Irish Republican Army

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Irish Republican Army
IRA flag.png
Full Name: Irish Republican Army
Alias: IRA
Provisional IRA
Real IRA
Óglaigh na hÉireann
Official IRA
Origin: Ireland
Foundation: January 21, 1919
Headquarters: Knockmealdown Mountains, County Waterford, Ireland
Commanders: See list
Goals: Make Northern Ireland part of the Republic of Ireland (failed)
Crimes: Terrorism
Mass murder
War crimes
Destruction of property
Type of Villain: Terrorists

Our day will come, believe me.
~ The IRA motto.
The Irish Republican Army were a paramilitary organization based in Ireland. The most infamous version of the paramilitary organization was the Provisional Irish Republican Army which were primarily active during the Troubles.

As militant Irish republicans, the organization sought to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom. The IRA are viewed by some as "counter terrorists", they emerged a year after the Civil Rights campaign in which nationalist citizens demanded equal rights in a society dominated by Ulster loyalists.

They not only carried out terrorist acts in Northern Ireland (mainly Belfast) but occasionally in England for what the saw as opponents of a predominant Irish republic.

The exact number of deaths attributable to the organization is a subject of debate, however the most common figures range somewhere between 1,000 and 1,700.

The Provisional Irish Republican army declared a ceasefire in 1997 and was declared disestablished in 2005. However, many dissident groups claiming the name "IRA" such as the Continuity IRA and the New IRA(also known as the Real IRA) exist and continue to commit vigilante attacks and attempt car bombings to this day.


The IRA is a proscribed organisation in the United Kingdom under the Terrorism Act 2000, and an unlawful organisation in the Republic of Ireland under the Offences Against the State Acts, where IRA volunteers are tried in the non-jury Special Criminal Court. A similar system was introduced in Northern Ireland by the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973, with a Diplock court consisting of a single judge and no jury.

The IRA rejected the authority of the courts in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and its standing orders did not allow volunteers on trial in a criminal court to enter a plea or recognise the authority of the court, doing so could lead to expulsion from the IRA. These orders were relaxed in 1976 due to increased sentences in the Republic of Ireland for IRA membership. IRA prisoners were granted conditional early release as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

American TV news broadcasts tended to describe the Provisional IRA as "activists" and "guerrillas", while British TV news broadcasts commonly used the term "terrorists", particularly the BBC as part of its editorial guidelines published in 1989. Republicans reject the label of terrorism, instead describing the IRA's activity as war, military activity, armed struggle or armed resistance.

The IRA prefer the terms freedom fighter, soldier, activist, or volunteer for its members. The IRA has also been described as a "private army". The IRA sees the Irish War of Independence as a guerrilla war which accomplished some of its aims, with some remaining "unfinished business".

An internal British Army document written by General Sir Michael David Jackson and two other senior officers was released in 2007 under the Freedom of Information Act. It examined the British Army's 37 year of deployment in Northern Ireland, and described the IRA as "a professional, dedicated, highly skilled and resilient force", while loyalist paramilitaries and other republican groups were described as "little more than a collection of gangsters".

Timeline of actions

The name "IRA" has been used by many different groups, descended from the same organization. Attacks on this list were claimed by one of these groups. "Notable" attacks are those that resulted in fatalities, or had significant targets.

August 1922-May 1923: The guerilla phase of the Irish Civil War.

January 1939-March 1940: The Sabotage Campaign in England, targeted primarily at government buildings and infrastructure. Including the Coventry bombing(see below) 10 are killed and 96 are injured.

August 25, 1939: A bomb mounted on a bicycle is detonated in the Coventry city center, killing 5 and injuring 70.

September 1942-December 1944: The Northern Campaign, a series of bombings and shootings directed at the Royal Ulster Constabulary(now Police Service of Northern Ireland). 5 RUC officers and one Irish Special Branch officer are killed, and a police station is damaged.

December 12, 1956-February 26,1962: The Border Campaign, another attempt to spark a conflict by attacking RUC stations and personnel, as well as attacks bombings, arson and sabotage directed at other government facilities and infrastructure. 6 RUC officers are killed, and many British government and military properties are damaged.

1969-1997: Various IRA factions conduct an armed campaign against the UK and its loyalist militias, known as the Troubles. Excluding PIRA members, at least 1,572 are killed, including 508 civilians. Notable attacks committed by IRA organizations during this period include:

June 27-28, 1970:The Provisional IRA battles an angry mob of Ulster Loyalists near St. Matthew's Catholic Church in the Short Strand neighborhood of Belfast, Northern Ireland, killing two.

February 8, 1971: During a riot in the New Lodge neighborhood, the Provisional IRA shoots British artillery crews, killing gunner Robert Curtis. He was the first British military fatality of the Troubles, and the first British soldier killed on the island of Ireland since 1921.

March 9, 1971: The Provisional IRA kidnaps and executes three off-duty British soldiers, two of them under 18. This was the first killing of off-duty British soldiers in the Troubles.

November 2, 1971: The Provisional IRA bombs the Red Lion bar next door to the Ormeau Road RUC station in Belfast. Due to inadequate warnings, three Protestant civilians are killed.

January 17, 1972: Seven Provisional IRA volunteers escape from HMS Maidstone where they were being interned.

February 22, 1972:The Official IRA detonates a car bomb outside the officers' mess in Aldershot Garrison, England, killing 7 civilian staff and injuring 19 others. As a result, the Official IRA disbands and reorganizes as the Irish National Liberation Army.

March 20, 1972: The Provisional IRA detonates a car bomb outside a loyalist newspaper office on Donegal Street in Belfast, Northern Ireland, killing 7(including 4 civilians) and injuring 143. This is the first known car bomb attack committed by the Provisional IRA.

July 24, 1972: Bloody Friday in Belfast: the Provisional IRA bombs 22 locations around Belfast, killing 9(including two British soldiers and one UDA member) and injuring 130.

July 31, 1972: The Provisional IRA detonates three car bombs on the Main Street of Claudy, County Londonderry, killing 9 and injuring 30.

August 22, 1972: Three Provisional IRA volunteers prematurely detonate a bomb at the customs office in Newry, County Armagh, killing themselves and 6 civilians and injuring 20.

October 22, 1972: The Provisional IRA bombs two barges in Lough Neagh, sinking them. The damage is estimated at 80,000 pounds.

November 28, 1972:The Provisional IRA fires an RPG-7 at the RUC station(which was also serving as a British Army base) in Belleek, County Fermanagh, killing an RUC officer. This is the first known use of RPGs by the Provisional IRA.

December 18, 1972: The Provisional IRA kidnaps and assassinates Ulster Unionist Party councillor William Johnston near Middletown, County Armagh.

March 8, 1973: The Provisional IRA detonates two car bombs, one outside the Old Bailey courthouse and one outside the Ministry of Agriculture in London, England, killing one and injuring 243. This is the Provisional IRA's first attack in Great Britain.

October 31, 1973: Using a stolen helicopter, the Provisional IRA rescues three volunteers from Mountjoy Prison in Dublin, Ireland.

February 4, 1974: The Provisional IRA bombs a bus carrying British soldiers and their families. 9 soldiers and 3 civilians are killed, and 38 total are injured.

April 9, 1974:The Provisional IRA assassinates a British Army officer at his home near Otterburn Army Base in Northumbria, England.

May 2, 1974: The Provisional IRA attacks an Ulster Defence Regiment base in Clougher, County Tyrone with machine guns and RPGs, killing Private Eva Martin. She is the first female UDR soldier killed in combat.

June 17, 1974: The Provisional IRA bombs the Houses of Parliament, injuring 11 and damaging the building.

October 5, 1974: The Balcombe Street Gang, an England-based unit of the Provisional IRA, bombs two pubs in Guildford, England , killing 5 and injuring at least 65.

November 7, 1974:The Provisional IRA bombs the Kings Arms pub in Woolwich, England killing 2 and injuring 35.

November 21, 1974: The Provisional IRA bombs two pubs in Birmingham, England killing 21 and injuring 182.

September 1, 1975: A group calling itself "South Armagh Republican Action Force" shoots up an Orange Order meeting hall in Tullyvallen, Northern Ireland, killing 5 and injuring 7. This name may have been a cover name for the Provisional IRA, or perhaps a united front between it and the INLA.

September 5, 1975: The Balcombe Street Gang bombs a Hilton hotel in London, England, killing two and injuring 63.

October 9, 1975: A Balcombe Street Gang member throws a bomb originally intended for the London Ritz Hotel at a bus stop nearby, killing one and injuring 20.

November 12, 1975: The Balcombe Street Gang throws a bomb at an oyster bar in London, killing 1 and injuring 15.

November 18, 1975: The Balcombe Street Gang bombs a restaurant in London, killing 2 and injuring 23.

December 6-12, 1975: The Balcombe Street Gang holds a couple hostage near their hideout in Marylebone, and are arrested, ending their London bombing campaign.

January 5, 1976: The SARAF kills 10 Protestant workers on a bus in Kingsmill, County Armagh.

March 15, 1976: A Provisional IRA member bombs a train, wounding 8 passengers. Following the explosion, he shoots two people trying to apprehend him, killing one and injuring the other.

June 25, 1976:The SARAF commits a shooting at the Store Bar in Templepatrick, County Antrim, killing 3 Protestant civilians and injuring 6.

July 21, 1976: A landmine planted by the Provisional IRA in Sandyford, Ireland detonates, killing British Ambassador to Ireland Christopher Ewart-Biggs and injuring his driver and another passenger.

July 30, 1976: The SARAF commits a shooting at the Stag Inn in Belfast, killing 4 Protestant civilians.

October 16, 1976: The Provisional IRA sets a booby-trap bomb at a farmhouse in Garryhinch, Ireland, killing one Garda and injuring 4. This was the first Provisional IRA attack to deliberately target Gardai Siochana.

February 17, 1978: The Provisional IRA shoots down a British Army helicopter in Jonesborough, County Armagh, killing the commander and wounding two other passengers. Hours later the Belfast Brigade firebombs the La Mon Hotel in Comber, County Down, killing 12 and injuring 30(all Protestant).

December 21, 1978: Provisional IRA members in an improvised armored van fire on British soldiers investigating their vehicle in Crossmaglen, County Armagh. 3 soldiers are killed.

August 29,1979: The Provisional IRA detonates roadside bombs on the road to Narrow Water Castle near Waterpoint, County Down, killing 18 British paratroopers, wounding 20, destroying a troop transport, and damaging a helicopter. This was the worst single-incident loss of life for the British Army during the Troubles. On the same day, the South Armagh Brigade detonates a radio-controlled bomb on a fishing boat belonging to Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, killing him, his son-in-law's mother and two of his grandsons off Classiebawn Castle near Mullaghmore, Ireland.

January 17, 1980: Provisional IRA volunteer Kevin Delaney prematurely detonates a bomb on a train in Dunmurry, County Antrim, killing himself and two civilians.

August 16, 1980: The Provisional IRA accidentally shoots a Catholic civilian during a sniper attack on an RUC patrol in Belfast.

October 13, 1980: Garda Seamus Quaid is shot by Provisional IRA volunteers after stopping their car in Cleariestown, Ireland.

October 27, 1980: 6 Provisional IRA prisoners and 1 INLA prisoner go on hunger strike for more privileges in prison.

January 21, 1981: The Provisional IRA bombs Tynan Abbey, the residence of retired Ulster Unionist Party politician Norman Stronge. The house is destroyed and Stronge is killed along with his son James.

February 6, 1981: The Provisional IRA bombs a coal ship, the Nelly M, while it is at anchor in Lough Foyle near County Londonderry. The ship sinks, but no fatalities result as the crew are evacuated.

March 1, 1981: Bobby Sands and other Provisional IRA prisoners begin a hunger strike. Later, Sands is elected MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

July 17, 1981: 7 Provisional IRA volunteers ambush a British Army observation post in Glasdrumman, County Armagh. One British soldier is killed and one wounded.

November 14, 1981: The Provisional IRA assassinates UUP MP Robert Bradford at a community center in Belfast.