The paper will be presented as a fact-finding document and will present no political bias on the issues that surround the CIRA. It is the intention to inform the public on the CIRA and present a clearer picture of the threat they may pose and who their likely targets may be.
To understand the brief history of the CIRA, it is helpful to know the history of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and its political struggle for Irish nationalism. The IRA was a military organization that grew out of the Irish Volunteers, and was recognized by the Lower House of parliament as the legitimate army of the declared Irish Republic in 1919. The Irish Republic had been established as the result of the Easter Uprising in 1916, which sought to expel British rule. A group of Irish republicans led the revolt and sought to win independence through armed conflict with Britain.
Subsequent years of civil strife resulted in the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which was a compromise that established an Irish Free State within the British Empire. The resulting division between the pro-treaty supporters and the republican radicals set the stage for the Irish civil war. After suffering defeat in the civil war, the radical IRA continued to fight for an Irish Republic. They fought against the occupying British army over the next several decades using terrorist and guerrilla tactics.
The IRA maintained a lo...
Hard line republicans opposed this change and contended it was against the original constitution of the IRA and the Sinn Fein. The members that opposed the change in absenteeism policy split from the PIRA and reformed as the CIRA. This established the CIRA as the more radical splinter group and they proclaimed themselves to be the only legitimate IRA.
Though the CIRA has been in existence since 1986, it was relatively inactive until the cease-fire of 1994. The statement by the IRA said, in part, "[...] the IRA have decided that as of midnight, August 31, there will be a complete cessation of military operations. All our units have been instructed accordingly" ("Irish Republican Army"). The CIRA did not agree to abide by the cease-fire and continued its goal of uniting Northern Ireland and Ireland in a socialist republic through armed conflict. This was the beginning of the modern and visible CIRA as it exists today.
Group Leadership and Organizational Structure
There has been some confusion over the terms Continuity IRA (CIRA) and the Real IRA (RIRA). Both groups have similar political goals and both advocate violence. Neither group has agreed to abide by the cease-fire as agreed to by the PIRA. Both groups consider themselves the sole legitimate IRA. The CIRA split during the 1986 debate over absenteeism, and the RIRA was formed from radical PIRA members who dissented from the cease fire agreement. Though they have some collusion and cooperation, they operate as separate organizations, leadership, and structure.
Initially CIRA was led by Chief of Staff Daith O Conaill until his death in 1991. He was a hard line republican who had been active in the IRA for 4 decades. When he died in 1991, it was reported that an unnamed man from