History Assignment: Terrorism in the 20th century

By Luke Styles and Tom Nicol


Terrorist group Studied Irish Republican Army:


We have set out to investigate the Irish Republican Army to further understand their aims as an organization. We decided to investigate this group because of their deep history that has shaped the opinions that surround their cause. We are aiming to examine if they were in fact freedom fighters or terrorists. To come to a conclusion on our findings we put down some enquiry questions to assist our Historiography.

1.) Is the IRA a terrorist group?

2.) What were/are the IRA’s main aims?

3.) Did the IRA’s fundamental aims continue until the end of the 20th century?

4.) What is the significance of Easter to the IRA?

5.) Are their actions seen as beneficial to the Irish nationals?


The Irish Republican Army Establishment Over View

Ireland was conquered by the british in the early 1600th century the majority original inhabitants were catholics, that had resides their before the British invasion. The Protestants began to give their teachings of God to all residence of Ireland this created unbounded tensions. Ireland officially became part of Britain in 1801 and Original Irish settlers did not think this was in the best interests of Ireland, but they really were not in a position to negotiate with the United Kingdom.

Commonly Known as the IRA, it was officially established in 1913 with the intention being, revolution against the Irish state which was under British control at the time. The Easter rising was an action by the IRA in 1916 which the IRA succeeded in creating uproar among Ireland. Recognition was acknowledged to the IRA and they unofficially became the army of the “declared” Irish republic. The Easter uprising was ultimately a loss to the volunteers of the IRA because the British control of the situation, but it gave the IRA a vision of what sort of devastation they could cause in the future.

1919 changed the way Irish Men felt about Ireland, and nationalism became abundant and large amounts became members of the IRA. These new members began a guerrilla war against the British occupiers. This battle was to be known as the “Irish war of Independence.” The original IRA split after signing a treaty with the British in 1921 to bring an end to the bloodshed. The founder of the IRA, Michel Collins, agreed to sign this treaty and lay down the IRA’s arms and give them to the British. Irish people had become accustomed to the IRA and did not comply, and, in fact, continued the fight between 1922 -23, with the intention of creating a fully independent Ireland free of traitors and British, and also attempting to re-establish the Irish republic, which was Briefly founded in 1919. The IRA continued to 1969 where it abolished its organization, Splinter groups like the Provisional IRA or commonly just the "IRA" were to soon take the fight to a new Level.

IRA army council:

The IRA army council is the decision-making body of the Provisional Irish Republican army. its ruling army council has seven members, said by the British and Irish governments to have included Gerry Adams, the current President of Sinn Fein.

IRA splinter group:

1969 saw the split of the IRA after they had agreed to recognise the Parliament in Northern Ireland. The Provisional IRA was formed as the new radical terrorist group aiming at destroying Northern Irelands parliament and the abolishment of British residences. They had subsequently taken the name of the IRA rather than the Provisional IRA. They are the area of study because they are the closest organization linking to the IRA of 1913 to 1969.

Gerry Adams speech after IRA attack his message Still (No British)

Sinn Fein:

Sinn Fein is the oldest Political party in Ireland. Founded in 1905 with Sinn Fein meaning "We our selves". The party has endured its fair share of hard times. The party currently is based in Northern Ireland and is often shunned by other political parties and peoples of Northern, because of its roots to the IRA. The party with evidence is the Diplomatic message from the IRA to say "We want the Brits out", this is evident by the way the party conducts its messages throughout Northern Ireland. Former IRA Gerry Adams who is technically to stand trial as a terrorist under British court, is the infamous leader of the party Gerry Adams still sends his endeavors of hatred through political messages aimed at the British and using Sinn Fein as a shield.

Definitions Of Terrorism

U.S. Department of Defense Definition of Terrorism

The Department of Defense Dictionary of Military Terms defines terrorism as:

“The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.”


The British Legal Definition for terrorism:

Defines terrorism

“Britain's Terrorism Act 2000 defines terrorism as an act or threat designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public; and which involves (a) involves serious violence against a person, serious damage to property, endangering a person's life, creating a serious risk to public health and safety, or is designed to seriously interfere with or disrupt an electronic system.”


Is the IRA a Terrorist group?

To depict if the IRA is an international terrorist group is difficult because, there is no internationally accepted definition for a terrorist. Under the Department of defence for the USA and the British definition for terrorism the IRA is categorized under the definitions for terrorism. It dose not specify what a terrorist is, though it dose specify what is considered a terrorist act therefore associating terrorist acts with terrorists.

The Ultimate goal of the IRA being, an end to British rule within Ireland,

as the groups main ideas soon clashed with the reality of British rule in Northern Ireland, with British rule tensions and anger was created and it was the IRA’s intentions to get global attention through acts of terrorism. The Brighton bombing was the failed assassination attempt by the IRA on the 12 October 1984, to eliminate Margaret Thatcher the prime minister of the United Kingdom.

The Brighton Bombing

If the Brighton bombing was to be carried out successfully then this would have possibly caused more problems for the IRA because of the value of their attack. In some aspects the failed assassination was good for the Irish because if this assassination may have provoked war with the current tensions.


Did the IRA's Fundamentals continue to the end of the 20th century?

They performed a number of bombing attacks in the 20th century. These bombings where carried out as a way of showing they where serious about this and were willing to do anything to achieve what they wanted. They also attemped several times to assassinate Margaret Thatcher, but where unsuccessful in these attempts.

In later years the IRA decided to stop the violent approach and began a more diplomatic strategy to get power of Ireland.

Some of the IRA’s aims have been continued in the from of a number of splinter groups such as the Provisional IRA and the REAL IRA. Who have kept the more radical approach of guerilla warefare and terrorist activities to achieve the same aims that where original established.


What Were/are the IRAs Main Aims?

From 1969- 1998 after the escalations of 1969 when the Northern Irish Catholics and northern Irish Protestants started rioted, this sparked the British defence forces to respond to the riots and the IRA tried to defend the Northern Irish Catholics and Irish nationalists.

The IRA called this the “Escalation escalation escalation” the aim was for an all out offensive to drive the British occupation from Northern Ireland and to obtain control of the Republic government and to divide Ireland into is historical regions.


The Historical regions consist of. Ulster currently Northern Ireland, Leinster, Munster and Connaught. During the late 1960s it was the aim of the IRA to divide the areas into the original historical regions. This did not follow when their ideas soon changed to the abolishment of the British peoples in Northern Ireland and the abolishment of Irish Republican government, with the proposal of a independent free nation unbound by borders.

The Struggle that the Irish peoples and the IRA suffered was difficult for both sides. The IRA wanting Ireland to be theirs and the Irish Republic government wanting to have nothing to do with the struggle that was occurring in northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland peoples did not generally like the IRA and the IRA was making it hard for the Republic of Ireland to settle down and establish a good reputation.


What Is The Significance Of Easter To The IRA?

Easter caries a large amount of sentimental value to the IRA, it marks the 24th of april 1916 as the day of independence in Ireland for the IRA, prior to this date IRA leaders had organized for shipments of weapons from Germany to resist the eminent British attack that would follow the uprising. To the disadvantage of the IRA the weapons were never to arrive, the uprising was to go ahed as planed. As the IRA staged the easter Uprising in Dublin the capital and making it clear that Ireland was theirs, but they were quickly hushed by British forces, not before IRA took over the post office and declared "the Irish Republic". The uprising that had taken place in the capital of Ireland sent a deep message to all Irish Men that change was upon them.
In 1919 the IRA that had fought for independence was named the Army of the declared Irish republic in the 1916 easter uprising. This was not to last and their title would be taken away from them. This sparked the war of independence where the IRA fought against British rule and fellow country Men opposed to the Guerrilla campaign. The significance of easter has carried throughout the IRA and found its way as a tradition of their forefathers to honor the day that they took over.


Are the IRA's actions seen as being beneficial to the Irish nationalists?

The IRA concentrates most of its work within Northern Ireland, fighting British occupation and protecting Irish nationalists. The Irish Nationalists that live in northern ireland believe that the IRA are mostly doing a good job with protecting and serving the Irish peoples. Across the border to the republic of ireland where tensions are less than Northern Ireland, the people are happy with no War and terrorist groups to make things unstable. The majority of the Republic do not want to have anything to do with the IRA and this is also reflected through the governments agreements with the UK to not interfere with the group incase of back lash by the IRA targeting Irish Republicans.

The IRA are viewed as beneficial to the Nationalists of northern ireland because of the protections that they offer within Northern Ireland. The fact that the so called Irish Nationalists, that live in Northern Ireland may become a casualty of an IRA attack proves that the actions of the IRA are not beneficial to the Irish nationalists. This is widely debated but the opinions are versatile on the matter so in some aspect you could say that the actions are beneficial to the Irish Nationalists through representation and you can argue that their actions are just terrorist acts that have no benefit to Irish Nationalists.

http://www.sinnfein.org/ Date 13/5/09


http://www.sinnfein.org/ Date 13/5/09
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinn_Féin Date 13/5/09
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shankill_Road Date 13/5/09
http://terrorism.about.com/od/whatisterroris1/ss/DefineTerrorism.htm Date 13/5/09

http://monkeysmashesheaven.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/ireland_1808.jpgDate 14/5/09

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provisional_IRA_campaign_1969- 1997#Accusations_of_sectarian_attacks
Date 19/5/09

http://www.ireland-map.co.uk/maps/regions-of-ireland.gif 20/5/09
http://www.thereareplaces.com/Guidebook/images2/ire/intmap/smreg.jpg 20/5/09

http://www.irishclub.org/images/IRELAND-MAP.jpg 21/5/09
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1916proc.jpg 21/5/09 Irish poster

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXTJ6g3no5M 22/5/09
http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/images/posters/ira/poster61r.jpg 22/5/09

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GP2Q7Eg2sNw 25/5/09
http://www.sinnfein.ie/peace/speech/36 25/5/09