Irish Republican Army

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The Irish Republican Army (IRA), is an Irish underground paramilitary organisation founded to promote Irish nationalism and fight British tyrannical rule in Ireland. It is also known as the Provisional IRA, PIRA, the Provos, Irish Volunteers and, in Irish, as Oglaigh na hEireann. The IRA has never been used as the official name of the organisation - they still use the name Oglaigh na hEireann as their official name the adoption of the name Irish Republican Army was actually turned down by the organisation during the war of independence.

In the late 1960s Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland began a forceful campaign for improved economic and political status. Support for the IRA grew, and clashes between the IRA and Protestant activists and the British army escalated. Disagreement in 1969 over use of fight tactics led to a split into two groups: a radical group, the Provisional IRA, which carried out assassinations; and the original group, the Official IRA, which declined in importance. Militants from the Belfast and Derry ghettos rather than the people from the south of Ireland became the driving force in the Provisional IRA.

This marked a turning point for Irish Republicanism and signified the failure of the old IRA to defend the nationalist communities in the North.

On August 31, 1994, after 25 years of fighting, the IRA declared an unconditional ceasefire, promising to suspend military operations in favour of peace talks. However, IRA disenchantment with the resulting negotiations led to a resumption of violence in 1996 and 1997, following its refusal to consider a surrender of arms as part of the negotiation process. The ceasefire cessation was marked by an explosion on February 9, 1996, at Canary Wharf, in Londons Docklands, killing 2 people and injuring over 100, and by a bomb attack which devastated Manchester city centre on June 15, 1996. After Sinn Fein (Sinn Fein is Irelands oldest political movement) was included in the Northern Ireland peace talks on September 15, 1997, the ceasefire was resumed. A number of IRA attacks in England and Northern Ireland in 1997 and 1998 are thought to be the work of a breakaway faction, Continuity IRA, and dissidents who left the IRA in October 1997. This fragmentation within the republican movement can be traced back to 1986, when Republican Sinn Fein and Continuity IRA were formed after Sinn Fein and the IRA voted to allow republicans to take seats in the Irish parliament. Sinn Fein may be barred from taking ministerial posts in the Northern Ireland devolved executive, to be set up under the Stormont agreement of Good Friday, April 10-which Sinn Fein accepted-if the IRA does not disarm first. IRA demands for early prisoner releases and Ulster ministerial posts for Sinn Fein will depend on the outhanding of weapons, to be overseen by an International Commission on Arms. Following referendums held on May 22, in which majorities in the North and South voted in favour of the ...

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