Irish Republican Army
Northern Ireland came into existence with the British Government of Ireland Act (1920) which divided Ireland into two areas: the Irish Free State, made up of the 26 southern counties, and Northern Ireland - comprising of the counties of Antrim, Down, Armagh, Londonderry, Tyrone and Fermanagh. Roman Catholics, who made up around one-third of the population of Northern Ireland, were largely opposed to the partition.
Irish Republican Army (IRA), nationalist organization devoted to the integration of Ireland as a complete and independent unit. Organized by Michael Collins from remnants of rebel units dispersed after the Easter Rebellion in 1916 (see Ireland), it was composed of the more militant members of the Irish Volunteers, and it became the military wing of the Sinn Féin party. With the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, the IRA became the stronghold of intransigent opposition to Ireland's dominion status and to the separation of Northern Ireland. During the troubled early years of the Free State, the IRA was responsible for numerous bombings, raids, and street battles on both sides of the Irish border.
Popular and effective at first, its fortunes turned after Eamon De Valera, a former IRA supporter, took over the Free State government in 1932. Weakened by internal dissensions, by a loss of popular support because of its violence and pro-German agitation during World War II, by the attainment of republican objectives in 1949, and by government measures against its illegal activities, the IRA declined swiftly. Eventually outlawed by both Irish governments, it became a secret organization. It perpetrated bombing attacks in Belfast, London, and at the Ulster border during the 1950s, particularly in 1956–57, but then became quiescent until the late 1960s.
- Graphic representation of groups area
Northern Ireland, Irish Republic, Great Britain, Europe.
- organizational chart
The IRA is the biggest, most significant and best organized of the paramilitary groups operating in Ireland. (The organization is also known as the Provisional IRA, PIRA, the Provos, and, in Irish, as Oglaigh na hEireann.) The other main Republican paramilitary organization, the hard-left Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), has fractured into a number of very small feuding factions, including a group called the Irish People's Liberation Organization (IPLO). On the other side of the sectarian divide, the two main Loyalist paramilitary organizations are the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).
The day-to-day running of the IRA is conducted by a seven-person Army Council. Members of the council always include the chief of staff, the adjutant general and the quartermaster general. In recent times, the members have been mainly from Northern Ireland and the Border counties. Members of the present council come from Belfast, Derry, Donegal, north Monaghan and the Louth-Armagh border area.
The General Army Convention (GAC) is the supreme authority of the IRA and meets on comparatively rare occasions. According to the IRA Constitution, the GAC is to m