Inside the IRA: Dissident Republicans and the War for Legitimacy

Inside the IRA: Dissident Republicans and the War for Legitimacy

Inside the IRA: Dissident Republicans and the War for Legitimacy

Inside the IRA: Dissident Republicans and the War for Legitimacy

Synopsis

Until 1969 there was only one Irish Republican Army; since then, it has splintered into The Real IRA, the Continuity IRA, the Irish National Liberation Army, the Official IRA and the Provisional IRA. Andrew Sanders explains how and why the IRA became several IRAs, analysing all the dissident factions that have emerged since the outbreak of the Troubles. The book includes extensive archival evidence and exclusive interviews with members of all dissident and mainstream republican organizations, all loyalist factions, and security force sources.

Excerpt

Dublin author Brendan Behan once quipped that the first item on the agenda of any new Irish organisation was the split. From the inception of the original IRA, which fought in the Irish War of Independence between 1919 and 1921, the history of the movement has been plagued with division. While the focus of this study is the schismatic tendency of republicanism in the latter part of the twentieth century, it is important to contextualise this factionalism alongside what went before to facilitate consideration of later splits in the movement in a comparative perspective. This will show that although splits in republicanism have been relatively common, frequently personality driven and only occasionally violent, republican division has not necessarily created groups that have emulated their predecessors. It will also enable identification of the common themes of republican division and will trace the careers of republican actors who found themselves involved in a movement that rarely spent longer than a decade without encountering the problem of dissent and division.

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) descended from the Irish Volunteers, which itself had experienced a split in 1914. Irish Parliamentary Party leader John Redmond, hopeful of the enactment of the Home Rule Act, encouraged support of the Allied war effort on the outbreak of World War I. In the face of opposition for this move, the Irish Volunteers split from the larger National Volunteers, roughly one-fifth of whose 150,000 membership joined the 10th (Irish) and 16th (Irish) Divisions of the British Army. The remainder of the movement was intended to act as a home guard for Ireland, but the British War Office was reluctant to train a movement that was largely disorganised and could not provide . . .

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