chapter  11
13 Pages

The Provisional IRA: A case study: Charles J. M. Drake


The tradition of militant republican nationalism in Ireland dates back to the United Irishmen of the 1790s. The Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) is the result of a split in the Irish Republican Army (IRA) which occurred in 1969. Under the treaty of 1921 which ended a threeyear guerrilla war with the IRA, the British government withdrew their forces from 26 of the 32 counties of Ireland. In those 26 predominantly Catholic counties the Irish Free State was established, with the British monarch as titular head of state. In the other six north-eastern counties which overall, though not individually, had a Protestant majority, the British ruled but locally governed state of Northern Ireland was established. A civil war was waged across the 26 counties in 1922-1923, in which the Free State forces defeated the anti-treaty Republicans. Following this some of the Republicans reformed as the IRA and its political equivalent Sinn Fein. The IRA waged a sporadic terrorist campaign across Ireland to little avail. After 1948 when the Free State declared itself a republic, the IRA largely confi ned its military actions to Northern Ireland whilst maintaining its headquarters in Dublin.