New Irish Republican Army

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(Óglaigh na hÉireann)
Participant in the Dissident Irish Republican campaign
Active 2012 – present
Ideology Irish republicanism, Irish republican legitimatism
Leaders Army Council
Area of operations Northern Ireland (mainly); Republic of Ireland
Strength 250–300 (as of September 2012)[1]
Opponents British government, British Army, Royal Ulster Constabulary/Police Service of Northern Ireland

The New IRA is an paramilitary organisation founded in July 2012. It was formed after the RIRA, RAAD and other small Irish republican paramilitary groups merged together.


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".[2][3]

After the merger, the media began to refer to the group as the "New IRA".[4][5][6] 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".[1] In November 2012 it claimed responsibility for shooting dead a Prison Officer near Lurgan,[7][8] the first prison officer to be killed since 1993.[9]

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.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12][13] 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.[14][15] In November 2014, a PSNI armoured jeep was hit by another 'horizontal mortar' in Derry,[16] and in Belfast a PSNI landrover was attacked with a homemade rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher.[17]

In April–May 2015, there were two Real IRA bomb attacks in Derry. One exploded at the Probation Board offices,[18] and two partially exploded at the perimeter fence of a British Army Reserve base.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] On Halloween morning, three men were arrested and charged with IRA membership in addition to firearm offences.[22] In November, a PSNI vehicle in Belfast was riddled with automatic gunfire, fired from an AK-47.[23] On Christmas Day in North Belfast, police came under fire again but were not injured. The attacker was charged with attempted murder.[24][25] 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.[26]

On 4 March 2016, a prison officer (Adrian Ismay) had a heart attack and died in a hospital. He had received serious wounds following a booby-trap bomb detonating under his van on Hillsborough Drive, East Belfast 11 days earlier. The wounds he received from the bombing were directly responsible for the heart attack that killed him. 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.[27]

In April 2016, Gardaí arrested two significant members of the New IRA and seized €10,000.[28] In April, 2016, explosives linked to the New IRA were found in Dublin and several people were questioned by police.[29] The New IRA declared that all criminals were legitimate targets after Alan Ryan's brother, Vincent Ryan, was shot dead.[30] 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.[31] 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.[32][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.[38]

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.[39]


  1. ^ a b "Tom Brady: Threat level remains severe after merger of terror groups". Irish Independent, 14 September 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  2. ^ McDonald, Henry (26 July 2012). "Republican dissidents join forces to form a new IRA". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "New IRA: full statement by the dissident 'Army Council'". The Guardian. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "Rise of the 'new IRA' and what it means for the rest of us". The Herald. 17 November 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  5. ^ McDonald, Henry (5 December 2012). "'New IRA' group blamed for killing of Dublin crime boss". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  6. ^ Deeney, Donna (11 December 2012). "Terror suspects part of new dissident group, court told". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "David Black murder: New 'IRA' group claims it murdered prison officer". BBC News, 12 November 2012.
  9. ^ "Prison officer killed in Northern Ireland motorway shooting". Reuters, 1 November 2012.
  10. ^ "Man arrested in Alan Ryan murder investigation". RTÉ. 7 September 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  11. ^ "Three charged over Peter Butterly murder". RTÉ. 9 March 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2016. 
  12. ^ "'IRA group' sent suspect packages to army offices". BBC News. 17 February 2014. Retrieved 1 September 2016. 
  13. ^ McDonald, Henry (17 February 2014). "New IRA sent bombs to army recruitment centres, Met confirms". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  14. ^ Dissident 'IRA' claims west Belfast mortar attack. BBC News. 18 March 2014.
  15. ^ Dissident 'IRA' claim 'no surprise' to security forces. BBC News. 19 March 2014.
  16. ^ "IRA warns public to stay away from PSNI targets as it launches fresh bid to kill". The Irish Mirror. 6 November 2014.
  17. ^ "Fears dissidents are upping ante as grenade launcher used in latest bid to murder police". Belfast Telegraph. 18 November 2014.
  18. ^ "‘Inadequate warning’ before Derry bomb blast". UTV News. 28 April 2015.
  19. ^ "Londonderry: Two bombs found at Army Reserve base". BBC News. 4 May 2015.
  20. ^ "Crony of terror boss Michael McKevitt among four held after big explosives seizure -". Retrieved 2015-06-19. 
  21. ^ "Explosion at army barracks was incendiary device". The Irish News. 15 August 2015.
  22. ^
  23. ^ "'IRA' claims it fired shots at PSNI car in Belfast". The Irish News. 28 November 2015.
  24. ^ "Belfast: Man charged after shots fired at police car". BBC News. Retrieved 4 March 2016. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Belfast shooting: 'Military assault rifle' used in police car attack". BBC News. Retrieved 4 March 2016. 
  27. ^ "Belfast bomb: Dissident republicans 'new IRA' claim prison officer attack". BBC News. 7 March 2016.
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ McDonald, Henry (19 April 2016). "New IRA blamed after man shot in legs in Derry". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 September 2016. 
  32. ^
  33. ^
  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. ^
  39. ^ "Cork dissident murdered: 'Beast' gunned down on street". 2016-12-08. Retrieved 2016-12-08. 
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