. (In
Fianna Fáil was officially registered as a political
party in Northern Ireland.)
In the 1930s, the remainder of the IRA including that part of the Old
IRA organised within Northern Ireland, attempted a bombing campaign in
Britain, a campaign in Northern
Ireland (after a change in leadership
to the north) and some military activities in the Free State (later
the Republic of Ireland). After a period of poor relations, the
symbiotic relationship between
Sinn Féin and the IRA was
re-established in the late 1930s.
By the 1960s, after the failed border campaign,
Sinn Féin moved
towards a Marxist class struggle outlook. With the outbreak of the
Troubles, Sinn Féin, or as it came to be called after the formation
of the Provisional IRA and Provisional Sinn Féin, Official IRA /
Sinn Féin found itself sidelined because of its decision not
to engage the British state militarily. Over time the Official IRA
faded away, while Official
Sinn Féin moved to a purely Marxist
position, renaming itself first
Sinn Féin the Workers Party, and then
in 1982 the Workers' Party of Ireland.
After the Official IRA's 1972 ceasefire, it and Official Sinn Féin
suffered a split in 1974 leading to the formation of the far left
Irish National Liberation Army
Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) and Irish Republican Socialist
Party, led by
Seamus Costello (later assassinated by the Official IRA
during a bloody feud). The INLA was known for a series of internal
feuds and some of the more sectarian killings by Irish nationalist.
In 1986, the
Irish People's Liberation Organisation split from the
In 1992, the Workers' Party suffered a split when a majority faction
failed to secure changes. They left and formed the Democratic Left.
Ultimately, the Democratic Left merged into the Labour Party.
In 1969, the more traditionalist republican members split off into the
Provisional IRA and Sinn Féin. The Provisional IRA operated mostly in
Northern Ireland, using violence against the Royal Ulster Constabulary
and the British Army, and British institutions and economic targets.
They also killed members of the Irish Army and the Garda Síochána
(the Republic's police force), which was against one of their standing
A further split occurred in 1986, when the former leader of Sinn Féin
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh – who was replaced by
Gerry Adams in 1983 –
walked out of the
Sinn Féin Ard Fheis after delegates voted to end
the policy of abstentionism to Dáil Éireann. The followers of
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, who adhere to republican legitimatism, and
opposing Sinn Féin's decision to abandon abstentionism, set up a
rival party and military wing, called Republican
Sinn Féin and the
In 2006, the
Irish Republican Liberation Army and the Óglaigh na
hÉireann split from the Continuity IRA.
In 1997, Members of the Provisional IRA who did not accept the peace
process split off to form the Real IRA. Its political wing is the 32
County Sovereignty Movement.
Óglaigh na hÉireann split from the Real IRA.
In 2011, former members of the Provisional IRA according to the
Belfast Telegraph, announced a resumption of hostilities, under the
name "Irish Republican Army".
Physical force Irish republicanism
List of designated terrorist groups
^ For a diagrammatic version of this, see Genealogy of the Irish
^ "Origins of the IRA name". An Sionnach Fionn Blog. 27 September
^ "Primates' creative ambiguity averts schism". The Irish Times. 2
^ Suzanne Breen (22 April 2011). "Former Provos claim Kerr murder and
vow more attacks". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army (IRA) Irish military organization".
Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-09-04.
Cronin, Sean, The Ideology of the IRA (Ann Arbor 1972)
Hart, Peter, IRA at War 1916–1923 (Oxford 2003)
Hart, P, The IRA and its Enemies: Violence and Community in Cork
1916–1923 (Oxford 1998)
Joy, Sinead, The IRA in Kerry 1916–1921 (Cork 2005)
Liebknecht, Karl, Militarism and Anti-Militarism (1907); an English
translation (Cambridge 1973).
Martin, F.X., (ed.)
Irish Volunteers 1913–1915. Recollections and
Documents (Dublin 1963)
O'Ruairc, Padraig Og, Blood on the Banner: The Republican Struggle in
Clare 1913–1923 (Cork 2009)
Ryan, Meda, Tom Barry: IRA Freedom Fighter (Cork 2005)
Townshend, Charles, 'The
Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army and the Development of
Guerrilla Warfare 1916–21', English Historical Review 94 (1971),
W?, With the IRA in the Fight For Freedom (London 1968)
This article includes a list of related items that share the same name
(or similar names).
If an internal link incorrectly led you here, you may wish to change
the link to point directly to the