The Irish Republican Army (IRA) (Irish: Óglaigh na hÉireann)
A military organization descended from the Irish Volunteers in April 1916 and which was recognized in 1919 by Dáil Éireann (its elected assembly) as the legitimate army of the unilaterally declared Irish Republic, the Irish state proclaimed in the Easter Rising in 1916 and reaffirmed by the Dáil in January 1919. In Irish, it was known as Óglaigh na hÉireann.
Though a series of organizations later claimed to be a continuation of the IRA from the 1920s to today, many Irish people disagree with these claims. After the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, members of the IRA who supported the Treaty formed the nucleus of the National Armyfounded by IRA leader Michael Collins in 1922. While the anti-Treaty IRA continued to exist after its defeat in the Irish Civil War, by the late 1930s it had lost most of the legitimacy with which most supporters of the Republican side initially regarded it. A small minority of Irish people accepts later claimants to the name as the political heirs of the original Irish Republican Army, though none had their claims accepted by Dáil Éireann. To distinguish between the army of the Irish Republic, and later claimants to the name, the original army recognised by the Dáil is sometimes called theOld IRA
Physical force Irish Republicanism as an ideology had a long history, from the United Irishman of the 1798 and 1803 rebellions, to the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848 and the Irish Republican Brotherhood rebellion of 1867. In addition, the methods of the IRA were to some extent inspired by the traditions of militant agrarian Irish secret societies like the Defenders, the Ribbonmen and the supporters of the Irish Land League.
The acronym "IRA" was first used by the IRB organization in America (also known as the Fenian Brotherhood, pronounced Fee-nan). This "Irish Republican Army" of the 1860s comprised the American Fenians' paramilitary forces, organized into a number of regiments. Fenian soldiers wearing IRA insignia fought at theBattle of Ridgeway on June 2, 1866. However the term Irish Republican Army in its modern sense was first used in the second decade of the 20th Century for the rebel forces of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizens Army during the Easter Rising. It was subsequently, and most commonly, used for those Volunteers who fought a guerrilla campaign in 1919–1921 in support of the Irish Republic declared in 1919.
Background—Home Rule and the Volunteers
Negotiations on an Anglo-Irish Treaty took place in late 1921 in London. The Irish delegation was led by Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins.
The most contentious areas of the Treaty for the IRA were abolition of the Irish Republic declared in 1919, the status of the Irish Free State as a dominion in the British Commonwealth and the British retention of the so called Treaty Ports on Ireland's south coast. These issues were the cause of a split in the IRA and ultimately, the Irish Civil War.
Under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, Ireland was partitioned, creating Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland (Republic of Ireland). Under the terms of the Anglo-Irish agreement of December 6, 1921, which ended the war (1919–1921), Northern Ireland was given the option of withdrawing from the new state, the Irish Free State, and remaining part of the United Kingdom. The Northern Ireland parliament chose to do the latter. An Irish Boundary Commission was then set up to review the border.
Irish leaders expected that it would so reduce Northern Ireland's size, by transferring nationalist areas to the Irish Free State, as to make it economically unviable. Partition was not the key breaking point between pro- and anti-Treaty campaigners; both sides expected the Boundary Commission to emasculate Northern Ireland. Moreover, Michael Collins was planning a clandestine guerrilla campaign against the Northern state using the IRA. In early 1922, he sent IRA units to the border areas and sent arms to northern units. For this reason, the future of Northern Ireland was not the cause of the Irish Civil War. It was only afterwards, when partition was confirmed that a united Ireland became the preserve of anti-Treaty Republicans.
The IRA and the Treaty
The IRA leadership was deeply divided over the decision by the Dáil to ratify the Treaty. Despite the fact that Michael Collins - the de facto leader of the IRA - negotiated the Treaty, many IRA officers were against it. Of the General Headquarters (GHQ) staff, nine members were in favour of the Treaty while four opposed it. Many of the IRA rank- and- file were against the Treaty and in January–June 1922, their discontent developed into open defiance of the elected civilian Provisional government of Ireland. Anti-treaty historian Dorothy Macardale has claimed that 70 to 80 per cent of the IRA was against the Treaty. Although she cannot be regarded as a particularly neutral source, Richard Mulcahy estimated at the outbreak of the civil war that the anti-treaty IRA members outnumbered the pro-treaty ones by over 2–1.
The anti-Treaty side argued that the IRA's allegiance was to the Dáil of the Irish Republic and the decision of the Dáil to accept the Treaty meant that the IRA no longer owed that body its allegiance. They called for the IRA to withdraw from the authority of the Dáil and to entrust the IRA Executive with control over the army. On 16 January, the first IRA division – the 2nd Southern Division led by Ernie O'Malley – repudiated the authority of the GHQ. A month later, on 18 February, Liam Forde, O/C of the IRA Mid-Limerick Brigade, issued a proclamation stating that: "We no longer recognise the authority of the present head of the army, and renew our allegiance to the existing Irish Republic". This was the first unit of the IRA to break with the pro-Treaty government.
On March 28, Rory O'Connor held what was to become an infamous press conference and declared that the IRA would no longer obey the Dáil as it had violated its Oath to uphold the Irish Republic. He went on to say that "we repudiate the Dáil … We will set up an Executive which will issue orders to the IRA all over the country." In reply to the question on whether this meant they intended to create a military dictatorship, O’Connor said: "You can take it that way if you like."
On March 28, the anti-Treaty IRA Executive issued statement stating that Minister of Defence Richard Mulcahy and the Chief-of-Staff Eoin O'Duffy no longer exercised any control over the IRA. In addition, it ordered an end to the recruitment to the new military and police forces of the Provisional Government. Furthermore, it instructed all IRA units to reaffirm their allegiance to the Irish Republic on April 2.
The pro-treaty IRA soon became the nucleus of the new (regular) Irish National Army created by Collins and Richard Mulcahy. British pressure, and tensions between the pro- and anti-Treaty factions of the IRA, led to a bloody civil war, ending in the defeat of the anti-Treaty faction. Roughly 7,000 to 8,000 of the Free State's National Army were former IRA Volunteers. On the other side, perhaps 15,000 men fought on the anti-Treaty side. On May 24, 1923 Frank Aiken, the anti-treaty IRA Chief-of-Staff, called a cease-fire. Many left political activity altogether, but a minority continued to insist that the new Irish Free State, created by the "illegitimate" Treaty, was an illegitimate state. They asserted that their "IRA Army Executive" was the real government of a still-existing Irish Republic. The IRA of the Civil War and subsequent organizations that have used the name, claim lineage from that group.
The goal of the United Irishmen of the 1790s was to achieve equality and freedom for the people of Ireland. Initially choosing non-violent means to achieve their goals, they took up arms after being met time and time again with repressive measures from the British government. Armed uprisings against British rule occurred in 1798, 1803, 1848, and 1867; yet the British government continuously denied demands for legislative independence.
Then came the Irish Holocaust (AKA the Irish Famine) in which between 1845 and 1852 at least a million people died of starvation and a million more emigrated to America, Australia, and Canada.
The Holocaust was followed by the Fenian Movement. In 1867, the Fenians staged a rebellion that only lasted a few months. The last of the Fenians was Jeremiah O' Donavan Rossa, and it was at his graveside oration that Padraig Pearse said, "The fools, the fools, the fools, they have left us our Fenian dead, but while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace."
Forty-nine years then passed before Irish Nationalists attempted another armed resistance. Those 49 years, however, were an intense political period in which the overwhelming majority of the Irish people continued to express their desire for independence and sought to do so via democratic means; but legislation for Home Rule was defeated in the British parliament in 1886 and again 1893. During this period, the unionists and conservatives organised the importation of arms illegally and pledged to resist Home Rule by force -- thus, the birth of the ulster volunteer force (UVF) in 1913.
The formation of Oglaigh Na hEireann followed. The literal meaning of the term when directly translated from Gaeilge to English is "Irish Volunteers" (soldiers). They were the Irish Republican Brotherhood, later to be known as the Irish Republican Army.1 Their counterpart, the chief Irish separatist movement in the US, was Clan na Gael, headed by John DeVoy.2 Clan na Gael had formed during the American Civil War and had even tried to invade Canada to secure a land for the Irish.
In 1914 the UVF was allowed to import arms unhindered by the brits; yet, when Oglaigh Na hEireann imported a much smaller quantity of arms, crown forces viciously attacked them.
The Easter Rising of 1916 is regarded by many as the defining event in the history of Irish Republicanism, with the Proclamation of the Republic issued then as the founding document of the IRA. It declared an independent Republic and pledged Republicans to "equal rights and equal opportunities" for all the Irish people. Sadly, theEaster Rising was crushed within a week, with sixteen of its leaders executed by the British government.
In 1918 the threat of impending conscription for brit forces in WWI was hanging over the Irish, and by 1919 a widespread and effective guerrilla campaign began.
In 1919 Sinn F�in established an independent Irish parliament -- Dail Eireann -- and declared sovereignty of Ireland as a Republic. The Irish Volunteers became the Army of the Republic, under the Ministry of Defence. The response from the British government was to ban all of these institutions and declare war on the new Irish democracy. Martial law was declared; streets, shops and factories in many towns were burnt down; there were executions in prisons and torture in internment camps. In response the IRA waged another effective guerrilla campaign. The guerrilla tactics used at this time later became classic examples of guerrilla warfare.
Then in 1921, on the basis of agreement by the British government to negotiate with Irish leaders, the IRA called a truce. However, subsequent negotiations produced a Treaty that split Nationalist Ireland. A Civil War followed between the "regulars" and the "irregulars." The "regulars" were the pro-treaty forces also known as freestaters. The "irregulars" were the anti-treaty forces known as republicans -- almost all the fighting took place in Dublin. One of the first acts of the war was the shelling of the fourcourts, which had been taken over by the "irregulars" led by Rory O Connor. After the assassination of Sir Henry Wilson in London, Lloyd George (brit PM at the time ) demanded action against the "irregulars"; and it was Michael Collins who shelled them out.
In May 1923 the Civil War ended. However, it was not until 1939, that the IRA began a bombing campaign in english cities. This was effectively over by 1941, with relatively few attacks having occurred.
By 1945 the IRA was a scattered and depleted army, although some units existed independently. Ex-Republicans of Fianna Fail (FF) had helped deplete the IRA of the 1940s. One ex-IRA FF minister Kevin Boland stated that �the IRA was dead and that he had killed it.� And whereas the noted IRA execution of that time was Tom Williams in the north, FF executed 6 in the south. With the execution of the Chief of Staff in 1944, Charlie Kerins, there was no longer a C/S, Army Council, Executive or GHQ Staff. During this time, however, Cathal Goulding was instrumental in reorganising the IRA. And, S�an Garland was an Active Service Volunteer, along with Daithi O Connell, et al., during the 1957 Brookeborough RUC Barracks attack in 1957 (the night South and Oh Anluian died).
During the next 30 years, the IRA were a small and ill-armed unit of men and women, dedicated to the ideal of a 32-county Ireland and the removal of British presence in the north of Ireland; but since the border campaign of the late 50s and early 60s, the IRA existed in name only. They were politically naive in many ways. Their arms (what little they had to start with) were almost totally depleted (and at one stage it was considered more important to save the weapons rather than the volunteers, if the case arose). The right to bear arms against an oppressive regime, like that in the north of Ireland, was the only perspective to which they held credence. But their political naivete, more so among the "ground troops," served as bond between them, and the lack of "in house" bickering was unheard of for the most part.
By the early '70s, the emergence of a more formidable and politically aware republican movement, led by Joe Cahill, Seamus Twomey, Ruairi O Bradaigh, and Daithi O Connell on the political front, and up and coming young militarists like Cathal Goulding, Joe Mc Cann, and Sean MacStiofain, created a split within the republican movement as to which direction they should go politically. The split saw the birth of what is now known as the PROVISIONAL IRA (PIRA), and those opposed to the change as the OFFICIAL IRA (OIRA) or "Stickies"; but both claimed the title Oglaigh Na hEireann when carrying out acts of war or the releasing press statements.
Joe Mc Cann, along with Cathal Goulding, stayed within the OIRA. Sean MacStiofain became Chief of staff of the Reorganised IRA led by the "Provisional" Army Council in 1969/70. He remained C/S until 1972/3.
Some believe that the OIRA arms cache was seized in the early '70s by the People's Liberation Army, a forerunner of the IRISH NATIONAL LIBERATION ARMY (INLA) andIRISH REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST PARTY (IRSP). However, the OIRA continues to exist. It has some strength in parts of Belfast and in Newry. Following the Sticky Ceasefire in 1972, OIRA continued to carry out operations in a clandestine manner to appease the militant. It murdered many ex-members some of whom had gone over to the INLA, such as Hugh Ferguson, and in 1977 most notably Seamus "The Boy General" Costello.
As late as 1982 there were militants on the Stick�s GHQ pushing for a PEOPLES WAR. The last Sticky-IRSP defections are believed to have taken place at that time, including senior ex-Stick military men.
In 1986, the republican movement also took another turn in which, as a result of policy differences, Ruair� � Bradaigh walked out of the Sinn F�in Ard Fheis. Along with O Bradaigh, went people who had been with the republican movement a long time, and regarded the change of policy as a betrayal of party policy in regard to taking seats in elections (the Abstensionist Policy). Ruairi O Bradaigh went on to form REPUBLICAN SINN FEIN, and it had been suggested by the media that the Continuity IRA (CIRA) was the military wing of RSF.
The CIRA was first heard of in 1996, when a bomb in Enniskillen exploded at the Kilyhelvin hotel. To date, most of their efforts to carry out explosions, either in Britain or in the North of Ireland have been thwarted by the Special branch (police force) in the republic, the RUC in the north, and the anti-terrorist squad in Britain, resulting in several arrests including some (thought to be) key figures within the movement.
The existence of the OIRA was again highlighted at the 1992 WORKERS PARTY Ard Fheis, which led to the split that spawned the "Democratic Left." Senior Party members who went over to the Democratic Left claimed that they only found out the morning of the Ard Fheis that OIRA still existed! There was a split in 1997/8 between the rump still loyal to OIRA Chief of Staff Cathal Goulding, et al., and a splinter group: THE OFFICIAL REPUBLICAN MOVEMENT.
On 20th July 1997, the PIRA called a ceasefire which to date has been upheld, but the cessation of an armed struggle against the British forces caused a certain amount of dissension within the ranks of the PIRA. Those opposed to the ceasefire were thought to have included the Quarter Master General (the person responsible for weapons, etc.) of the PIRA, a prominent SF councillor, and a few well-known and publicized names. Their formation of a group calling itself the �32 County Sovereignty Movement� is widely believed to be the political wing of �glaigh Na h�ireann (the name they adopted) but better known as the REAL IRA (RIRA). Their opposition to the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) and the PIRA's cessation of an armed struggle made headlines on 15 Aug 1998, when in the market town of Omagh in County Tyrone, they exploded a bomb. Video footage of the incident shows the BA/RUC moving people into rather than away from the danger, thus killing 29 people and injuring hundreds. They subsequently declared a ceasefire.
On 30 January, 1972, 27 civil rights protesters were shot by members of the 1st Battalion of the British Parachute Regiment during a Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association march in the Bogside area of the city. Thirteen people, six of whom were minors, died immediately.
The Brits did investigations and cleared them of any wrong doing May the murders of the Crown pay for their actions
Kinda like trusting the fox to keep the chickens safe.
13 people died that day and one 4 1/2 months later This page is to honor them For they were Irish and took a civil way to unify Ireland and were killed in the process
Bloody Sunday Monument
In Memory of
who died later as a result of injuries received that day
Between 1917-1981 22 Irishmen died on hunger strikes in protest to the tyranny of the British crown We pay tribute to them.
For their part in the cause of a Free and unified Ireland was just as important as the Irishmen with rifles. God rest their brave souls and God bless Ireland