The conflict began in the late 1960s and is usually deemed to have ended with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. ( Log Out /  Email. The dead included around 1,100 members of the British security forces, and about 630 civilians. [37] Several splinter groups have been formed as a result of splits within the IRA, including the Continuity IRA and the Real IRA, both of which are still active in the dissident Irish republican campaign. [202] According to Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, it was Seán Mac Stiofáin, as chief of staff of the IRA, who invented the name. The IRA also targeted certain British government officials, politicians, judges, establishment figures, British Army and police officers in England, and in other areas such as the Republic of Ireland, West Germany and the Netherlands. The policy was outlined in a 1975 British strategy paper titled “The Way Ahead”, which was not published but was referred to by Labour’s first Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Merlyn Rees, and came to be the dominant British political theme in the conflict as it raged into the 1980s. One particular example of the killing of a person deemed by the IRA to have been an informer that is the source of continuing controversy is that of Jean McConville from Belfast, who was killed by the IRA. In recent years, there have been some high profile allegations of senior IRA figures having been British informers. [34][35] This new IRA group is estimated by Police Service of Northern Ireland intelligence sources to have between 250 and 300 active militants and many more supporting associates.[36]. [107] Unlike loyalists, the IRA denied responsibility for sectarian attacks and the members involved used covernames, such as Republican Action Force. [238] The mortars were often self-made and developed by the IRA's engineering department. A republican document of the early 1980s states, “Both Sinn Féin and the IRA play different but converging roles in the war of national liberation. In addition to bombings and occasional gun attacks in England, the IRA also used hoax, In addition to the scheduled General Army Conventions, the Executive, by a, Delegates might spend over a day travelling to the General Army Convention, due to the elaborate security and, The Executive and Army Council elected in September 1970 remained in place until 1986, filling vacancies by, Prior to May 1972 IRA volunteers in the Republic of Ireland were tried in normal courts. Over 3,600 people were killed and thousands more injured. [129] In late 1972 and early 1973 the IRA's leadership was being depleted by arrests on both sides of the Irish border, with Seán Mac Stíofáin, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and Martin McGuinness all imprisoned for IRA membership. [211] This was not the first time that an organisation calling itself the IRA had issued orders to dump arms. [352] Although the IRA did not specifically target these people because of their religious affiliation, more Protestants joined the security forces so many people from that community believed the attacks were sectarian. [70], The IRA split into "Provisional" and "Official" factions in December 1969,[24] after an IRA convention was held at Knockvicar House in Boyle, County Roscommon. Where a confession was solicited, the victim was often exiled or executed with a bullet in the back of the head. [310][311][312] The IRA has also been described as a "private army". [173] The speech was given in London the following month, with Peter Brooke stating that the British government would not give in to violence but offering significant political change if violence stopped, ending his statement by saying: The British government has no selfish, strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland: Our role is to help, enable and encourage  ... Partition is an acknowledgement of reality, not an assertion of national self-interest. 1981 hunger strikes and electoral politics, Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, Conflict with other republican paramilitaries, Provisional IRA campaign 1969-1997#Casualties, Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, 1993 Local District Council Elections in Northern Ireland, Support from other countries and organisations, Statistical breakdown of deaths in the Troubles of Northern Ireland 1969 – 2001, Irish National Liberation Army ( I.N.L.A ), Irish Republican Army. [229], In the early days of the Troubles the IRA was poorly armed, in Derry in early 1972 the IRA's weaponry consisted of six M1 carbines, two Thompson submachine guns, one or two M1 Garand rifles, and a variety of handguns. [149] Harold Wilson‘s secret 1971 meeting with IRA leaders with the help of John O’Connell angered the Irish government; Garret FitzGerald wrote 30 years later that “the strength of the feelings of our democratic leaders … was not, however, publicly ventilated at the time” because Wilson was a former and possible future British prime minister. [56] In the mid-1960s tension between the Catholic and Protestant communities was increasing. [134], IRA execute suspected informer | South Armagh | 20th July 1991. [121], According to several sources, the organisation has also been involved in the Irish drugs trade. [201], Following the May 1997 United Kingdom general election John Major was replaced as prime minister by Tony Blair of the Labour Party. [186] In January 1994 The IRA's Army Council voted to reject the declaration, while Sinn Féin asked the British government to clarify certain aspects of the declaration. They re-instated the ceasefire in July 1997, and it has been in operation since then.[95]. General de Chastelain has also stated weapons might have been lost due to a person responsible for them having died. Our community welcomes everyone from around the world to discuss world history, historical periods, and themes in history - military history, archaeology, arts and culture, and history in books and movies. It is claimed that up to 20 masked men, some armed with handguns, attacked a group of teenagers who were engaging in anti-social behaviour at an interface area. [236] The IRA also manufactured a series of improvised mortars, which by the 1990s were on a level comparable to military models. [171] The IRA has received some training and support from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The success of the 1981 Irish hunger strike in mobilising support and winning elections led to the Armalite and ballot box strategy, with more time and resources devoted to political activity. Getting there. [203] The IRA began decommissioning in a process that was monitored by Canadian General John de Chastelain's Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD),[204] with some weapons being decommissioned on 23 October 2001 and 8 April 2002. [8] Tommy McKearney states that while the IRA's goal was a socialist republic, there was no coherent analysis or understanding of socialism itself, other than an idea that the details would be worked out following an IRA victory. 1982 An INLA bomb kills 17 people at a disco in Derry. [163][164] The Chelsea Barracks bombing in London in October 1981 killed two civilians; a week later the IRA struck again in London by an assassination attempt on Steuart Pringle, the Commandant General Royal Marines. O’Neill” was used during the 1940s. [19][20], In the United States in November 1982, five men were acquitted of smuggling arms to the IRA after they claimed the Central Intelligence Agency had approved the shipment, although the CIA denied this. [28] The IRA initially focused on defence of Catholic areas, but it began an offensive campaign in 1970,[29][30] using guerrilla tactics against the British Army and RUC in both rural and urban areas. [120] In May 2009, two men were arrested in Cork, and charged with IRA membership and offences relating to the robbery. [131] Therefore, the community would turn to the IRA first to deal with troublemakers or those practising what came to be called “anti-social behaviour”. [301] Members felt that an Irish version of the Tet Offensive could possibly be the key to victory against the British, pending on the arrival of weapons secured from Libya. [419] RAAD, "the IRA", and some smaller groups merged with the Real IRA in 2012 to form the New IRA. [163], In the early to mid-1970s, the numbers recruited by the IRA may have reached several thousand, but these were reduced when the IRA re-organised its structures from 1977 onwards. On 16 December 2005, senior Sinn Féin member Denis Donaldson appeared before TV cameras in Dublin and confessed to being a British spy for twenty years. ), while between 510[145] and 640[27] were civilians. [341] In 2001, three Irishmen, known as the Colombia Three, were arrested and accused training Colombian guerrillas, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). [227] However, he added that some members have engaged in criminal activity or violence for their own ends. Despite the IRA’s commitment to this cause, relative peace was maintained until the late 1960s. [67] By the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was estimated that in the late 1980s the IRA had roughly 300 members in ASUs and about another 450 serving in supporting roles. The Northern Ireland Government was dominated by the Unionist party and as a part of the United Kingdom anti-Catholic laws that had been passed in the nineteenth century were still in force. Members of the IRA suspected of being informants were usually executed after an IRA court-martial. [55] In 1966 Ireland celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising, prompting fears of a renewed IRA campaign. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. [373], Throughout the Troubles, some members of the IRA passed information to the security forces. [14][241] Other targets included British government officials, politicians, establishment and judicial figures, and senior British Army and police officers. [350], Protestants in the rural border areas of counties Fermanagh and Tyrone, where the number of members of the security forces killed was high, viewed the IRA's campaign as ethnic cleansing. [187] The British government replied saying the declaration spoke for itself, and refused to meet with Sinn Féin unless the IRA called a ceasefire. The office of IICD chairman John de Chastelain, a retired Canadian general who oversaw the weapons’ decommissioning at secret locations, released details regarding the scrapping of many tons of IRA weaponry at a news conference in Belfast on 26 September. [39][40] In addition 275–300 members of the IRA were killed during the campaign. [356] Supporters argue that as the IRA was a clandestine organisation it was forced to use extralegal methods of fundraising, which were justified in order to achieve a political goal. [68][69] On 24 August a group including Joe Cahill, Seamus Twomey, Dáithí Ó Conaill, Billy McKee, and Jimmy Steele came together in Belfast and decided to remove the pro-Goulding Belfast leadership of Billy McMillen and Jim Sullivan and turn back to traditional militant republicanism. In 1973 it was accused of providing explosives for the assassination of Luis Carrero Blanco in Madrid. He said the arms had been “put beyond use” and that they were “satisfied that the arms decommissioned represent the totality of the IRA’s arsenal.”, The IRA permitted two independent witnesses, including a Methodist minister, Rev. The bombing campaign principally targeted political, economic and military targets, and approximately 60 civilians were killed by the IRA in England during the conflict. [108][110] Twenty-two people were killed in the next three days, including six civilians killed by the British Army in the Ballymurphy massacre on 9 August,[109][111] and in Belfast 7,000 Catholics and 2,000 Protestants were forced from their homes by the rioting. Rioting follows in Northern Ireland and Dublin. On 28 July 2005, the IRA Army Council announced an end to its armed campaign, stating that it would work to achieve its aims using “purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means”,[30] and shortly afterwards completed decommissioning. [379][380] During the 1975 ceasefire incident centres were set up across Northern Ireland, staffed by Sinn Féin members who dealt with incidents that might endanger the truce. [n 13][175], The IRA responded to Brooke's speech by declaring a three-day ceasefire over Christmas, the first in fifteen years. According to journalist Brendan O’Brien, “the thinking was that the war would be short and successful. The IRA initially believed that this was the start of a long-term process of British withdrawal, but later came to the conclusion that Rees was trying to bring them into peaceful politics without offering them any guarantees. Libya has been the biggest single supplier of arms and funds to the IRA, donating large amounts: three shipments of arms in the early 1970s and another three in the mid-1980s, the latter reputedly enough to arm two regular infantry battalions. The British refused and the talks broke up. [25][26] The Troubles had begun shortly before when a largely Catholic, nonviolent civil rights campaign was met with violence from both Ulster loyalists and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),[27] culminating in the August 1969 riots and deployment of British troops. [40] Most of the remainder were loyalist or republican paramilitary members; including over 100 IRA members accidentally killed by their own bombs or shot for being security force agents or informers. Before 1969, GACs met regularly. [212] After its defeat in the Irish Civil War in 1923 and at the end of the unsuccessful Border campaign in 1962, the IRA issued similar orders. In Northern Ireland, the IRA are referred to as terrorists by the Ulster Unionist Party, the Democratic Unionist Party, the Progressive Unionist Party, the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland,[151] and the Social Democratic and Labour Party. Also known internationally as the Northern Ireland conflict, it is sometimes described as an "irregular war" or "low-level war". IRA, purely sectarian, calculated slaughter of Protestants at Kingsmill, The IRA publicly condemned sectarianism and sectarian attacks. [128] This was made possible by a feeling of mistrust by some members of the community against the police force and army. The body was either buried or, later in the IRA campaign, left in a public place, often in South Armagh. [354] However, this activity allowed the British government to portray the IRA as no more than a criminal gang. [64] Volunteers based in Donegal were a part of the Derry Brigade as well. [199][200][201], The IRA traditionally uses a well-known signature in its public statements, which are all issued under the pseudonym of “P. $157.98 per adult. At the top of the organisation was the IRA Army Council, headed by the IRA Chief of Staff. Thereafter, the IRA evolved a new strategy which they called the “Long War”. Also, the RUC and other forces of the authorities were, in some instances, reluctant to enter or patrol certain Nationalist areas unless it was in armoured Land Rovers and in convoy. [44] However, there was not a walkout. It is finished”.[191]. [109] By the late 1970s the IRA had restructured the organisation,[322] with the British Army estimating the IRA had 500 full-time volunteers. [347] They stated that their attacks on Protestants were retaliation for attacks on Catholics. [337] The IRA received support from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the 1970s, attending training camps in the Middle East. [50], The Sinn Féin party split along the same lines on 11 January 1970, when a third of the delegates walked out of the Ard Fheis in protest at the party leadership’s attempt to force through the ending of abstentionism, despite its failure to achieve a two-thirds majority vote of delegates required to change the policy. For a detailed breakdown of casualties caused by and inflicted on the IRA see Provisional IRA campaign 1969-1997#Casualties. Website +44 28 9024 0504. [n 7][92] The IRA adopted the phoenix as the symbol of the Irish republican rebirth in 1969, one of its slogans was "out of the ashes rose the Provisionals", representing the IRA's resurrection from the ashes of burnt-out Catholic areas of Belfast. Danny Morrison summed up this policy at a 1981 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis (annual meeting) as a “ballot paper in this hand and an Armalite in the other”. Among the weaponry estimated (by Jane’s Information Group) to have been destroyed as part of this process were: A “Sniper at Work” sign in Crossmaglen. [257] Two detailed studies of deaths in the Troubles, the Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN), and the book Lost Lives, differ slightly on the numbers killed by the IRA and the total number of conflict deaths. By defending the war of liberation by punishing criminals, This page was last edited on 13 December 2020, at 07:39. Change ). [378] The incident centres were seen by locals as "IRA police stations" and gave some legitimacy to the IRA as a policing force. [233][234] The IRA also used a variety of bombs during its armed campaign, such as car and truck bombs, time bombs, and booby traps,[235] using explosives including ANFO, gelignite, and the plastic explosive Semtex. The Gardaí believe this Semtex to have come from the Libyan connection back in the 1980s and therefore should have been decommissioned.[103][104][105]. Following a convention in September 1970 the "Provisional" Army Council announced that the provisional period had finished, but the name stuck. In Kitson’s view, the violence of the IRA represented an “insurrection” situation, with the enveloping atmosphere of belligerence representing a “low intensity conflict” – a conflict where the forces involved in fighting operate at a greatly reduced tempo, with fewer combatants, at a reduced range of tactical equipment and limited scope to operate in a military manner. [113], The IRA have allegedly been involved in criminal activities, including racketeering, bank robbery, fuel laundering, drug dealing and kidnapping. More info. [202] After the IRA declared a new ceasefire in July 1997, Sinn Féin was admitted into multi-party talks, which produced the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998. While others canvassed support throughout Ireland, Mac Stíofáin was a key person making a connection with the Belfast IRA under Billy McKee and Joe Cahill, who had refused to take orders from the IRA’s Dublin leadership since September 1969, in protest at their failure to defend Catholic areas in August. The process which the IRA went through to determine an offender’s “guilt” or “innocence” was never open to debate or scrutiny. [280] Its main responsibilities were support activities for Northern Command, such as importation and storage of arms, providing safe houses, raising funds through robberies, and organising training camps. The abortive attempt at an escalation of the military part of that strategy led republican leaders increasingly to look for a political compromise to end the conflict, with a broadening dissociation of Sinn Féin from the IRA. Britain Resumes Direct Rule Of Northern Ireland On Oct. 14, the British government again assumed direct rule of Northern Ireland, after the Unionists threatened to quit the Assembly in protest of suspected spying activity by the IRA. [53][54] Protestants were given preference in jobs and housing, and local government constituencies were gerrymandered in places such as Derry. 100 of these, stolen from the Norwegian police, finished up with the IRA. The IRA was responsible for more deaths than any other organisation during the Troubles. From the late 1960s, the world watched in despair as Northern Ireland unravelled into unrest and violence. The Provisional IRA was originally commanded by a leadership based in Dublin. In July 1972, Seán Mac Stíofáin, Dáithí Ó Conaill, Ivor Bell, Seamus Twomey, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness met a British delegation led by William Whitelaw. [161], A process called “Criminalisation” was begun in the mid-1970s as part of a British strategy of “Criminalisation, Ulsterisation, and Normalisation”. [388] In December 2005, Sinn Féin member and former IRA volunteer Denis Donaldson appeared at a press conference in Dublin and confessed to being a British spy since the early 1980s. [164], According to the book The Provisional IRA (by Eamon Mallie and Patrick Bishop), roughly 8,000 people passed through the ranks of the IRA in the first 20 years of its existence, many of them leaving after arrest, “retirement” or disillusionment. [100][101][102], In mid-July 2013, the Gardaí displayed arms and explosives (Semtex) recently recovered from dissident republicans in the Dublin area. When the resolution failed to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority to change Sinn Féin policy the leadership announced a resolution recognising the "Official" Army Council, which would only require a, The provisional period for "Provisional" Sinn Féin ended at an ard fheis in October 1970, when the Caretaker Executive was dissolved and an, The IRA also used "forties men" for volunteers such as, In the early 1970s insurance companies cancelled. This underpinned IRA strategy for the rest of the Troubles and involved the re-organisation of the IRA into small cells, an acceptance that their campaign would last many years before being successful and an increased emphasis on political activity through Sinn Féin. The IRA embraced, facilitated and supported the peace process. The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA or PIRA) was[5][6][7][8] an Irish republican paramilitary organisation that sought to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about an independent republic encompassing all of Ireland. [69], Following the violence of August 1969, the IRA began to arm and train to protect nationalist areas from further attack. [299] Similarly, the Northern Ireland left-wing politician Eamonn McCann has remarked that the Provisional IRA was considered a non-socialist IRA compared to the Official IRA. [323] A 1978 British Army report by Brigadier James Glover stated that the restructured IRA did not require the same number of volunteers as the early 1970s, and that a small number of volunteers could "maintain a disproportionate level of violence". Founded in 2006, Historum is a history forum dedicated to history discussions and historical events. The IRA called a final ceasefire in July 1997, when Sinn Féin were re-admitted into the Northern Ireland peace talks. [99][100] In October 1970 the IRA began a bombing campaign against economic targets, by the end of the year there had been 153 explosions. These were essential support activities. [211] The IRA also stated it would complete the process of disarmament as quickly as possible. A 1999 report by John Horgan and Max Taylor cited Royal Ulster Constabulary reports, alleging that this involves the “licensing” of drug operations to criminal gangs and the payment of protection money, rather than direct involvement. This activity culminated in the 1981 Irish hunger strike, when seven IRA and three Irish National Liberation Army members starved themselves to death in pursuit of political status. [citation needed], In May 1996, the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s internal security service, publicly accused Estonia of arms smuggling, and claimed that the IRA had contacted representatives of Estonia’s volunteer defence force, Kaitseliit, and some non-government groups to buy weapons. [170] Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was in contact with Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader John Hume and a delegation representing the Irish government, in order to find political alternatives to the IRA's campaign. [31][32] The organisation remains classified as a proscribed terrorist group in the UK and as an illegal organisation in the Republic of Ireland. ( Log Out /  To make the Six Counties… ungovernable except by colonial military rule. [184] Some authors, like Patrick McCarthy, Peter Taylor and Brendan O’Brien concluded that, unlike previous IRA campaigns, the provisionals were not defeated. This vacuum in policing was functional for the IRA because it stopped the local community being in contact with the police which may have posed a threat if information was passed. The IRA Border Campaign in the 1950s had avoided actions in urban centres of Northern Ireland to avoid civilian casualties and resulting sectarian violence. [131][122], Following an IRA ceasefire over the Christmas period in 1974 and a further one in January 1975, on 8 February the IRA issued a statement suspending "offensive military action" from six o'clock the following day. [200] In February 1997 an IRA sniper team from the South Armagh Brigade killed Lance Bombadier Stephen Restorick, the last British soldier to be killed by the IRA. [145][148] As result of the withdrawal of Special Category Status, in September 1976 IRA prisoner Kieran Nugent began the blanket protest in the Maze Prison, when hundreds of prisoners refused to wear prison uniforms.[149][150]. The conflict in Northern Ireland during the late 20th century is known as the Troubles. This descent into violence precipitated the need for armed forces on both sides. [5][6][240] The IRA's offensive campaign mainly targeted the British Army (including the UDR) and the RUC, with British soldiers being the IRA's preferred target. [91][92] These people became known as "sixty niners", having joined after 1969. [98] Loyalist paramilitaries, including the UVF, carried out campaigns aimed at thwarting the IRA's aspirations and maintaining the political union with Britain. [136] In March 2014, Ivor Bell – former IRA Chief of Staff – was arrested and charged with aiding and abetting in the murder of Jean McConville. On 26 July 2012, it was announced that some former members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army were merging with the Real Irish Republican Army, other independent republican paramilitary groups and the vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs (but, notably, not with the Continuity Irish Republican Army) into a unified formation known simply as the “Irish Republican Army”. [344], The IRA publicly condemned sectarianism and sectarian attacks, however some IRA members did carry out sectarian attacks. Both reject the Good Friday Agreement and continue to engage in paramilitary activity. Apart from the Libyan aid, this has been the main source of overseas IRA support. Thanks for taking the time to read my story and visiting my world. [162] In the United Kingdom a person convicted of membership of a “proscribed organisation”, such as the IRA, still nominally faces imprisonment for up to 10 years. Sinn Féin denied the IRA were involved. These Brigades were located in Armagh, Belfast, Derry, Donegal and Tyrone/Monaghan. [181], In December 2013 the report of the Smithwick Tribunal concluded that “on the balance of probability” collusion took place between the IRA and members of the Garda Síochána in the 1989 killing of two RUC officers; however, the report could not conclusively prove this.[182]. [227] In response, the British government commissioned the Assessment on Paramilitary Groups in Northern Ireland, which concluded in October 2015 that the IRA, while committed to peace, continued to exist in a reduced form. [379][380] It was agreed that the IRA would be responsible for policing there, but the agreement was short-lived. This saw them conduct a war of attrition against the British and increase emphasis on political activity, via the political party Sinn Féin.[24]. [50] Chief-of-staff Cathal Goulding wanted the IRA to adopt a socialist agenda and become involved in politics, while traditional republicans such as Seán Mac Stíofáin wanted to increase recruitment and rebuild the IRA. All levels of the organisation were entitled to send delegates to IRA General Army Conventions (GACs). [138][139] By July the Army Council was concerned at the progress of the talks, concluding there was no prospect of a lasting peace without a public declaration by the British government of their intent to withdraw from Ireland. The IRA gained much of its support from these activities, as they were widely perceived within the nationalist community as being defenders of Irish nationalist and Roman Catholic people against aggression. After the ceasefire was reinstated in July 1997, Sinn Féin was admitted into all-party talks, which produced the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. 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