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Irish Republican Army

Irish Republican Army (IRA), Irish nationalist organization opposed to British rule and committed to the unification of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The IRA evolved from militant remnants of the Irish Volunteers, who planned and fought in the Easter Rebellion (1916). Refusing to accept the separation of Northern Ireland, it became a secret terrorist organization, connected with the Sinn Fein party. Loss of popular support because of its violence and pro-German activities in World War II, and strong repressive action by the government, reduced its role until the 1960s. In 1969 the IRA split into the antiterrorist “officials” and the terrorist “provisionals,” who rely on Irish-American financial aid. The provisionals then launched a campaign of bombings and assassinations in Northern Ireland and England, intended to maintain pressure on Great Britain. IRA terrorists were responsible for the murder of Lord Mountbatten in 1979. Imprisoned IRA gunmen resorted to hunger strikes, sometimes fatal, to gain attention for their cause in 1981 and 1985. In 1998 a peace agreement was signed by Great Britain, Ireland, and the Northern Irish parties.

See also: Ireland; Sinn Féin.

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