A collection of radical left-wing groups opposed to British rule of Northern Ireland and critical of the political establishment, including the nationalist-focused Sinn Fein, have merged to reclaim the banner of the Irish Republican Army and are threatening violence against police.
The union of vigilantes recognized by the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland as terrorists promises to renew the bloody conflict between Irish nationalists and the British-dominated government.
A peace accord signed in April 1998 known as the “Good Friday Agreement” tentatively ended armed conflict between Republican paramilitary groups and the government. The recent announcement marks the first time since the agreement that a majority of the dissident forces have come together.
The new organization, which leaders claim consists of several hundred armed dissidents, plans to attack security forces and other symbols of British presence, a person close to the group told The Guardian.
See a breakdown of the former factions that make up the new IRA here.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
In its statement the new group said: “In recent years the establishment of a free and independent Ireland has suffered setbacks due to the failure among the leadership of Irish nationalism and fractures within republicanism.” This is a reference to the split between hardline republicans opposed to the peace settlement and Sinn Féin, which has followed a political strategy. Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin, Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, was a leading figure in the Provisional IRA
In a clear dig at Sinn Féin’s participation in the power-sharing executive with unionists, the dissidents’ statement said: “The Irish people have been sold a phoney peace, rubber-stamped by a token legislature in Stormont.”
It said that the “necessity of armed struggle in pursuit of Irish freedom” against what it described as “the forces of the British crown”, would only be avoided by the removal of the British military presence in Northern Ireland. It demanded “an internationally observed timescale that details the dismantling of British political interference in our country”.