Irish republicanism is the main goal of the paramilitary organisation who called themselves the Irish Republican Army (I.R.A), who fought for the unity and independence of Ireland from British colonisation. They believed that Britain discriminated against Catholicism, and that they attempted to diminish Irish culture and traditions. They aimed to put an end to British control over Northern Ireland and reunite Ireland as one nation.
The IRA was born in 1919, a year after the conclusion of the Great War (WWI), and the political side of the paramilitary organisation was Sinn Féin, which is translated to ‘ourselves alone’, who were the Irish nationalist party (INP).
The Anglo-Irish War was a bloody period in Ireland, and the then leader of the IRA, Michael Collins used Guerrilla tactics against the British government to negotiate a treaty. Britain announced a settlement dividing Ireland into two sections. One was the Irish free state (Eire) and the other was the province of Ulster (Northern Island) which remained under British control.
As the years passed the IRA continued their guerrilla warfare against Britain at the cost of Ireland’s embarrassment, and at one point during the height of World War II they asked Adolf Hitler for assistance to remove the British occupation from Ireland. After the war ended, in 1949 Ireland left the Commonwealth, and incidents continued to happen until the late 60s when things took a turn.
Catholics in Northern Ireland weren’t happy, and they began a civil rights campaign against the Protestant government claiming discrimination in employment, and housing. Violence ensued from the protestors and the opposition and the police presence had no effect. The IRA focused on defending Catholic communities from persecution from Protestant factions who didn’t want the Catholics in their country.
In the early 70s sections of the IRA broke away, due to differences despite them all wanting the same goal. Independence!
The ‘Provos’ section saw that the only way they could make a difference was through acts of violence, predominantly terrorism, and assassinations which they titled the ‘Long War’. They attacked mainland Europe and the British Isles and the death toll is estimated at around 2,000.
The Provos gained support from the Irish American organisation called ‘NORAID’ (Irish Northern Aid Committe). They were accused of providing the IRA with weapons to fight against British forces, but they’ve adamantly denied this. They raised millions of dollar through fund raising events and donations, and a vast number of the Boston Irish pledged huge support. I don’t care who you are, and what you believe, you don’t donate money to a terrorist organisation who’s using the money to buy guns and Semtex to kill innocent civilians!
“Murderous attacks included the Guildford pub bombing (5 dead, 54 injured), the Woolwich pub bombing (2 dead, 28 injured), and the Hyde Park and Regents Park bombings in 1982 in which the IRA attacked a parade, killing 11 soldiers and injuring 50 other people.” – Security News Desk
Bloody Sunday was a demonstration in Londonderry on Sunday, January 30th, 1972. Despite being peaceful, the demonstration was illegal and involved 10,000 matching for the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association who marched toward the guildhall in the city. As they marched they reached military barriers which redirected them into the path of British Paratroopers, and some of the protesters threw stones, and the paratroopers retaliated with rubber bullets. The Saville Report (who investigated the day) agreed that soldiers used excessive force, which eyewitnesses claimed involved beatings of civilians with rifle butts and death threats.
At one point paratroopers took up position at one of the barricades and began shooting, hitting seven people, of which six died. As people began to run away, the paratroopers continued firing hitting people in the backs as they fled, killing more. In total 28 people were shot, and 14 of them were killed, including children. The Saville report concluded that the civilians posed no immediate threat and the actions were unjustified.
The same Battalion were involved in the Ballymurphy Massacre that happened several months before, and also involved in Shankill shooting later in 1972.
Later in the year the IRA secretly met with the British government to discuss peace, but the talks failed as they couldn’t come to an agreement. Two years later they try again and agree on a ceasefire, this lasted just six weeks.
A decade later three IRA members were killed by the SAS in Gibraltar, and it’s claimed they were unarmed, which made the IRA furious.
The funeral of the IRA members takes place several days later in Belfast and during the procession two undercover British soldiers accidentally drove by and they were immediately surrounded by a crowd, who dragged them out of the car, savagely beat them, and murdered them by gunshot.
“Corporal Wood was shot six times: twice in the head and four times in the chest. He had also been stabbed four times in the back of the neck. Howes was shot five times: once in the head and four times in the body. Each also had multiple injuries to other parts of their bodies” – Wikipedia
In 1994 the IRA announced a ceasefire, with a complete end to paramilitary operations, but it lasts just two years, and in 1997 Britain meet with Sinn Féin to discuss the Good Friday agreement, and in 2005 the IRA formally laid down their arms after decades of terror and violence.
“The leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann has formally ordered an end to the armed campaign. All IRA units have been ordered to dump arms.” The full IRA statement