New Irish Republican Army

The New Irish Republican Army, or New IRA, is a paramilitary organisation founded in July 2012. It was formed after the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA), Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) and other small Irish republican paramilitary groups merged.[3][4]

New Irish Republican Army
Nua-Óglaigh na hÉireann
Also known asIrish Republican Army
LeadershipArmy Council
Foundation26 July 2012 (2012-07-26)
Dates of operation2012 – present
Merger ofRIRA
Active regionsNorthern Ireland (mainly)
Republic of Ireland
IdeologyIrish republicanism
Dissident republicanism
Irish republican legitimism
Major actionsmurder, arson, terrorism
Size250–300 (as of September 2012)[1]
Opponents British Army
Kinahan Organised Crime Group
Battles and warsDissident Irish Republican campaign



On 26 July 2012, it was reported that Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) and other small republican militant groups were merging with the Real IRA. As before, the group would continue to refer to itself as "the Irish Republican Army".[3][4]

After the merger, the media began to refer to the group as the "New IRA".[5][6][7] As well as RAAD, the alliance includes an east Tyrone group thought to be responsible for killing PSNI officer Ronan Kerr in 2011, and a Belfast group who badly wounded PSNI officer Peadar Heffron in 2010.


The PSNI reckoned that the new group has a membership of "between 250 and 300 military activists, backed up by associates". In November 2012 it claimed responsibility for shooting dead a Prison Officer near Lurgan,[8][9] the first prison officer to be killed since 1993.[10]


On 3 September 2012 prominent Real IRA member Alan Ryan was shot dead in Dublin. Gardaí believed that he had been involved in a feud with major crime gangs from whom he was trying to extort money.[11] Following Ryan's death an internal feud developed in the Real IRA. Ryan's replacement as leader and another associate were shot and wounded in November 2012, allegedly on the orders of the Northern leadership. In March 2013, another prominent former Real IRA member, Peter Butterly from Dunleer, was shot dead; three Dublin men, allegedly from the Alan Ryan faction, were charged with his murder and Real IRA membership.[12]

In February 2014 the group sent seven letter bombs to British Army recruitment offices in south-east England; the first time republicans had struck in Britain since 2001.[13][14] The following month, a PSNI landrover was hit by an explosively formed projectile in Belfast. A civilian car was also hit by debris, but there were no injuries. The Real IRA claimed responsibility.[15][16] In November 2014, a PSNI armoured jeep was hit by another 'horizontal mortar' in Londonderry,[17] and in Belfast a PSNI landrover was attacked with a homemade rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher.[18]

In April–May 2015, there were two Real IRA bomb attacks in Londonderry. One exploded at the Probation Board offices,[19] and two partially exploded at the perimeter fence of a British Army Reserve base.[20] Later in May, four men, one an alleged associate of Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt, were reportedly arrested during an explosives seizure by police in Northern Ireland.[21] In August, a firebomb exploded in a post van parked inside Palace Barracks, Holywood, a British military base which is home to MI5 in Northern Ireland. The firebomb destroyed the van and set nearby vehicles and garages on fire.[22] On Halloween morning, three men were arrested and charged with IRA membership in addition to firearm offences.[23] In November, a PSNI vehicle in Belfast was riddled with automatic gunfire, fired from an AK-47.[24] On Christmas Day in North Belfast, police came under fire again but were not injured. The attacker was charged with attempted murder.[25][26] Days later, on 27 November 2015, police in West Belfast came under heavy fire yet again. No officers were wounded because of the armour-plating and bullet-proof glass. The Real IRA or another dissident republican group was suspected to be behind the attack.[27]

On 4 March 2016, a prison officer (Adrian Ismay) died of a heart attack in hospital, having received serious wounds following a booby-trap bomb detonating under his van on Hillsborough Drive, East Belfast 11 days earlier. The 'New' IRA claimed responsibility and said it was a response to the alleged mistreatment of republican prisoners at Maghaberry Prison. It added that the officer was targeted because he trained prison officers at Maghaberry.[28]

In April 2016, Gardaí arrested two significant members of the New IRA and seized €10,000.[29] In April, 2016, explosives linked to the New IRA were found in Dublin and several people were questioned by police.[30] The New IRA declared that all criminals were legitimate targets after Alan Ryan's brother, Vincent Ryan, was shot dead.[31] In April 2016, the New IRA were blamed for badly injuring a man in a punishment shooting in Derry, shortly after a man had been killed by a dissident Republican attack in Ardoyne.[32] In May 2016 three men were shot in paramilitary style attacks in republican areas of Belfast during a 24-hour period, leaving two injured and one dead.[33] On 25 April a New IRA member, Michael Barr was shot dead in west Dublin. Gardaí suspected Barr was shot dead because it was believed by the Kinahan cartel he provided a “safe house” to one of the gunmen in the Regency Hotel attack. Fifteen people were arrested in Northern Ireland following a paramilitary funeral for him.[34]

The terrorist threat level in Great Britain was upgraded to "substantial" on 11 May 2016, with the New IRA's continuing threats being part of the reason by Home Secretary Theresa May and MI5.[35]

On 16 May 2016 a 'terrorist hide' was found by civilians in Capanagh Forest near Larne, Antrim, possibly belonging to the New IRA. It was a very substantial cache.[36]

In June 2016 it was revealed that a five-man New IRA hit team were in Dublin's north inner city looking to murder two leading gangsters after one of their associates was shot dead in a gangland feud. Sources said the murder squad from the North spent several days and nights looking for their targets in the streets.[37] In September 2016 a close associate of Alan Ryan, who had been arrested and imprisoned following the Stamullen raid, was sentenced to nine years' imprisonment in Belfast for possession of a sub-machine gun and ammunition, after getting off a bus from Dublin.[citation needed]

In Cork City at 5pm on 7 December 2016, former Chief of Staff of the RIRA southern command, Aidan "The Beast" O’Driscoll, was shot and killed in the street by two masked gunmen. O'Driscoll had been shot in the leg in June 2013 in what the New IRA claimed was a punishment-style shooting for "unrepublican conduct" before he had stepped-down from command in 2012.[38]

On 7 June 2017, Gardaí foiled a serious IRA bomb plot after discovering six kilos of Semtex, "enough to blow up a street".[39]

On 1 September 2017, the Police Service of Northern Ireland warned that the group had developed a new type of bomb.[40]

In December 2017, MI5 said that Northern Ireland has the highest level of terrorist activity of anywhere in Europe with attacks being disrupted weekly. Over 250 seizures, thwarted attacks, and counter-terrorist operations are reported to have been undertaken by British security services.[41]

The group remained active in 2018, with it and the Continuity IRA claiming they have no plans to announce a ceasefire along the lines of that of the ONH.[42] However, both groups have suffered major setbacks and inactivity due to feuding and heavy police intervention, and have likewise often failed to commit successful attacks due to antiquated equipment and member inexperience.

In July 2018 the New IRA claimed responsibility for a spate of gun and bomb attacks at police officers during the riots in Derry.[43]

On 19 January 2019, there was a car bomb attack at the Bishop Street Courthouse in Derry, for which the New IRA are the "main line of enquiry".[44] Four men were arrested in connection with the bombing.[45] The following month, two men were shot in the city of Derry, in what was described as a "paramilitary attack" by New IRA members.[46][47]

On 5 March 2019 at around 12:00 pm three explosive devices were found in packages that were found in Jiffy bags at Waterloo station and City Airport in London, as well as a separate package found nearby Heathrow Airport.[48] It is suspected that the New IRA is behind the attack because of several postage stamps on all of the packages that can be traced to Irish post offices.[citation needed] MI5 warned that the possibility of Republicans being behind the suspicious packages as "possible".[citation needed] Also on 5 March, a parcel bomb was found in the Store Room of the University of Glasgow at around 11:40 am.[citation needed] The West Blocks of the university were evacuated by the police and the bomb was safely detonated under a controlled explosion by a bomb disposal unit. Nobody was injured. On 11 March 2019, it was reported that a group stylising themselves as the IRA claimed to be behind the explosive devices, stating that they had sent 5 devices, but only 4 had been discovered. The fifth device was discovered on 22 March in a postal sorting office in the Irish city of Limerick. The device was addressed to Charing Cross railway station in central London.[49][50][51]

On 18 April 2019, rioting took place on the streets of the Creggan after PSNI launched a raid looking for munitions. It is believed the New IRA incited the riots; they were responsible for the fatal shooting of journalist Lyra McKee—who was not the intended victim—and later claimed responsibility and issued a statement of apology to her family and friends.[52][53][54] Using their traditional Easter Rising commemorations various other Republican groupings including Sinn Féin[55] and Éirígí[56] expressly called for an end to all armed actions, while others including the 32 County Sovereignty Movement[57] condemned the attack without adding a call for the end of violence. The Irish Republican Socialist Party cancelled its Easter Rising commemoration in Derry as a direct result of Lyra McKee's death.[58] Republican murals around the city of Derry, including the famous Free Derry Corner gable end wall, were amended over the weekend following Lyra McKee's death expressing a community desire to move away from the violence of the past and disowning the dissident groupings who desire a return to it. These events have been cited as a sign of change in attitude towards dissidents in traditionally Republican areas.[59]

On 7 June 2019, the New IRA claimed responsibility for a potentially lethal bomb discovered on 1 June fitted under the car of a police officer at a golf club in east Belfast. A cross-border investigation was launched.[60]

On 18 August 2020, ten suspects were arrested in Northern Ireland as part of an all-island operation against the New IRA.[61] The PSNI and Gardaí joined forces for 48 hours to carry out arrests and searches.[61] The PSNI said that officers had made a number of arrests under the Terrorism Act across Northern Ireland in relation to New IRA activities.[61] Those arrested were held in PSNI custody suites in Belfast.[61] The PSNI raided properties in Derry, East Tyrone and Belfast.[61] In the Republic Gardaí raided properties in Dublin, Cork, Kerry and Laois but arrested nobody.[61]

On April 21, 2021, the group said that it had planted an explosive device behind a PSNI officer's car in Dungiven. The device was made safe by the bomb disposal unit.[62]

On 17 February 2022, the group claimed responsibility for shooting a man in the legs in Strabane the week before.[63]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Brady, Tom (14 September 2012). "Tom Brady: Threat level remains severe after merger of terror groups". Irish Independent.
  2. ^ "New IRA and Continuity IRA discuss joint attacks". The Times. 10 August 2021. Retrieved 15 August 2021.
  3. ^ a b McDonald, Henry (26 July 2012). "Republican dissidents join forces to form a new IRA". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  4. ^ a b "New IRA: full statement by the dissident 'Army Council'". The Guardian. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  5. ^ "Rise of the 'new IRA' and what it means for the rest of us". The Herald. 17 November 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  6. ^ McDonald, Henry (5 December 2012). "'New IRA' group blamed for killing of Dublin crime boss". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  7. ^ Deeney, Donna (11 December 2012). "Terror suspects part of new dissident group, court told". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  8. ^ "Draft List of Deaths Related to the Conflict in 2012".
  9. ^ ""David Black murder: New 'IRA' group claims it murdered prison officer"". BBC News. 12 November 2012.
  10. ^ "Prison officer killed in Northern Ireland motorway shooting". Reuters, 1 November 2012.
  11. ^ "Man arrested in Alan Ryan murder investigation". RTÉ. 7 September 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  12. ^ "Three charged over Peter Butterly murder". RTÉ. 9 March 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  13. ^ "'IRA group' sent suspect packages to army offices". BBC News. 17 February 2014. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  14. ^ McDonald, Henry (17 February 2014). "New IRA sent bombs to army recruitment centres, Met confirms". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  15. ^ Dissident 'IRA' claims west Belfast mortar attack. BBC News. 18 March 2014.
  16. ^ Dissident 'IRA' claim 'no surprise' to security forces. BBC News. 19 March 2014.
  17. ^ "IRA warns public to stay away from PSNI targets as it launches fresh bid to kill". The Irish Mirror. 6 November 2014.
  18. ^ "Fears dissidents are upping ante as grenade launcher used in latest bid to murder police". Belfast Telegraph. 18 November 2014.
  19. ^ "‘Inadequate warning’ before Derry bomb blast" Archived 2016-03-08 at the Wayback Machine. UTV News. 28 April 2015.
  20. ^ "Londonderry: Two bombs found at Army Reserve base". BBC News. 4 May 2015.
  21. ^ "Crony of terror boss Michael McKevitt among four held after big explosives seizure -". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  22. ^ "Explosion at army barracks was incendiary device". The Irish News. 15 August 2015.
  23. ^ "Three men charged with IRA membership and firearms offences". The Irish Times. 2 November 2015.
  24. ^ "'IRA' claims it fired shots at PSNI car in Belfast". The Irish News. 28 November 2015.
  25. ^ "Belfast: Man charged after shots fired at police car". BBC News. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  26. ^ "Man arrested in north Belfast after police car is shot at on Christmas Day". Belfast Telegraph. 26 December 2015.
  27. ^ "Belfast shooting: 'Military assault rifle' used in police car attack". BBC News. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  28. ^ "Belfast bomb: Dissident republicans 'new IRA' claim prison officer attack". BBC News. 7 March 2016.
  29. ^ "€10,000 seized as two significant IRA suspects arrested in cash handover". Irish Independent. 13 April 2016.
  30. ^ "Gardaí Linking Explosives Found in Car During Rush Hour Traffic to New IRA". Archived from the original on 8 May 2016. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
  31. ^ Maher, David (2 March 2016). "Dissident republicans release chilling threat to wipe out 'all known drug dealers' after Vinnie Ryan murder". Irish Mirror.
  32. ^ McDonald, Henry (19 April 2016). "New IRA blamed after man shot in legs in Derry". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  33. ^ Buchanan, Elsie (10 May 2016). "Man dead in third Belfast shooting in 24 hours". The IUSB Preface. Archived from the original on 17 August 2016.
  34. ^ McDonald, Henry (5 May 2016). "Fifteen men arrested in Northern Ireland after paramilitary funeral". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  35. ^ "Northern Ireland terror threat level raised in Great Britain". BBC News. 11 May 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  36. ^ "Larne Capanagh Forest arms find 'one of the most significant seizures' in years". Belfast Telegraph. 17 May 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  37. ^ Foy, Ken (9 June 2016). "Missing Kinahan hitman stalked by New IRA murder squad". Irish Independent. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  38. ^ "Cork dissident murdered: 'Beast' gunned down on street". 8 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  39. ^ "Police foil 'New IRA' bomb plot as they seize enough Semtex to blow up a street". Metro. 7 June 2017.
  40. ^ "New IRA 'develops new under-car bomb'". 1 September 2017. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  41. ^ O'Connor, Niall (21 December 2017). "MI5: Terror threat in Ireland is greatest in Europe". Irish Mirror.
  42. ^ Óglaigh na hÉireann (Real IRA splinter group)
  43. ^ Young, Connla (20 July 2018). "'IRA' claims responsibility for Derry attacks". The Irish News.
  44. ^ "Police arrest further two men in connection with Londonderry car bomb attack". The Belfast Telegraph.
  45. ^ "Londonderry bomb: Four arrests over 'reckless' attack". BBC. 20 January 2019.
  46. ^ Donaghy, Gerard. "Two men shot in 'vicious' paramilitary-style attacks in Derry". The Irish Post. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  47. ^ "Two men shot in paramilitary style attacks in Derry". The Irish Times. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
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  54. ^ Lyra McKee: New IRA says its activists killed journalist The Guardian, 2019
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  57. ^ "32 County Sovereignty Movement Easter Message 2019". 2 April 2019. Retrieved 22 April 2019.[non-primary source needed]
  58. ^ "IRSP Derry cancel Easter wreath laying ceremony". 1 April 2019. Retrieved 22 April 2019.[non-primary source needed]
  59. ^ "Lyra McKee killing 'has united Derry' against New IRA terrorists". 2 April 2019. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
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  62. ^ "Dungiven bomb plot: New IRA admit responsibility for attempted attack on PSNI officer". belfasttelegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  63. ^ Young, Connla. "'New IRA' say they shot man in Tyrone". The Irish News. The Irish News. Retrieved 18 February 2022.