chapter  28
15 Pages

“They haven’t gone away, you know”: Irish republican “dissidents” and “armed struggle”: Jonathan Tonge


The Irish Republican Army (IRA) has long been an organization prone to internal splits in its pursuit of British withdrawal from Northern Ireland and the establishment of a 32-county, united, independent Ireland. The Northern Ireland peace process and provisional IRA (PIRA) cease fi res have revived the old adage of the fi rst item on the Republican agenda being the split. Two small Republican groups, the Continuity IRA (CIRA) and the Real IRA (RIRA) emerged from the “mainstream” IRA in rejection to the constitutional and peace strategies adopted by PIRA and Sinn Féin. That such splits occurred is unsurprising, for two key reasons. First, an historically determinist view of Irish republicanism notes its tendency towards compromise and the subsequent marginalization of former “comrades”. Second, the Republican movement has always been an eclectic, noncohesive body. Within its ranks have been found, in a far from exhaustive list, militant Nationalists, unreconstructed militarists, romantic Fenians, Gaelic Republicans, Catholic sectarians, northern defenders, international marxists, socialists, libertarians and liberal Protestants.