BY ROMANO MULLIN
Three out of the four dissident republican groups operating in Northern Ireland have merged under the name ‘the IRA’. The Real IRA, along with Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD), and a number of unaffiliated republicans known as Óglaigh na hÉireann made a statement to the Guardian newspaper on 26 July 2012 that revealed their merger. They also stated that they are planning to increase attacks on the security forces and targets that they regard as symbolic of British rule.
Sources informed the Guardian and a number of local media outlets that the new IRA is made up of several hundred members. They also confirmed that the Real IRA, RAAD and Óglaigh na hÉireann had ceased to exist. The new IRA reportedly has several members of the Provisional IRA in its ranks.
The merger leaves one main dissident group outside the fold – the Continuity IRA. CIRA was formed in 1986 after a split with the Provisional movement, and claimed responsibility for the murder of PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll in 2009. However the CIRA have also confirmed that they have new leadership in place and are committed to opposing the peace agreement of 1998.