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.
|New Irish Republican Army|
|Nua-Óglaigh na hÉireann|
|Also known as||Irish Republican Army|
|Foundation||26 July 2012|
|Dates of operation||2012 – present|
|Active regions||Northern Ireland (mainly)|
Republic of Ireland
Irish republican legitimism
|Major actions||murder, arson, terrorism|
|Size||250–300 (as of September 2012)|
|Opponents|| British Army|
Kinahan Organised Crime Group
|Battles and wars||Dissident 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".
After the merger, the media began to refer to the group as the "New IRA". 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, the first prison officer to be killed since 1993.
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. 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.
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. 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. In November 2014, a PSNI armoured jeep was hit by another 'horizontal mortar' in Londonderry, and in Belfast a PSNI landrover was attacked with a homemade rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher.
In April–May 2015, there were two Real IRA bomb attacks in Londonderry. One exploded at the Probation Board offices, and two partially exploded at the perimeter fence of a British Army Reserve base. 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. 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. On Halloween morning, three men were arrested and charged with IRA membership in addition to firearm offences. In November, a PSNI vehicle in Belfast was riddled with automatic gunfire, fired from an AK-47. On Christmas Day in North Belfast, police came under fire again but were not injured. The attacker was charged with attempted murder. 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.
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.
In April 2016, Gardaí arrested two significant members of the New IRA and seized €10,000. In April, 2016, explosives linked to the New IRA were found in Dublin and several people were questioned by police. The New IRA declared that all criminals were legitimate targets after Alan Ryan's brother, Vincent Ryan, was shot dead. 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. 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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
On 1 September 2017, the Police Service of Northern Ireland warned that the group had developed a new type of bomb.
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.
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. 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.
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". Four men were arrested in connection with the bombing. The following month, two men were shot in the city of Derry, in what was described as a "paramilitary attack" by New IRA members.
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. 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. MI5 warned that the possibility of Republicans being behind the suspicious packages as "possible". Also on 5 March, a parcel bomb was found in the Store Room of the University of Glasgow at around 11:40 am. 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.
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. Using their traditional Easter Rising commemorations various other Republican groupings including Sinn Féin and Éirígí expressly called for an end to all armed actions, while others including the 32 County Sovereignty Movement 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. 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.
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.
On 18 August 2020, ten suspects were arrested in Northern Ireland as part of an all-island operation against the New IRA. The PSNI and Gardaí joined forces for 48 hours to carry out arrests and searches. The PSNI said that officers had made a number of arrests under the Terrorism Act across Northern Ireland in relation to New IRA activities. Those arrested were held in PSNI custody suites in Belfast. The PSNI raided properties in Derry, East Tyrone and Belfast. In the Republic Gardaí raided properties in Dublin, Cork, Kerry and Laois but arrested nobody.
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