Provisional Irish Republican Army

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The Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA; more commonly referred to as the IRA, the Provos, or by some of its supporters as the Army or the 'RA) is an Irish Republican paramilitary organisation which, until the Belfast Agreement, sought to end Northern Ireland's status within the United Kingdom and bring about a United Ireland by the use of violence. Since its emergence in 1969, its stated aim has been the overthrow of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and their replacement by a sovereign socialist all-island Irish state.<ref>Éire Nua policy statement.</ref>

The organisation has been outlawed and classified as a terrorist group in the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and many other countries.

The IRA sees itself as a continuation of the Irish Republican Army (the army of the Irish Republic — 1919-1922) which fought in the Irish War of Independence.

On July 28, 2005, the Provisional 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" and that "IRA Volunteers must not engage in any other activities whatsoever".

Like all other organisations calling themselves the IRA (see List of IRAs), the Provisionals refer to themselves in public announcements and internal discussions as Óglaigh na hÉireann (literally "Volunteers of Ireland"), the official Irish language title of the Irish Defence Forces (the Irish army).


[edit] Origins

[edit] 1969 split in the IRA

According to modern Physical force Irish republicanism theory, the two Irish governmental entities which have existed in Ireland since 1922, Northern Ireland and the state variously known at different times as the Irish Free State and the Republic of Ireland, were illegitimate, as they had been imposed by the British at the time of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, in defiance of the last all-Ireland election in 1918, when the majority had voted for full independence. The real Irish state was the UDI Irish Republic declared in 1919 and which, according to republican theory, was still in existence. According to this theory, the modern day Irish Republican Army is merely the continuation of the original Irish Republican Army which served as the army of the Irish Republic during the Irish War of Independence.

While at the time of Treaty and subsequent Irish Civil War the majority of the IRA held this position, by the 1930s most republicans had accepted the Free State and were willing to work within it - recognising the Irish Army as the state's armed force. However, a minority of republicans argued that the army of the Republic was still the pre-1969 Irish Republican Army, itself the lineal descendant of the defeated faction in the Irish Civil War of 1922-23. Moreover, the IRA Army Council was the legitimate government of Ireland until the Irish Republic could be re-established. This IRA in theory wanted to overthrow both Irish states, but by the late 1940s, it issued orders that "no armed action was to be taken against 26 county forces under any circumstances whatsoever". From then on, they concentrated on the overthrow of Northern Ireland, which was still part of the United Kingdom, but which contained a substantial Catholic and nationalist population. In the 1950s, the IRA waged a largely ineffective guerrilla campaign against Northern Ireland, known as the "Border Campaign". This was called off in 1962.

The IRA split into two groups at its Special Army Convention in December 1969, over the issue of abstentionism (whether to sit in, or "abstain" from the Dail or parliament of the Republic of Ireland) and over the question of how to respond to the escalating violence in Northern Ireland (see The Troubles). In 1969, serious rioting had broken out in Northern Ireland and hundreds of Catholic homes were destroyed in Belfast by loyalists in the Northern Ireland riots of August 1969. The IRA had not been armed or organised to defend the Catholic community, as it had done since the 1920s. The two groups that emerged from the split became known as the Official IRA (which espoused a Marxist analysis of Irish partition) and the Provisional IRA.

The Official IRA did not want to get involved in what it considered to be divisive sectarian violence, nor did it want to launch an armed campaign against Northern Ireland, citing the failure of the IRA's Border Campaign in the 1950s. They favoured building up a political base among the working class (Catholic and Protestant) north and south, which would eventually undermine partition. This involved recognising and sitting in elected bodies and north and south of the border. The Provisionals, on the other hand, advocated a robust armed defence of Catholics in the north and an offensive campaign against Northern Ireland to end British rule there. They also denounced the "communist" tendencies of the "Official" faction in favour of traditional Irish republicanism and they refused to recognise the legitimacy of either Northern or southern Irish states.

[edit] Foundation of the Provisional IRA

Dáithí Ó Conaill at the 1986 Sinn Fein Ard Fheis.

The founding date of the Provisional IRA is December 1969, when an IRA Army Council meeting voted to recognise the Parliaments of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. When this vote took place, Sean MacStiofain, present as IRA Director of Intelligence, announced that he no longer considered that the IRA leadership represented Republican goals and he was leaving with his supporters to found a new organisation.<ref>Mallie, Bishop p136 </ref>

MacStiofain's group joined up with most of 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 1969.<ref>Mallie, Bishop p141. Nine out of thirteen IRA units in Belfast sided with the Provisionals in 1969, roughly 120 activists and 500 supporters</ref> Provisional Sinn Fein, a political wing, was founded in February 1970.

There are allegations that the early Provisional IRA got off the ground due to arms and funding from the Fianna Fáil led Irish government in 1969. This was not found to be the case when investigated in the Arms trial. However, roughly £100,000 was donated by the Irish government to "Defence Committees" in Catholic areas and according to historian Richard English, "there is now no doubt that some money did go from the Dublin government to the proto-Provisionals"<ref>English, p119</ref>

The main figures in the early Provisional IRA were Seán Mac Stiofáin (who served as the organisation's first chief of staff), Ruairí Ó Brádaigh (the first president of Provisional Sinn Féin), Dáithí Ó Conaill, and Joe Cahill. All served on the first Provisional IRA Army Council. The Provisional appellation deliberately echoed the "Provisional Government" proclaimed during the 1916 Easter Rising.

The Provisionals maintained a number of the principles of the pre-1969 IRA. It considered British rule in Northern Ireland and the government of the Republic of Ireland to be illegitimate. Like the pre-1969 IRA, it believed that the IRA Army Council was the legitimate government of the all-island Irish Republic. This belief was based on a complicated series of perceived political inheritances which constructed a legal continuity from the Second Dáil. Most of these abstentionist principles were abandoned in 1986, although Sinn Féin still refuses to take its seats in the British parliament.

As the violence in Northern Ireland steadily escalated, both the Official IRA and Provisional IRA espoused military means to pursue their goals. Unlike the Officials, however, who characterised their violence as purely "defensive" the Provisionals called for a more aggressive campaign against the Northern Ireland state. While the Officials were initially, for a short period, the larger organisation and enjoyed more support from the republican constituency, the Provisionals came to dominate, especially after the Official IRA declared an indefinite ceasefire in 1972. The Provisionals inherited most of the existing IRA organisation in the north by 1971 and the more militant IRA members in the rest of Ireland. In addition they recruited many young nationalists from the north, who had not been involved in the IRA before, but had been radicalised by the communal violence that broke out in 1969. These people were known in republican parlance as "sixty niners" (having joined after 1969).

Although the Provisional IRA had a political wing (Provisional Sinn Féin, which split with Official Sinn Féin at the same time as the split in the IRA), the early Provisional IRA was extremely suspicious of political activity, arguing rather for the primacy of armed struggle.

[edit] Organisation

The IRA is organised hierarchically. It refers to its ordinary members as volunteers (or óglaigh in Irish). Up until the late 1970s, IRA volunteers were organised according to where they lived. Volunteers living in one area formed a company, which in turn was part of a battalion, which could be part of a brigade, although many battalions were not attached to a brigade. Belfast had three brigades (for the west, north and east ofthe city). Derry city had one brigade and South Derry another. The Derry Battalion became the Derry Brigade in 1972 after a rapid increase in membership. County Armagh had two brigades, one very active one in South Armagh and a less effective unit in North Armagh. East Tyrone also had their own brigades. Fermanagh, South Down, North Antrim had units not attached to Brigades.<ref>O'Brien page 161 </ref> The leadership structure at battalion and company level was the same: Each had its own commanding officer, quartermaster, explosives officer and intelligence officer. There was sometimes a training officer or finance officer.

In 1977, the IRA moved away from the purely geographical organisational principle owing to its perceived security vulnerability. In its place a system of two parallel types of unit was introduced. Firstly, the old "company" structures were used for tasks such as "policing" nationalist areas, intelligence gathering, and hiding weapons. These were essential support activities. However, the bulk of actual attacks were the responsibility of a second type of unit, the Active Service Unit. To improve security and operational capacity these Active Service Units (ASUs) were smaller, tight-knit cells for carrying out important attacks. The ASU's weapons were controlled by a quartermaster under the direct control of the IRA leadership.<ref>Bowyer Bell Page 437</ref>

The exception to this reorganisation was the Provisional IRA South Armagh Brigade which retained its traditional hierarchy and brigade status and used relatively large numbers of volunteers in its actions.

At a regional level, the IRA is divided into a Northern Command, which operates in Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic, and a Southern Command, which operates in the rest of Ireland. There are also organisational units in Great Britain and the United States. These moves at reorganisation were the idea of Ivor Bell.

All levels of the IRA are entitled to send delegates to IRA General Army Conventions (GACs). The GAC is the IRA's supreme decision-making authority. Before 1969, GACs met regularly. Since 1970 they have become less frequent, owing to the difficulty in organising such a large secret gathering of what is an illegal organisation.

The GAC in turn elects a 12-member IRA Executive, which in turn selects seven of its members to form the IRA Army Council. The seats vacated on the Executive are immediately refilled. For day-to-day purposes authority is vested in the Provisional Army Council (PAC) which, as well as directing policy and taking major tactical decisions, appoints a chief of staff from one of its number or, less commonly, from outside its ranks.

The chief of staff then appoints an adjutant general as well as a General Headquarters (GHQ), which consists of a number of individual departments. These departments are:

[edit] Strategy 1969-1998

Seán Mac Stíofáin - First Chief of Staff of the Provisional IRA

For the PIRA military campaign of these years see Provisional IRA campaign 1969-1997

[edit] "Escalation, escalation and escalation"

In the early years of the Troubles, the Provisional IRA's strategy was to use as much force as possible to cause the collapse of the Northern Ireland administration and to inflict enough casualties on the British forces that the British government would be forced by public opinion to withdraw from Ireland. A policy described by Sean MacStiofain as, "escalation, escalation and escalation". This was modelled on the success of the Irish Republican Army in the Irish War of Independence 1919-1922 and was articulated in slogans such "Victory 1972". However, this policy failed to take into account the strong unionist commitment to remain within the United Kingdom and the risk that an armed campaign would result not in a united Ireland, but in a sectarian civil war.

At the time of the Irish War of Independence in the 1920s, IRA actions in the north had been responded to with widespread attacks on Catholic nationalists by loyalists. The IRA Border campaign in the 1950s had avoided actions in urban centres of Northern Ireland to avoid provoking retaliatory attacks on the Catholic/Nationalist community there. The Provisional IRA determination to carry out such a campaign and risk escalating sectarian violence was one of the principle areas of disagreement between the Provisional and Official IRAs.

The British government held secret talks with the PIRA leadership in 1972 to try and secure a ceasefire based on a compromise settlement within Northern Ireland. The PIRA agreed to a temporary ceasefire from June 26 to the July 9. In July 1972, Provisional leaders Seán Mac Stíofáin, Dáithí Ó Conaill, Ivor Bell, Seamus Twomey, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness met a British delegation led by William Whitelaw. The IRA leaders refused to consider a peace settlement that did not include a commitment to British withdrawal, a retreat of the British Army to barracks and a release of republican prisoners. The British refused and the talks broke up.<ref>(Taylor p139)</ref>

[edit] Éire Nua and the 1975 ceasefire

The Provisionals' ultimate goal in this period was the abolition of both the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland states and their replacement with a new all-Ireland federal republic, with decentralised governments and parliaments for each of the four Irish historic provinces. This programme was known as Éire Nua - "New Ireland". The Éire Nua programme was discarded by the Provisionals under the leadership of Gerry Adams in the early 1980s in favour of the pursuit of a new unitary all-Ireland Republic.

By the mid 1970s, it was clear that the hopes of the PIRA leadership for a quick military victory were receding. In addition, the British military was equally unsure of when it would begin to see any substantial success against the IRA. Secret meetings between IRA leaders Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and Billy McKee with British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Merlyn Rees secured an IRA ceasefire from February 1975 until January of the next year. The republicans believed that this was the start of a long term process of British withdrawal; however, it seems that Rees was trying to bring the Provisionals into peaceful politics without giving them any guarantees. Critics of the IRA leadership, most notably Gerry Adams, felt that the ceasefire was disastrous for the IRA, leading to infiltration by British informers, the arrest of many activists and a breakdown in IRA discipline - leading to sectarian killings and a feud with fellow republicans in the Official IRA. The ceasefire broke down in January 1976.<ref>(Taylor p156)</ref>

[edit] The "Long War"

Thereafter, the IRA, under the leadership of Adams and his supporters, evolved a new strategy termed the "Long War", which underpinned IRA strategy for the rest of the Troubles. It involved a 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 the Sinn Féin party. 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. The Irish Republican Army wages an armed campaign... Sinn Féin maintains the propaganda war and is the public and political voice of the movement"<ref>(O'Brien p128)</ref> The 1977 edition of the Green Book, an induction and training manual used by the PIRA, describes the strategy of the "Long War" in these terms:

  1. A war of attrition based on causing as many deaths as possible so as to create a demand from their [the British] people at home for their withdrawal.
  2. A bombing campaign aimed at making the enemy's financial interests in our country unprofitable while at the same time curbing long term investment in our country.
  3. To make the Six Counties ... ungovernable except by colonial military rule.
  4. To sustain the war and gain support for its ends by National and International propaganda and publicity campaigns.
  5. By defending the war of liberation by punishing criminals, collaborators and informers.<ref>(cited in O'Brien p 23)</ref>

[edit] 1981 Hunger Strikes and electoral politics

PIRA prisoners had political status removed from them after 1977. In response, over 500 prisoners refused to wash or wear prison clothes (see Dirty protest and Blanket protest.) This activity culminated in the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike, when 7 IRA (and 3 INLA) members starved themselves to death in pursuit of political status. One hunger striker (Bobby Sands) and Anti H-Block activist Owen Carron were elected to the British Parliament and two other hunger strikers to the Irish Dáil. In addition, there were work stoppages and large demonstrations all over Ireland in sympathy with the hunger strikers. Over 100,000 people attended the funeral of Bobby Sands, the first hunger striker to die. After the success of IRA hunger strikers in mobilising support and winning elections on an Anti H-Block platform in 1981, republicans increasingly devoted time and resources to electoral politics, through the Sinn Féin party. Danny Morrison summed up this policy in a 1982 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis (annual meeting) as the "Ballot Box in one hand and the Armalite in the other".<ref>(O'Brien p127)</ref> (See Armalite and ballot box strategy)

[edit] "TUAS" - peace strategy

In the 1980s, the PIRA made an attempt to escalate the conflict with the so called "Tet Offensive" (see here). When this did not prove successful, republican leaders increasingly looked for a political compromise to end the conflict. Gerry Adams entered talks with John Hume the SDLP (moderate nationalist) leader and secret talks were also conducted with British civil servants. Thereafter, Adams increasingly tried to disassociate Sinn Féin from the IRA, claiming they were separate organisations and refusing to comment on IRA actions. Within the Republican movement (the IRA and Sinn Féin), the new strategy was described by the acronym TUAS (meaning either "Tactical Use of Armed Struggle" or "Totally Unarmed Strategy").<ref>(Moloney p432)</ref>

The PIRA ultimately called an indefinite ceasefire in 1994 on the understanding that Sinn Féin would be included in political talks for a settlement. When this did not happen, the IRA called off its ceasefire from February 1996 until July 1997, carrying out several bombing and shooting attacks. After its ceasefire was reinstated, Sinn Féin was admitted into the "Peace Process", which produced the Belfast Agreement of 1998.

[edit] Weaponry and operations

Mural in Derry depicting IRA weapons, 1986

In the early days of the Troubles from around 1969-71, the Provisional IRA was very poorly armed, but starting in the early 1970s it procured large amounts of modern weaponry from such sources as supporters in the United States, Libyan leader Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi,<ref>(Taylor p156)</ref> arms dealers in Europe, America, the Middle East and elsewhere.

In the first years of the conflict, the Provisionals' main activity was providing firepower to support nationalist rioters, and, defend nationalist areas against attack. The PIRA 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.

However, from 1971-1994, the Provisionals launched a sustained offensive armed campaign that mainly targeted the British Army, the RUC, UDR and economic targets in Northern Ireland. The first half of the 1970s was the most intense period of the PIRA campaign.

The Armalite AR-18 - obtained by the PIRA from the US in the early 1970s and an emotive symbol of its armed campaign.

In addition, IRA units carried out many sectarian killings such as the Kingsmill massacre of 1976. Other instances of alleged sectarian attacks included killing RUC and Ulster Defence Regiment servicemen when they were off duty and the killing of people who worked in a civilian capacity with the RUC and British Army. Because these people were almost exclusively Protestant and unionist, these killings were also widely seen as a campaign of sectarian assassination. However, the IRA also killed Catholic members of the RUC and UDR.

The IRA was chiefly active in Northern Ireland, although it took its campaign to the Republic of Ireland and England, and also carried out several attacks in the Netherlands and West Germany. The IRA also targeted certain British government officials, politicians, judges, senior Military and police officers and civilians in Great Britain, and in other areas such as West Germany, Canada, the Netherlands and Australia. A considerable number of British civilians were killed by IRA bombs during the conflict.

It has been argued that this bombing campaign helped convince the British government (who had hoped to contain the conflict to Northern Ireland with its Ulsterisation policy) to negotiate with Sinn Féin after the IRA ceasefires of August 1994 and July 1997.

The devastation on Corporation Street in Manchester after the IRA bombing of 1996

[edit] Ceasefires and decommissioning of arms

In August 1994, the Provisional IRA declared an indefinite ceasefire. Although this ceasefire temporarily broke down in 1995-97, it essentially marked the end of the full scale PIRA campaign.

From December 1995 until July 1997, the Provisional IRA called off its 1994 ceasefire because of its dissatisfaction with the state of negotiations. They re-instated the ceasefire in July 1997, it has been in operation since then.<ref>(Moloney p472)</ref>

The Provisional IRA decommissioned all of its arms between July and September 2005. The decommissioning of its weaponry was supervised by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD). Among the weaponry estimated, (by Janes Intelligence), to have been destroyed as part of this process were:

  • 1,000 rifles
  • 3 tonnes of Semtex
  • 20-30 heavy machine guns
  • 7 Surface-to-air missiles (unused)
  • 7 flame throwers
  • 1,200 detonators
  • 20 rocket-propelled grenade launchers
  • 100 hand guns
  • 100+ grenades<ref>Estimates of weapons destroyed | BBC, 26 September 2005</ref>

The conclusion of the IICD, (that all PIRA weaponry has been destroyed), was arrived at by their full involvement in the process of destroying the weapons and their comparison of weapons destroyed with the figures British security forces estimate the PIRA had.<ref>Colonel al-Gaddafi is known to have given the British Government a detailed inventory of weapons he gave to the PIRA in the 1970s and 1980s, this list was handed to British intelligence in 1995. See Bowyer Bell Page 578</ref> Since the process of decommissioning completed, unnamed sources in MI5 and the PSNI have reported to the press that not all PIRA arms were destroyed during the process. This claim remains unsubstantiated so far.<ref>Allegations that not all PIRA weapons destroyed | Belfast Telegraph 6th February 2006</ref> Although the group overseeing the activities of paramilitaries in Northern Ireland - the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), in its latest report, dated April 2006, points out that it has no reason to disbelieve the PIRA or information to suspect that the group has not fully decommissioned. Rather it indicated that any weaponry that had not been handed in had been retained by individuals outside the PIRA's control.<ref>10th Report of the IMC Page 15 April 2006, available here.</ref></blockquote>

[edit] Other activities

Apart from its armed campaign, the Provisional IRA has also been involved in many other activities, including "policing", robberies and kidnapping for the purposes of raising funds.

[edit] Policing of communities

Image:Derry mural.jpg
One of the areas the police were unwelcome was the bogside area of Derry often known as Free Derry.

The PIRA looked on itself as the police force of nationalist areas of Northern Ireland during the Troubles instead of the RUC. There were a number of reasons for this. In many Nationalist areas of Northern Ireland, the RUC and British Army, as a result of their conduct and perceived involvement in oppression and violence against Nationalists, were considered biased, untrustworthy and basically not welcome.<ref>This feeling, that the RUC, B-Specials, UDR, British Army and other arms of the Governmental apparatus in Northern Ireland were biased against the Nationalist & Roman Catholic members of the community was not new. It predates the current 'Troubles' and predates organisations like the "Ulster Defence Volunteers" (Home guard) of WW2 who were also widely considered sectarian. For details see Robert Fisk "In Time of War" (Gill & Macmillan) 1983 P.189.</ref> Also, the RUC and other forces of the authorities were in some instances reluctant to enter certain Nationalist areas, or patrol, unless it was in armoured jeeps and convoys. Police stations were also heavily armoured because of persistent attacks from the PIRA. This gave them the appearance of being fortresses. These conditions lead to a situation where in some areas, the community would turn to the PIRA first to deal with troublemakers or those practising what came to be called "anti-social behaviour".<ref></ref> In efforts to stamp out "anti-social behaviour" and alleged instances of drug dealing reported to or noticed by the organisation, it killed or otherwise attacked suspected drug dealers and other suspected criminals. These attacks varied in severity and depended on various factors. In the first instance the PIRA may serve a caution on the perceived offender, which if they transgressed again might escalate to an attack known as a "punishment beating". Shooting the offender was seen as a last resort, although the process which the PIRA went through to determine an offenders "guilt" or "innocence" was never open to debate or scrutiny. The PIRA also engaged in attacks which broke the bones of alleged offenders, or involved shooting through the hands, or knees for persistent offenders of activities such as joyriding or drug dealing.<ref>Critics of the PIRA in the Unionist orientated media and political parties such as the DUP maintain that the PIRA itself was involved in "antisocial behaviour" and operated a policy of kneecapping drug dealers not under its control, or not paying it protection money. This was consistently rejected by the PIRA as a fantasy.</ref> In certain cases, for persistent offenders the PIRA would serve a notice for the individual to leave the country, this was known as being "put out" of the community/country, and the clear message given to individuals served with these notices was that if they returned to the community/country they would be killed. This practice was frequently criticised by all sections of the political establishment in Northern Ireland as "summary justice".

[edit] Informers

In an effort to stamp out what the PIRA termed "collaboration with British forces" and "informing", they killed over 60 Catholic civilians. Purges against these individuals, who the PIRA considered traitors to their own community and the cause of nationalism were most prevalent when the PIRA found itself persistently vulnerable to infiltration. Investigations into informers and infiltration are suspected to have been dealt with an IRA unit called the Internal Security Unit (ISU) known colloquially as the 'Nutting Squad'. This unit is said to be directly attached to PIRA GHQ. Where a confession was solicited the victim was often exiled or executed with a bullet in the back of the head. The body was either buried or later in the IRA campaign left in public place often in South Armagh.

One particular example of the killing of a person deemed by the IRA to be an informer that is the source of continuing controversy is that of Jean McConville from Belfast who was killed by the IRA. IRA sources continue to claim she was an informer despite the Police Ombudsman recently stating that this was not the case. The SDLP have described the killing as a 'War Crime'

[edit] Attacks on other Republican paramilitary groups

The PIRA has also targeted other republican paramilitary groups such as the Official IRA in the 1970s and the Irish People's Liberation Organisation in the 1990s.

Joseph O'Connor (26) was shot dead in Ballymurphy, west Belfast on 11 October 2000. He was a leading member of the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA). Claims have made by O'Connor's family and people associated with the RIRA, that he was murdered by Provisionals as the result of a feud between the organisations[1]. Sein Fein denied the claims[2]. No-one has been charged as yet with his killing.

[edit] Fundraising via Organised crime

The IRA has carried out many kidnappings and robberies of bank and post offices North and South of the Irish border over the 30 or so years of its existence. The Provisionals have killed 6 Gardai and one Irish Army soldier, mostly during such activities.

The PIRA was (and according to the Irish Minister of Justice, Michael McDowell, still is) involved in organised crime on both sides of the Irish border. These activities include smuggling, sale of contraband cigarettes, extortion and money laundering.

[edit] Casualties

This is a summary. For a detailed breakdown of casualties caused by and inflicted on the Provisional IRA see Provisional IRA campaign 1969-1997#Casualties

The Provisional IRA have killed more people than any other organisation since the Troubles began. In addition, they have killed more Roman Catholics, more Protestants, more civilians and more foreigners (those not from Northern Ireland) than any other organisation. Members of the PIRA however have frequently disputed that the forces ranged in opposition to the PIRA throughout 'the Troubles' represent separate, distinct "organisations". In the republican analysis of the conflict, organisations like the UDR, British Army, along with the UVF, and UDA represent an alliance of state and paramilitary forces, making a tally of this type nonsensical as it does not represent the nature of the conflict in their view.<ref>These accusations were particularly prevalent during the Miami Showband Massacre, the 1980s Stalker Shoot to kill inquiry, the assassination of Pat Finucane, and the Brian Nelson/Force Research Unit controversy. During these episodes Republicans were quick to highlight overlap of personnel between loyalist paramilitary organisations and arms of the British security services.</ref>

Two very detailed studies of deaths in the Troubles The CAIN project at the University of Ulster and Lost Lives<ref>Lost Lives (2004. Ed's David McKitrick, Seamus Kelters, Brian Feeney, Chris Thornton, David McVea)</ref> differ slightly on the numbers killed by the PIRA but a rough synthesis gives a figure of 1,800 deaths. Of these, roughly 1100 were members of the security forces - British Army, Royal Ulster Constabulary and Ulster Defence Regiment, between 600 and 650 were civilians and the remainder were either loyalist or republican paramilitaries (including over 100 PIRA members accidentally killed by their own bombs).

It has also been estimated that the IRA injured 6000 British Army, UDR and RUC and up to 14,000 civilians, during the Troubles.<ref>(O'Brien p135)</ref>

The Provisional IRA lost a little under 300 members killed in the Troubles.<ref>(Lost Lives p1531)</ref> In addition, roughly 50-60 members of Sinn Féin were killed.<ref>(cited in O'Brien, Long War p26)</ref>

Far more common than the killing of IRA Volunteers however, was their imprisonment. Journalists Eamonn Mallie and Patrick Bishop estimate in the The Provisional IRA, that between 8-10,000 PIRA members were imprisoned during the course of the conflict, a number they also give as the total number of IRA members during the Troubles.<ref>(Mallie, Bishop p12)</ref>

[edit] Categorisation

Due to its frequent use of bombs; its killing of hundreds of policemen, soldiers, loyalist paramilitaries, and civilians, throughout Northern Ireland and in other countries; its status as an illegal organisation; its role in racketeering, bank robberies, 'street justice' and the fact that the unionist majority in Northern Ireland wanted to continue living under British rule, it is internationally considered a terrorist group,<ref name="fn_4">The PIRA is described as a terrorist organisation by the governments of the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Spain, Germany and Italy, the latter three of which have alleged the existence of IRA links with terrorist organisations within their own jurisdictions including ETA and the Red Brigades. It is described as a terrorist organisation by An Garda Síochána, the police force of the Republic of Ireland, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, (PSNI). It is generally called a terrorist organisation by the following media outlets: The Irish Times, the Irish Independent, the Irish Examiner, the Sunday Independent, the Evening Herald, the Sunday Tribune, Ireland on Sunday and The Sunday Times. On the island of Ireland among political parties Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats who together form a coalition government in the Republic of Ireland refer to it as a terrorist organisation, as do the main opposition parties Fine Gael, the Labour Party, the Green Party, and the Workers Party, while in Northern Ireland it is described as a terrorist movement by the mainly nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party, the cross community Alliance Party, and from the unionist community the Ulster Unionist Party, the Democratic Unionist Party and the Progressive Unionist Party. Members of the IRA are tried in the Republic in the Special Criminal Court, a court set up by emergency legislation and which is described in its functioning as dealing with terrorism. On the island of Ireland the largest political party to suggest that the IRA is not a terrorist organisation is Sinn Féin, currently the largest pro-Belfast Agreement political party in Northern Ireland. Sinn Féin is widely regarded as the political wing of the IRA, but the party insists that the two organisations are separate. The United States Department of State and the European Union have taken the Provisional IRA off their lists of terrorist organisations due to the fact that there is a cease-fire. The RIRA and CIRA are still listed. Peter Mandelson, a former Northern Ireland Secretary (a member of the British cabinet with responsibility for Northern Ireland) contrasted the activities of the IRA and those of Al-Qaeda, describing the latter as "terrorists" and the former as "freedom fighters".</ref> although its supporters preferred the labels freedom fighter, guerrilla and volunteer.

The PIRA describes its actions throughout 'The Troubles' as a military campaign waged against the British Army, the RUC, and loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland and Britain. The PIRA considers these groups to be all part of the same apparatus.<ref>Recently released (3 May 2006) British Government documents show that overlapping membership between British Army units like the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) and loyalist paramilitary groups was a wider problem than a "few bad apples" as was often claimed. The documents include a report titled "Subversion in the UDR" which details the problem. In 1973; an estimated 5-15% of UDR soldiers were directly linked to loyalist paramilitary groups, it was believed that the "best single source of weapons, and the only significant source of modern weapons, for Protestant extremist groups was the UDR", it was feared UDR troops were loyal to "Ulster" alone rather than to "Her Majesty's Government", the British Government knew that UDR weapons were being used in the assassination and attempted assassination of Roman Catholic civilians by loyalist paramilitaries. May 2, 2006 edition of the Irish News available here.</ref> As noted above, the PIRA seeks to draw a direct descendancy from the original IRA and those who engaged in the 1916 Rebellion. The PIRA sees the previous conflict as a guerilla war which accomplished some of its aims, with some remaining "unfinished business".<ref>Gerry Adam's 2006 Easter Message was that "unfinished business" remains, available here. "But in truth The Proclamation is also unfinished business. It is unfinished business which the vast majority of the Irish people want to see brought to completion."</ref> This is the context which the PIRA prefers, couching its violence in terms of a continuing struggle against what they perceive to be the occupation of their country. Within this context then, PIRA members are "guerrilla's" fighting a war.

However, this interpretation has consistently been criticised and rejected by many residents of Northern Ireland, commentators, politicians from all sides of the political spectrum etc.<ref>For example, many mainstream politicians in the Republic of Ireland have always been at pains to try and draw any distinction they can between what they term "the old IRA" (that engaged in the 1916 Rebellion and Anglo-Irish War) and the "PIRA".</ref> It is rejected for a number of reasons. Firstly the term "Guerilla" confers legitimacy on violence which critics say is an attempt to coerce people who wish to remain within the Union into accepting a united Ireland. Secondly, PIRA violence is considered a rejection of democratic principles and due process. Thirdly, attacks by the PIRA, coupled with the horrific incidents that frequently happened as a result of their activities, caused a great deal of misery, terror, and death to the people caught up in those events. Also along with repeatedly killing and injuring of people who were involved or entirely innocent of the conflict, the PIRA persistently focused attacks on commercial targets to destabilise and wreck the economy of Northern Ireland.<ref>Ruining the economy of Northern Ireland was a stated aim of the PIRA as outlined in the 1977 induction and training manual of the PIRA, The Green Book.</ref> Fourthly, political leaders of the major parties in Britain and Ireland have preferred the term "terrorist" and "criminal" as it denies space for any competing interpretation which the PIRA may choose to phrase or contextualise events in. This process of "Criminalisation" was begun in the mid 1970s via the wider British strategy of "Criminalisation, Ulsterisation, and Normalisation".<ref>This strategy was outlined in a 1975 British strategy paper titled "The Way Ahead" and Labour’s first Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Merlyn Rees, and came to be the dominant theme in the conflict as it raged into the 1980s.</ref>

A less loaded categorisation of PIRA violence exists. It does not involve the terms "Guerilla" or "Terrorist" but does view the conflict in military terms. The phrase originated with the British military strategist Frank Kitson who was active in Northern Ireland during the early 1970s. In Kitson's view the violence of the PIRA represented an "insurrection" situation with the violence that came to enveloping it 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.

Membership of the IRA remains illegal in both the UK and the Republic of Ireland, but IRA prisoners convicted of offences committed before 1998 have been granted conditional early release as part of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement. 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.

[edit] Strength and support

Republican mural, Derry 1986, with evidence of vandalism.

[edit] Numerical strength

In the early to mid 1970s, the numbers recruited by the Provisional IRA, may have reached several thousand, but these were reduced when the IRA re-organised its structures from 1977 onwards. An RUC report of 1986 estimated that the PIRA had 300 or so members in Active Service Units and up to 750 active members in total in Northern Ireland.<ref>(O'Brien p161)</ref> This does not take into consideration the IRA units in the Republic of Ireland or those in Britain, continental Europe, and throughout the world. In 2005, Irish Minister for Justice Michael McDowell told the Dáil that the organisation had "between 1,000 and 1,500" active members.<ref>[3]</ref> According to The Provisional IRA (Eamon Mallie and Patrick Bishop), roughly 8000 people passed through the ranks of the IRA during the 30 year Troubles, many of them leaving after arrest, "retirement" or disillusionment.<ref>(Mallie, Bishop p12)</ref> In recent times the IRA's strength has been somewhat weakened by members leaving the organisation to join hardline splinter groups such as the Continuity IRA and the Real IRA. According to Irish Minister for Justice Michael McDowell, these organisations have little more than 150 members each.<ref>[4]</ref> Despite some successes by the British security services, military and police at infiltrating the IRA, as of the year 2001, the British, Irish and American governments believed that the IRA remained an extremely potent and capable terrorist organisation.

[edit] Electoral and popular support

The popular support for the IRA's campaign in the Troubles is hard to gauge, given that Sinn Féin, the IRA's political wing, did not stand in election until the early 1980s. Even after this, most nationalists in Northern Ireland voted for the moderate Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) until the early 2000s. After the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike, Sinn Féin mobilised large electoral support and won 105,000 votes or 43% of the nationalist vote in Northern Ireland, in the United Kingdom general election, 1983, only 34,000 votes behind the SDLP.<ref>(O'Brien p115)</ref> However, by the 1992 UK General Election, the SDLP won 184,445 votes and four seats to Sinn Féin's 78,291 votes and no seats.<ref>(O'Brien p198)</ref> In the 1993 Local District Council Elections in Northern Ireland, the SDLP won roughly 150,000 votes to Sinn Féin's 80,000 votes.<ref>(O'Brien p196)</ref> During the Troubles, therefore, nationalists in Northern Ireland tended to vote for non-violent nationalism rather than for Sinn Féin, who endorsed the IRA campaign. Sinn Féin did not overtake the SDLP as the main nationalist party in Northern Ireland until after the Belfast Agreement, by which time they no longer advocated violence. Few Protestant voters voted for Sinn Féin. In 1992, many of them voted for SDLP West Belfast candidate Joe Hendron rather than a unionist candidate in order to make sure Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin lost his seat in the constituency.<ref>(Coogan p284)</ref>

However, it is widely recognised that the IRA possessed substantial support in parts of Northern Ireland since the early 1970s. Areas of IRA support included working class Catholic/nationalist areas of Belfast, Derry and other towns and cities. The most notable of these include parts of the north and west Belfast and the Bogside and Creggan areas of Derry City. In addition, the PIRA has been strongly supported in rural areas with a strong republican tradition, these include South Armagh, East Tyrone, South county Londonderry and several other localities. Such support would be indicated by the recruitment of IRA volunteers from an area and the populace hiding weapons, providing safe houses to IRA members and providing information on the movements of the Security Forces.

In the Republic of Ireland, there was some sympathy for the Provisional movement in the early 1970s. However, the movement's appeal was hurt badly by more notorious bombings widely perceived as atrocities, such as the killing of civilians attending a Remembrance Day ceremony at the cenotaph in Enniskillen in 1987 and the murder of two children when a bomb went off in Warrington, which led to tens of thousands of people demonstrating on O'Connell Street in Dublin to call for an end to the IRA's campaign. Sinn Féin did very badly in elections in the Republic of Ireland during the IRA's campaign. For example, in the 1981 Irish General Election, Anti H-Block Republican candidates won just 5% of the popular vote<ref>(Mallie, Bishop p444)</ref> by the 1987 Irish General Election, Sinn Féin won only 1.7% of the votes cast<ref>(O'Brien p199)</ref> They did not make significant electoral gains in the Republic until after the IRA ceasefires and the Belfast Agreement of 1998.

Sinn Féin now has 24 members of the Northern Ireland Assembly (out of 108), five Westminster MPs (out of 18 from Northern Ireland) and five Republic of Ireland TDs (out of 166). This increase is widely perceived as support for the IRA ceasefire and some commentators maintain this support would decrease if the IRA returned to violence (although this did not happen during the brief resumption that occurred between the 1994 and 1997 ceasefires).

[edit] Support from other countries and organisations

The Provisionals have had extensive contacts with foreign governments and other illegal armed organisations.

Libya has been the biggest single supplier of arms and funds to the PIRA, donating large amounts of both in the early 1970s and mid 1980s. (See also)

The IRA has also received weapons and logistical support from Irish Americans, in the USA especially the NORAID group.(See also) Apart from the Libyan aid, this has been the main source of overseas IRA support. U.S. support has been weakened by the War against Terrorism, and the fallout from the events of the 11 September 2001. US Political backing for Sinn Féin was badly damaged by the Robert McCartney killing in late 2004. McCartney, a Catholic, was killed by IRA members in a pub brawl. Other IRA members destroyed all the forensic evidence on the scene and intimidated the witnesses. The McCartney family have publicly denounced the IRA.

In the United States in November 1982, five men were acquitted of smuggling arms to the IRA after they revealed the CIA had approved the shipment (although the CIA officially denied this). There are allegations of contact with the East German Stasi, based on the testimony of a Soviet defector to British intelligence Vasili Mitrokhin. Mitrokhin revealed that although the Soviet KGB gave some weapons to the Marxist Official IRA, it had little sympathy with the Provisionals.<ref>(Mitrokhin Archive 492-493). Page 501 of this edition, "the sympathies of the KGB were wholly with the Marxist Officials rather than the more nationalist Provisionals." </ref> Another more recent allegation is that the Provisional movement has been aided by the Cuban DGI. It has received some training and support from the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and has had some contact with Hezbollah. According to the Provisional IRA, the organisiation has also had fraternal contacts with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, Basque group ETA and various South African groups. Since the late 1970s it is believed by many intelligence agencies that the IRA has shared bomb making and urban warfare tactics with a list of groups including: The Basque Separatist Movement (ETA), South African ANC and the PLO. In 2001 three Irish men were caught allegedly training Colombian guerrillas, (the FARC), in bomb making and urban warfare techniques.<ref name="fn_5">These men were originally acquitted of aiding FARC and convicted solely on the lesser charge of possessing false passports; however the acquittal was overturned on appeal. The three men disappeared while on bail and have returned to Ireland, having departed from Colombia before the appeal was concluded. The Colombian government has said that it will seek their extradition, a position which has been supported by U.S. officials and by members of the Democratic Unionist Party in Ireland, while the British government has said that it will extradite them if they ever come within its jurisdiction. The case was controversial for several reasons, including accusations of heavy reliance on the testimony of a former FARC member (who was subsequently found to have perjured himself) and of dubious forensic evidence. The 3 Irishmen at one point accused the U.S. and British governments, who provided details about their background activities and gave technical support to Colombian forensic investigators, of setting them up (through the activities of their embassies in Bogotá). There was also political pressure from the government of Alvaro Uribe, supporters and members of which had previously called for a guilty verdict.</ref> The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations in its report of April 24, 2002 concluded "Neither committee investigators nor the Colombians can find credible explanations for the increased, more sophisticated capacity for these specific terror tactics now being employed by the FARC, other than IRA training."

[edit] The Belfast Agreement

The IRA ceasefire in 1997 formed part of a process that led to the 1998 Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. The Agreement has among its aims that all paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland cease their activities and disarm by May 2000. This is one of many Agreement aims that have yet to be realised.

Calls from Sinn Féin have led the IRA to commence disarming in a process that has been overviewed by Canadian General John de Chastelain's decommissioning body in October 2001. However, following the collapse of the Stormont power-sharing government in 2002, which was partly triggered by allegations that republican spies were operating within Parliament Buildings and the Civil Service (although no convictions came from the widely-publicised police operation, and it has since emerged that it was actually MI5 who had a spy in Stormont's Sinn Féin offices), the IRA temporarily broke contact with General de Chastelain. Increasing numbers of people, from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) under Ian Paisley and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) under Mark Durkan to the Irish government under Bertie Ahern and the mainstream Irish media, have begun demanding not merely decommissioning but the wholesale disbandment of the IRA. In December 2004, attempts to persuade the IRA to disarm entirely collapsed when the Democratic Unionist Party, under Ian Paisley, insisted on photographic evidence. The IRA stated that this was an attempt at humiliation. The Irish government (generally in private), and Justice Minister Michael McDowell (in public, and often) also insisted that there would need to be a complete end to IRA activity. This is felt by many to have been a major reason for the collapse of this deal. Politicians who called loudest for IRA decommissioning were often reticent on the corresponding obligation of loyalist groups to do the same.

At the beginning of February 2005, the IRA declared that it was withdrawing from the disarmament process, but in July 2005 it declared that its campaign of violence was over, and that transparent mechanisms would be used, under the de Chastelain process, to satisfy the Northern Ireland communities that it was disarming totally.

[edit] End of the armed campaign

On July 28 2005, the Provisional IRA Army Council announced an end to its armed campaign. In a statement read by Séanna Breathnach, the organisation stated that it has instructed its members to dump all weapons and not to engage in "any other activities whatsoever" apart from assisting “the development of purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means". Furthermore, the organisation authorised its representatives to engage immediately with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) to verifiably put its arms beyond use "in a way which will further enhance public confidence and to conclude this as quickly as possible".

This is not the first time that organisations styling themselves IRA have issued orders to dump arms. After its defeat in the Irish Civil War in 1924 and at the end of its unsuccessful Border Campaign in 1962, the IRA Army Council issued similar orders. However, this is the first time in Irish republicanism that any organisation has voluntarily decided to destroy its arms.

On 25 September 2005, international weapons inspectors supervised the full disarmament of the outlawed Irish Republican Army, a long-sought goal of Northern Ireland's peace process. The office of IICD Chairman John de Chastelain, a retired Canadian general who oversaw the weapons destruction at secret locations, released details regarding the scrapping of many tons of IRA weaponry at a news conference in Belfast on 26 September. 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. Harold Good, and Father Alec Reid, a Roman Catholic priest close to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, to view the secret disarmament work.<ref>Maintaining belief in peace aided N. Ireland transformation By Kevin Cullen, The Boston Globe, 27 September, 2005.</ref> However, Ian Paisley, the leader of the DUP, has complained that since the witnesses were appointed by the IRA themselves, rather than being appointed by the British or Irish governments, they therefore cannot be said to be unbiased witnesses to the decommissioning. These claims came as expected by Nationalists and Catholics, who view Ian Paisley’s consistent refusal to support devolution in northern Ireland with Catholics in power as a simple unwillingness to accept an end to Unionist rule and Catholic equality. [5]

[edit] Continuing activities of PIRA members

The 10th report from the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), an organisation monitoring activity by paramilitary groups on behalf of the British & Irish Governments, prefaced its remarks about PIRA activity by saying:

"It remains our absolutely clear view that the PIRA leadership has committed itself to following a peaceful path. It is working to bring the whole organisation fully along with it and has expended considerable effort to refocus the movement in support of its objective. In the last three months this process has involved the further dismantling of PIRA as a military structure."

its report made the following comments about current PIRA activity:

"We are not aware of current terrorist, paramilitary or violent activity sanctioned by the leadership. We have had no indications in the last three months of training, engineering activity, recent recruitment or targeting for the purposes of attack. There has now been a substantial erosion in PIRA’s capacity to return to a military campaign without a significant period of build-up, which in any event we do not believe they have any intentions of doing. The instructions we have previously mentioned to refrain from violence or rioting still stand."<ref>Tenth report of the Independent Monitoring Commission April 2006 available in PDF here NOTE: the IMC report is issued every six months.</ref>

The IMC has come in for criticism (mainly by Republicans) as having been set up outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement as a sop to Unionism. Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy summed up the typical republican feeling towards the IMC in February 2006. He said, "The IMC was established outside and in breach of the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. It is a tool for the securocrats and the opponents of change. It is not and never has been independent. It is politically biased, has a clear anti Sinn Féin agenda, and its procedures are flawed."

On the 4th of October 2006, the IMC ruled that the PIRA were no longer a threat.<ref>IMC: PIRA no longer a threat, The Guardian [6]</ref><ref>Blair says IRA campaign over [7]</ref>

[edit] P. O'Neill

The PIRA traditionally uses a well-known signature in its public statements, which are all issued under the pseudonymous name of "P. O'Neill" of the "Irish Republican Publicity Bureau, Dublin".

According to Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, it was Seán Mac Stiofáin, as chief of staff of the Provisionals, who invented the name. However, under his usage, the name was written and pronounced according to Irish orthography and pronunciation as "P. Ó Néill". Ó Brádaigh also maintains that there is no particular significance to the name, thus discounting claims that it is a reference to Sir Phelim O'Neill, the executed leader of the Irish Rebellion of 1641.

Some Unionists have sarcastically commented that the "P" actually stands for Pinocchio, given the claimed factual unreliability of some of P. O'Neill's statements over the years.

[edit] Infiltration

The PIRA has been infiltrated by British Intelligence agents, and in the past some PIRA members have been informers. PIRA members suspected of being informants were usually executed after an IRA 'court-martial'. The PIRA executed 63 people as informers in the Troubles.

The first large infiltrations of PIRA structures occurred in the mid 1970s, around the time of the PIRA ceasefire of 1975. Many PIRA volunteers were arrested when this ceasefire broke down in 1976. In the 1980s, many more PIRA members were imprisoned on the testimony of former PIRA members known as "supergrasses". Sean O'Callaghan one of the PIRA commanders in the Republic of Ireland, was an informer for the Garda Siochana throughout the 1980s until he was discovered and was put in protective custody in Britain.

Martin McGuinness, former IRA Chief of Staff, close ally of Adams, and supporter of his peace strategy

In recent years, there have been some high profile allegations of senior PIRA figures having been British informers. In May 2003 a number of newspapers named Freddie Scappaticci as the alleged identity of the British Force Research Unit's most senior informer within the Provisional IRA, code-named Stakeknife, who is thought to have been head of the Provisional IRA's internal security force, charged with rooting out and executing informers. Scappaticci denies that this is the case and began legal action in 2003 to force the then Minister for NI, Jane Kennedy, to state he was not an informer. She has refused to do so, and since then Scappaticci has not launched any libel actions against the media making the allegations.

On 16 December 2005, a senior Sinn Féin member Denis Donaldson appeared before TV cameras in Dublin and confessed to being a British spy for twenty years. He was said to have been debriefed by Sinn Féin and later expelled from the party. Donaldson was a former PIRA volunteer and subsequently highly placed Sinn Féin party member. One example of the trust put in Donaldson is that he had been entrusted by Gerry Adams with the running of Sinn Féin's operations in the USA in the early 1990's. On 4 April 2006 Donaldson was found shot dead at his retreat near Glenties in County Donegal. When asked whether he felt Donaldson's role as an informer in Sinn Féin was significant, the PIRA double agent using the pseudonym "Kevin Fulton" described Donaldson's role as a spy within Sinn Féin as "the tip of the iceberg".<ref>"Kevin Fulton" (not his real name) made the comments on a BBC News 24 interview 10th April 2006, Realmedia available here or available on googlevideo here</ref> The former Force Research Unit and MI5 operative using the pseudonym "Martin Ingram" concurs with "Kevin Fulton" and has even gone so far as to allege that Gerry Adams knew that Donaldson was an agent. Ingram has also claimed that Martin McGuinness is a British agent. As evidence for this claim he alleges that McGuinness was involved in the death of PIRA volunteer and FRU agent Frank Hegarty in May 1986.<ref>Ingram claims that Hegarty was an agent he ran as part of his duties working in the Force Research Unit.</ref> McGuinness has denied any involvement in the Hegarty case and brushed off allegations that he is a spy.<ref>For a discussion of the issue, listen to the Radio Free Eireann interview Ingram gave- see links. Also see this summary of the allegations against McGuinness here.</ref> He also brushed off the most recent allegations made by Ingram in the "Sunday World" newspaper on 28 May 2006.<ref>See synopsis of allegations available here.</ref> Allegations such as these have caused disquiet in republican circles. Dissent has also arisen over the recent case of the "Tohill 4"- four men currently on the run (OTR) after the abduction of dissident republican Bobby Tohill in 2004. McGuinness has asked that the men hand themselves in "to the authorities". The lack of disclosure over what secrets Donaldson divulged during his 20 year period as a British spy have caused a simmering discontent amongst Republicans. Donaldson took his secrets to the grave. Whether the allegations against McGuinness and Adams are true or whether they are a British intelligence dirty tricks campaign has yet to be revealed. The allegations have started some commentators asking whether the entire PIRA peace strategy has been orchestrated by the presence of British informers at the highest levels of their movement.<ref>West Belfast Journal THE BLANKET available here, is a place where such views can be aired freely.</ref> Journalist and author Ed Moloney also hints at this in his book, "The Secret History of the IRA".

[edit] See also

[edit] References


[edit] Sources

  • Martin Dillon, 25 Years of Terror - the IRA's War against the British,
  • Richard English, Armed Struggle - A History of the IRA, MacMillan, Lodon 2003, ISBN 1-4050-0108-9
  • Peter Taylor, Provos - the IRA and Sinn Féin
  • Ed Moloney, The Secret History of the IRA, Penguin, London 2002,
  • Eamonn Mallie and Patrick Bishop, The Provisional IRA, Corgi, London 1988. ISBN 0-552-13337-X
  • Toby Harnden, Bandit Country -The IRA and South Armagh, Hodder & Stoughton, London 1999, ISBN 0-340-71736-X
  • Brendan O'Brien, The Long War - The IRA and Sinn Féin. O'Brien Press, Dublin 1995, ISBN 0-86278-359-3
  • Tim Pat Coogan, The Troubles,
  • Tim Pat Coogan, The IRA: A History (1994)
  • Tony Geraghty, The Irish War
  • David McKitrick, Seamus Kelters, Brian Feeney, Chris Thornton, David McVea, Lost Lives.
  • J Bowyer Bell, The Secret Army - The IRA, 1997 3rd Edition, ISBN 1-85371-813-0
  • Christopher Andrews, The Mitrokhin Archive (also published as The Sword and the Shield)

[edit] External links

Irish armed groups using the name Irish Republican Army

Irish Republican Army (Army of the Irish Republic) (1919–1922)

Organisations known by the name in later years

Irish Republican Army (1922–1969) | Official IRA (1969–present) | Provisional IRA (1969–present) | Continuity IRA (1986–present) | Real IRA (1997–present)

See also

Timeline of the Irish Republican Army

ar:جيش جمهوري إيرلندي cs:Provisional Irish Republican Army de:Irish Republican Army es:Ejército Republicano Irlandés Provisional ga:IRA Sealadach ko:급진주의적 아일랜드 공화국군 (1969년) id:Tentara Republik Irlandia Sementara it:Provisional Irish Republican Army nl:Provisional Irish Republican Army ja:IRA暫定派 no:Den provisoriske IRA sv:Provisoriska IRA tr:İrlanda Cumhuriyet Ordusu

Provisional Irish Republican Army

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