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Continuity Irish Republican Army

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Continuity Irish Republican Army

The Continuity Irish Republican Army or Continuity IRA (CIRA) is an

See also

  1. ^
  2. ^ Sutton Index of Deaths. CAIN.
  3. ^ J Bowyer Bell, The Secret Army: The IRA, Poolbeg, revised third edition, Dublin, 1997, ISBN 1-85371-813-0
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Essentially since the spring of 1972, the crucial player in the armed struggle has been the Provisional IRA—now the IRA. (Authors Italics) J. Bowyer Bell, IRA: Tactics & Targets, Poolbeg, First Published 1990, Reprinted 1993, This Edition 1998, Dublin, ISBN 1-85371-603-0.
  6. ^ Robert White, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, The Life and Politics of an Irish Revolutionary, 2006, p. 309.
  7. ^ Robert White, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, the Life and Politics of an Irish Revolutionary. 2006. Indiana University Press. p310
  8. ^ Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, Dilseacht, The Story of Comdt. General Tom Maguire and the Second (all-Ireland) Dáil, 1997, pp. 65–66.
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^
  11. ^ J. Bowyer Bell, The Secret Army, The IRA, Poolbeg, revised third edition, Dublin, 1997, ISBN 1-85371-813-0, p. 575.
  12. ^ Robert W. White, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, The Life and Politics of an Irish Revolutionary, 2006, p. 310.
  13. ^ J Bowyer Bell, The Secret Army, The IRA, Poolbeg, revised third edition, Dublin, 1997, ISBN 1-85371-813-0
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^ See text of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh's 2005 Bodenstown oration
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ US Department of State, Office of Counterterrorism Fact sheet 2005
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Final Salute to Comdt-General Tom Maguire", Saoirse, Feabhra-February 1994, p. 2; see also, Robert White, Ruairi O Bradaigh, the Life and Politics of an Irish Revolutionary. 2006. Indiana University Press, pp. 323–24.
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ a b Eighth Report of the Independent Monitoring Commission, 1 February 2006
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^ RTE web site


The CIRA are depicted in extortion rackets on pubs and criminal gangs in Dublin.[42]

In popular culture

In 2013 former CIRA member Kieran McManus was shot dead by the CIRA in West Belfast. In April 2014 a former leading member of the Belfast Continuity IRA who had been expelled from the organisation, Tommy Crossan, was shot dead.[41]

In July 2012 the CIRA announced it had a new leadership after expelling members who had been working against the organisation.[40]

In June 2011, Liam Kenny, a member of the Limerick-based breakaway Continuity IRA faction, was murdered, allegedly by drug dealers, at his home in Clondalkin, West Dublin.[38] On 28 November 2011 an innocent man was mistakenly shot dead in retaliation for the murder of Liam Kenny. Limerick activist Rose Lynch (a member of the same breakaway Continuity IRA faction based in and led from Limerick) pleaded guilty to this murder at the Special Criminal Court and was sentenced to life imprisonment.[39]

In July 2010, members of a "militant Northern-based faction within the CIRA" led by a well-known member from south Derry claimed to have overthrown the leadership of the organisation. They also claimed that an Army Convention representing "95 per cent of volunteers" had unanimously elected a new 12-member Army Executive, which in turn appointed a new seven-member Army Council. The moves came as a result of dissatisfication with the southern-based leadership and the apparent winding-down of military operations. A senior source from RSF said: "We would see them [the purported new leadership] as just another splinter group that has broken away."[37]

In 2007, the Continuity IRA was responsible for shooting dead two of its members who had left and attempted to create their own organisation. Upon leaving the CIRA, they had allegedly taken a number of guns with them.[36] The Continuity IRA is believed by Gardaí to have been involved in a number of gangland killings in Dublin and Limerick. Recent internal feuds and splits have seen organisations such as the RCIRA (Real Continuity IRA) being formed in the Limerick area and organisations such as Óglaigh na hÉireann (which ceased operating around 2009, not be confused with another more active group, also called Óglaigh na hÉireann) and Saoirse na hÉireann, a group which also ceased around that time. An RSF member remarked that splits aren't uncommon in the Continuity IRA as some individuals think they should be in a leading position of the group.

In February 2006, the Independent Monitoring Commission claimed in a report on paramilitary activity that two groups, styling themselves as "Óglaigh na hÉireann" and "Saoirse na hÉireann", had been formed after a split in the Continuity IRA.[34] The Óglaigh na hÉireann group was responsible for a number of pipe bomb attacks on the PSNI, bomb hoaxes, and robberies. The Saoirse na hÉireann group was responsible for a number of bomb hoaxes.[34] The groups had apparently ceased operations by early 2009.[35]

In 2005, several members of the CIRA, who were serving prison sentences in Concerned Group for Republican Prisoners. Most of those who had left went back to the CIRA, or dissociated themselves from the CGRP, which is now defunct.

Internal tension and splits

On 10 March 2009 the CIRA claimed responsibility for the fatal shooting of a PSNI officer in Craigavon, County Armagh—the first police fatality in Northern Ireland since 1998. The officer was fatally shot by a sniper as he and a colleague investigated "suspicious activity" at a house nearby when a window was smashed by youths causing the occupant to phone the police. The PSNI officers responded to the emergency call, giving a CIRA sniper the chance to shoot and kill officer Stephen Carroll.[32][33]

The CIRA continued to be active in both planning and undertaking attacks on the PSNI. The IMC said they tried to create troubles to lure police forth, while they have also taken to stoning and using petrol bombs. In addition, other assaults, robbery, tiger kidnapping, extortion, fuel laundering and smuggling were undertaken by the group. The CIRA also actively took part in recruiting and training members, including disgruntled former Provisional IRA members. As a result of this continued activity the IMC said the group remained "a very serious threat".[31]

[30] The CIRA has been involved in a number of bombing and shooting incidents. Targets of the CIRA have included the

It was only after the Provisional IRA declared a ceasefire in 1994 that the Continuity IRA became active, announcing its intention to continue the campaign against British rule. The CIRA continues to oppose the Good Friday Agreement and, unlike the Provisional IRA (and the Real IRA in 1998), the CIRA has not announced a ceasefire or agreed to participate in weapons decommissioning—nor is there any evidence that it will. In the 18th Independent Monitoring Commission's report, the RIRA, the CIRA and the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) were deemed a potential future threat. The CIRA was labelled "active, dangerous and committed and... capable of a greater level of violent and other crime". Like the RIRA and Óglaigh na hÉireann, it too sought funds for expansion. It is also known to have worked with the INLA.

Initially, the Continuity IRA did not reveal its existence, either in the form of press statements or paramilitary activity. Although the [25] On 21 January 1994, on the 75th anniversary of the First Dáil Éireann, Continuity IRA volunteers offered a "final salute" to Tom Maguire by firing over his grave, and a public statement and a photo were published in Saoirse Irish Freedom.[26]


Much of its weaponry is believed to be mostly of Provisional IRA origin such as the Romanian AKM rifles the Provisional IRA managed to import from Libya. Many of these weapons can be frequently seen in Real IRA and Continuity IRA propaganda videos or photographs taken by journalists who managed to interview members of the Continuity IRA. They are in many arms dumps uncovered by British and Irish security forces.[9]

The Gardaí later discovered some of this equipment, at this stage belonging to the Real IRA, in bunkers and training camps in County Meath. Real IRA member Alan Ryan,[24] aged 19, was arrested at an underground training camp in County Meath. Ryan would later rise to become a prominent member of the Real IRA in Dublin only to be killed in a violent feud with Dublin criminals in 2012. In 2000 Croatian police stopped a truck carrying a consignment of arms believed to be destined for the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA. The footage featured in a BBC Spotlight documentary in 2003 about dissident republicans. It is believed that the Continuity IRA still holds some of the arms that managed to get through.

Like the Real IRA, the Continuity IRA still retains some weapons some of its members stole from Provisional IRA dumps after they defected. However it was believed in 1999 and 2000 that members of the Continuity IRA and members of the Real IRA traveled a number of times to Croatia in the former Yugoslavia to purchase some arms with a contact they had established. It was widely believed that some of those arms including plastic explosives such as TM-500, M70AB1s and M70AB2s (Yugoslav variants of the AK47 and AKM rifles), Czech Vz-26 sub-machine guns, RPG-18 rocket launchers and a quantity of ammunition, which they managed to smuggle safely to Ireland.


The US government suspects the Continuity IRA of having received funds and arms from supporters in the United States. Security sources in Ireland have expressed the suspicion that, in co-operation with the RIRA, the Continuity IRA may have acquired arms and material from the Balkans. They also suspect that the Continuity IRA arsenal contains some weapons that were taken from Provisional IRA arms dumps, including a few dozen rifles, machine guns, and pistols; a small amount of the explosive Semtex; and a few dozen detonators.[23]

External aid and arsenal

[22] This made it illegal for Americans to provide material support to the CIRA, requires US financial institutions to block the group's assets and denies alleged CIRA members visas into the US.[21] The CIRA is an illegal organisation under UK (section 11(1) of the

[17] The leadership of the Continuity IRA is believed to be based in the provinces of

Structure and status

According to a report in the Cork Examiner, the Continuity IRA's first chief of staff was Dáithí Ó Conaill,[14] who also served as the first chairman of RSF from 1986 to 1987. The Continuity IRA and RSF perceive themselves as forming a "true" Republican Movement.[15]

These changes within the IRA were accompanied by changes on the political side and at the 1986 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis (party conference), which followed the IRA Convention, the party's policy of abstentionism, which forbade Sinn Féin elected representatives from taking seats in the Oireachtas, the parliament of the Republic, was dropped. On 2 November, the 628 delegates present cast their votes, the result being 429 to 161. The traditionalists, having lost at both conventions, walked out of the Mansion House, met that evening at the West County Hotel, and reformed as Republican Sinn Féin (RSF).[13]

Relationship to other organisations

Thus, similar to the claim put forward by the Provisional IRA after its split from the Official IRA in 1969, the Continuity IRA claims to be the legitimate continuation of the original Irish Republican Army or Óglaigh na hÉireann.[10] This argument is based on the view that the surviving anti-Treaty members of the Second Dáil delegated their "authority" to the IRA Army Council in 1938. As further justification for this claim, Tom Maguire, one of those anti-Treaty members of the Second Dáil, issued a statement in favour of the Continuity IRA, just as he had done in 1969 in favour of the Provisionals. J. Bowyer Bell, in his The Irish Troubles, describes Maguire's opinion in 1986: "abstentionism was a basic tenet of republicanism, a moral issue of principle. Abstentionism gave the movement legitimacy, the right to wage war, to speak for a Republic all but established in the hearts of the people".[11] Maguire's stature was such that a delegation from Gerry Adams sought his support in 1986, but was rejected.[12]

Claim to legitimacy

In 2013 the Continuity IRA's 'South Down Brigade' threatened a Traveller family in Newry and it published a statement in the local newspaper. There was negotiations with community representatives and the CIRA announced the threat was lifted. It was believed the threat was issued after a Traveller feud which resulted in a pipe bomb attack in Bessbrook, near Newry. The Continuity IRA is believed to be mainly strong in the County Fermanagh - North County Armagh area (Craigavon, Armagh and Lurgan). It is believed to be behind a number of attacks such as pipe bombings, rocket attacks, gun attacks, and the PSNI claimed it orchestrated riots a number of times to lure police officers into areas such as Kilwilkie in Lurgan and Drumbeg in Craigavon in order to attack them. It also claimed the group orchestrated a riot during a security alert in Lurgan. The alert turned out to be a hoax.[9]

Although much smaller than the Real IRA, the Continuity IRA is regarded by British intelligence as "Dangerous and Capable of more violent acts". The Continuity IRA has been behind a number of attacks, including the shooting dead of PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll, who was shot dead on 9 March 2009 as he responded to a 999 call in Craigavon. He was the first police officer to be killed since the signing of the Belfast Agreement. He was killed two days after the Real IRA killing of two British soldiers outside Massereene Barracks in Antrim. In a press interview with Republican Sinn Féin some days later, regarded by some to be the political wing of the Continuity IRA, Paddy Walsh claimed these were "acts of war".


Maguire rejected Adams' supporters, supported the IRA Executive members opposed to the change, and named the new organisers the Continuity Army Council.[7] In a 1986 statement, he rejected "the legitimacy of an Army Council styling itself the Council of the Irish Republican Army which lends support to any person or organisation styling itself as Sinn Féin and prepared to enter the partition parliament of Leinster House." In 1987, Maguire described the "Continuity Executive" as the "lawful Executive of the Irish Republican Army."[8]

The Provisional IRA convention delegates opposed to the change in the constitution claimed that the convention was [6] The only IRA body that supported this viewpoint was the outgoing IRA Executive. Those members of the outgoing Executive who opposed the change comprised a quorum. They met, dismissed those in favour of the change, and set up a new Executive. They contacted Tom Maguire, who had supported the Provisionals against the Official IRA (see Irish republican legitimatism), and asked him for support. Maguire had also been contacted by supporters of Gerry Adams, then and now president of Sinn Féin, and a supporter of the change in the Provisional IRA constitution.

[5][4] The Continuity IRA has its origins in a split in the Provisional IRA. In September 1986, the Provisional IRA held a meeting of its General Army Convention (GAC), the organisation's supreme decision-making body. It was the first GAC in 16 years. The meeting, which like all such meetings was secret, was convened to discuss among other resolutions, the articles of the Provisional IRA constitution which dealt with

1986 IRA General Army Convention



  • Origins 1
    • 1986 IRA General Army Convention 1.1
  • Campaign 2
    • Claim to legitimacy 2.1
    • Relationship to other organisations 2.2
  • Structure and status 3
  • External aid and arsenal 4
    • Weaponry 4.1
  • Activities 5
  • Internal tension and splits 6
  • In popular culture 7
  • References 8
  • See also 9

To date, it has been responsible for the death of one PSNI officer.[2] However, the CIRA is not as big and has not been as active as the Real IRA and there have been a number of splits within the organisation since the mid-2000s.

Since its formation, the CIRA has waged a campaign in Northern Ireland against the British Army and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), formerly the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). This is part of a wider campaign against the British security forces by "dissident republican" paramilitaries. It has targeted the security forces in gun attacks and bombings, as well as with grenades, mortars and rockets. The CIRA has also carried out bombings with the goal of causing economic harm and/or disruption, as well as many punishment attacks on alleged criminals.

Like the Provisional IRA before it, the CIRA sees itself as the direct continuation of the original Irish Republican Army and styles itself as simply "the Irish Republican Army" in English or Óglaigh na hÉireann (Volunteers of Ireland) in Irish. It sees itself as the national army of an Irish Republic covering the whole of Ireland. The security forces initially referred to it as the "Irish National Republican Army" (INRA).

(RSF). Republican Sinn Féin and the United States. It has links with the political party [1]

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