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Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) is a terrorist organization from the Republic of Ireland in Great Britain. It was founded in 1997 after differences emerged in the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) (Derkins 17). It is led by a council consisting of seven members. Differences in the PIRA emerged after certain leaders voted in support of a ceasefire. A section of the leaders agreed to support diplomatic peace negotiations, which was against the group’s philosophy (Derkins 20).
Those against the decision left the group and formed a clandestine faction that they named RIRA. Its members focused on fighting the British soldiers and preventing the division of Ireland into two parts (Horgan 82). RIRA resisted the division of the Republic of Ireland in order to create Northern Ireland. However, their attempts failed in 1999 when two articles of Ireland’s constitution were amended in order to facilitate the creation of Northern Ireland (Derkins 22). Although the group failed in its attempt to stop this from happening, it continues to be a huge stumbling block to peace initiatives in the country.
RIRA uses terrorist strategies such as bombings, gun attacks, and detonation of grenades to fight their opponents. Its main targets are the British soldiers and security agencies in Northern Ireland (Derkins 34). RIRA has taken responsibility for numerous bomb attacks that have occurred in England and Northern Ireland in recent years (Derkins 39). The group’s main tactic involves altering development by destroying investments and businesses that support the economies of its opponents (Horgan 100).
Ideology, philosophy, and areas of operations
The mission of RIRA is to protect the sovereignty of the Republic of Ireland (English 209). The group’s main motivation is a desire to see a united and peaceful country whose citizens are not being oppressed by anyone. The United Kingdom and the United States of America classify RIRA as a terrorist group. The reason for this is that it achieves its goals and perpetuates its ideologies through violence. The group has, on several occasions, been found guilty of engaging in bomb attacks, armed robberies, assassinations, and kidnappings, among others (Horgan 106).
Occasionally, the faction uses the aforementioned means to fight for the rights of the Irish people. RIRA believes that the sovereignty of the Irish people is highly compromised by the presence of British soldiers in Northern Ireland (English 220). It believes that the soldiers work closely with police officers and religious leaders to gain support and sympathy from people. This kind of displeasure by RIRA is often expressed by targeting civilians in their bomb attacks, as witnessed in the 1998 attack in Omagh. Studies show that the attack killed 29 people and injured several others (Derkins 45).
RIRA’s leaders argue that their activities are done in the spirit of liberating their country from oppression (Derkins 47). It operates mainly in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and Great Britain. Numerous attempts to have it dissolved by authorities have been initiated without success. Different authorities have tried to squash the group’s activities and efforts by jailing some members (Horgan 116). However, this has not deterred its spirit from liberating the Republic of Ireland.
One member of RIRA who was successfully convicted is Michael McKevitt. He was the founder, and his conviction seemed to work against the group. He had asked fellow group leaders to disband it (English 231). However, this never happened due to the desire of the group members to achieve their goals. RIRA members have held numerous campaigns with the aim of convincing people to support the group’s agenda of kicking British soldiers out of their country. The group has also launched numerous attacks on military barracks belonging to British soldiers in a move to limit their operations (Horgan 122).
Support and funding
Studies have established that the main source of support and funding for RIRA originated from the United States of America (Cronin 300). Although the United States currently classifies RIRA as a terrorist group, they were among the first people to sympathize with them. Studies have also shown that American influence was very prevalent in the activities of the group. Much of the funding came after differences arose following the ceasefire (English 250).
The Americans were using RIRA to pursue their own interests by funding its activities. Apart from financial support, Americans helped RIRA a lot in its activities, as they supplied weapons at competitive prices. According to experts, funding came from Boston through Irish Americans who sent money to RIRA officials under the pretense of supporting people affected by political instability (Derkins 70).
According to experts, the Irish Northern Aid Committee was responsible for organizing fundraisers for RIRA in the United States (Horgan 140). Although other countries were not comfortable with the situation in Ireland, the majority of American citizens were not moved by pleas to withdraw their government’s support. The reason for this was that Americans were benefiting economically from the business connections they had with RIRA (Cronin 156). In addition, the Americans considered the interaction as a good opportunity to settle scores with Britons, who had been their enemies for a long time.
America was the biggest sympathizer of RIRA (English 300). This sympathy intensified when Peter King, who represented the Long Island in the Congress, stayed with fellow RIRA sympathizers and supporters during a visit to the Republic of Ireland. Many citizens supported the activities of RIRA through volunteering (Horgan 151). According to experts, a big percentage of the Irish population was against the constitutional amendments that resulted in the creation of Northern Ireland. Studies have also established that RIRA received funds to run its operations through their illegal practices such as theft, collection of protection fees, and armed robberies (Cronin 166).
Dangers posed by RIRA to homeland security
According to security experts, RIRA is one of the main threats to homeland security. Recent activities in Northern Ireland suggest that although the group is not active, it is waiting to launch attacks (Blackbourn 19). In mid 2013, a series of protests against police officers in Northern Ireland were reported. Those protests were organized by Catholics and Protestants.
They reminded the world about the dark past of the country’s history and the possibility that RIRA was still powerful and influential (Blackbourn 31). Those protests came seven years after the infamous accords of 1998, which ended a series of violent activities. Since then, people in Northern Ireland have enjoyed peace until the occurrence of the aforementioned protests. Although police in Northern Ireland believe that they have managed to squash RIRA, security experts argue that it is still a threat to homeland security (Cronin 170).
Security agencies in the country should avoid the temptation of buying into RIRA’s recent commitment to the country’s political process. The government should ensure that steps are taken in order to contain the terror group and discourage it from coming back (Cronin 193). According to experts, RIRA still poses a huge threat to national security because of its philosophy.
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It still considers violence as an option for achieving their goals. Studies have established that RIRA still continues to plan attacks against its opponents in Northern Ireland, especially those who have tried to suppress its activities (Blackburn 60). The terror group still operates camps in its three areas of operation. However, reports by M15 indicate that the possible threat that RIRA poses to its opponents has weakened due to the withdrawal of the United States of America as a sympathizer and an interested party (Derkins 100). This move was a big blow to the activities and membership of the group (Cronin 230).
Recent reports indicate that the group’s current membership is below one hundred (Derkins 109). In addition, the merger between RIRA and other minority terror groups in the country weakened the group. The merger created divisions among members due to disagreements regarding the incorporation of leaders from all entities in the organization (Blackbourn 100). Experts warn that this kind of merger can cause huge threats to homeland security in the future.
All the groups that have merged to form the New Irish Republican Army are highly experienced in matters relating to terrorism and armed fighting (Derkins 113). Experts have predicted that the recent protests witnessed in Northern Ireland are likely to encourage RIRA and its affiliate groups to take advantage of the situation and therefore continue with their activities (Blackbourn 118). The group is still dangerous and poses the most threat to people in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Experts predict that the group will turn to harm innocent people if they realize that its efforts are likely to fail.
RIRA is a paramilitary group that uses terrorism as a way of unifying the Irish people. The group’s main tactic is to destroy the economic pillars of its opponents.
RIRA believes that the sovereignty of the Irish people is compromised. It limits the operations of British soldiers by attacking their barracks. Out of the thirty-two counties that made up the Republic of Ireland, six belong to Northern Ireland. Experts have predicted that it will take longer than expected for RIRA to change its ideology and take up a new one. For several years, RIRA has strongly supported the use of armed struggle as a way of liberating Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland government has a responsibility towards its citizens of ensuring that RIRA does not continue to disrupt peace and the people’s well-being. Every citizen has a right to freedom of expression, which is enjoyed only when the sovereignty of the people is uncompromised. The Northern Ireland government and the British Army should devise better strategies for addressing the threat posed by RIRA and its affiliate groups. Although reports presented by various media outlets indicate that the terror group has weakened over the years, it is crucial for the government to provide security for its citizens despite the claims. Finally, Great Britain and Northern Ireland should focus on improving their international relations in order to avoid indirect attacks by other countries.
Blackbourn, Jessie. Anti-Terrorism Law and Normalizing Northern Ireland. New York: Routledge, 2014. Print.
Cronin, Audrey. How Terrorism Ends: Understanding the Decline and Demise of Terrorist Campaigns. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2009. Print.
Derkins, Susie. The Irish Republican Army. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2003. Print.
English, Richard. Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA. London: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.
Horgan, John. Divided We Stand: The Strategy and Psychology of Ireland’s Dissident Terrorists. London: Oxford University Press, 2013. Print.