Continuity Irish Republican Army

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Continuity Irish Republican Army

Continuity Irish Republican Army


The Continuity Irish Republican Army (Continuity IRA or CIRA) is a small group of hard-core dissident Irish republicans based in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The CIRA remains true to the original principles of its founding group, the Irish Republican Army: it engages in terrorist activity in the hopes of evicting British military personnel from Northern Ireland and uniting all geographic areas of Ireland under Irish rule, severing all fealties to the United Kingdom. The CIRA remains a determined hold-out as other republican groups are disarming and committing fully to peaceful politics. It has completely rejected the full disarmament of the IRA announced in the summer of 2005. The CIRA is the armed wing of Republican Sinn Fein (RSF), a supposedly political organization which was itself designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department in July 2004. (Dhochartaigh, 2009)

The RSF and CIRA emerged in response to the moderation of the Irish Republican Army and Sinn Fein, its political wing, during the 1980s and 1990s. The break centered on the IRA's decision to accept seats won in Parliamentary elections in the Republic of Ireland, ending a decades-old policy of abstentionism. A group of dissidents, who thought the move a tacit acceptance of the legitimacy of the partition of Ireland between north and south, broke off and formed Republican Sinn Fein. The Continuity Irish Republican Army was then created as RSF's armed wing. Although Republican Sinn Fein created the Continuity IRA in 1986, the group did not become an active terrorist organization until the mid 1990s.

The CIRA has been implicated in a number of attacks in the past decade. The group is best known for conducting small bombings, most of them non-lethal, such as tossed explosives and car bombs. In addition to bombings, CIRA attacks have included robberies, kidnappings, hijackings, and assassinations. The CIRA has also been linked to extortion and other economic crimes in Belfast. 


The Irish Republican Army is a dissident republican group that fought an armed campaign over almost three decades to end British rule in Northern Ireland before renouncing violence. It regards itself as a descendant of the Irish Republican Army that fought in the Irish War of Independence in the early twentieth century.

In the 1960s, even as the activities of the old I.R.A. had dwindled, civil rights activists protested against anti-catholic discrimination in British-ruled Northern Ireland. The Royal Ulster Constabulary, the province's police force, responded aggressively and the government in London deployed the army to restore order. In 1969 the I.R.A., unsure how to respond to the escalating violence, fractured into two groups. The Marxist, Dublin-based Official IRA advocated peaceful pursuit of a united Ireland, while the Provisional I.R.A. sought the same objective through violent means. (Davies, 2009)

After the events of Bloody Sunday in 1972, when British soldiers killed 14 unarmed protestors at a rally in Londonderry, the OIRA faded while support for the Provisional I.R.A. and their campaign rocketed. Known as the 'Provos' or simply the ...
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