The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican military organization formed in 1913 with the goal of a united Irish state. They officially disarmed in 2005 but the nationalistic ideals and passions of Irish Nationalists in Northern Ireland are very much so still present today.
Columnist Glenn Patterson made a very good point in this article, in essence the IRA is a tradition, not an army, it hasn't gone away and probably never will. This tradition lives on through the many grievances (perceived ones as well as very real ones) and ideals certain nationalist elements in Northern Ireland today still hold on to, and in that regard the IRA truly hasn't gone away.
Yet, in what generations on both sides had been raised to see as the most improbable of encounters, Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s head of state, shook hands on Wednesday with Martin McGuinness, a onetime commander of the Irish Republican Army.
Some believe that the efforts the IRA has taken in recent years demonstrate its real commitment to peace and an end to its terrorist activity. Although disarmament is a huge step forward, it remains to be seen if the IRA's non-violence pledge will be backed up with further action, and whether the organization has permanently committed to leave terrorism behind. The continued presence of loyalist paramilitary organizations, violent Republican splinter groups, and sectarian tensions have the potential to drag the IRA back into terrorism.
Bombings (particularly car bombs), assassinations, kidnappings, punishment beatings, extortion, smuggling and robberies have been conducted by the organization in Northern Ireland, Ireland, and mainland Great Britain. Although its primary targets have been the British military and police in Northern Ireland, the IRA has also carried out operations against Protestants (paramilitaries and civilians) and British government officials, police and civilians in mainland Great Britain and Europe.
Throughout its history, the IRA has been responsible for several acts of terror. In 1993, the organization was responsible for the Shankhill Road bombing, and the Manchester City Centre Bombing that injured more than 200 people.2 The IRA issued "sincere apologies and condolences" to its civilian victims before disarming in 2005.
Dissension within the IRA over support for the Northern Ireland peace process resulted in the formation of two more radical splinter groups: Continuity IRA (CIRA), and the Real IRA (RIRA) in mid to late 1990s. The IRA, sometimes referred to as the PIRA to distinguish it from RIRA and CIRA, is organized into small, tightly-knit cells under the leadership of the Army Council.
The IRA conducted attacks until its cease-fire in 1997 and agreed to disarm as a part of the 1998 Belfast Agreement, which established the basis for peace in Northern Ireland.
Sinn Féin is a 32-County party striving for an end to partition on the island of Ireland and the establishment of a democratic socialist republic. The achievement of a United Ireland is within our reach and unity offers the best future for all the people of Ireland.
Organized by Michael Collins from remnants of rebel units dispersed after the Easter Rebellion in 1916 (see Ireland), it was composed of the more militant members of the Irish Volunteers, and it became the military wing of the Sinn Féin party.
Irish Republican Army (IRA), nationalist organization devoted to the integration of Ireland as a complete and independent unit.