Real Irish Republican Army
The Real Irish Republican Army is a paramilitary group founded by former members of the Provisional IRA before the signing of the 1998 Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement. The Real IRA is opposed to the Provisional IRA's 1997 cease-fire and acquiescence in the accord.
It originally attracted disaffected IRA members from the Republican stronghold of South Armagh, and some member in Derry. Its first leader was Michael McKevitt, a former quarter master general of the Provisional IRA, but he has since been imprisoned on charges of directing terrorism. Shortly after its formation, the Real IRA began attacks similar in nature to those conducted by the Provisional IRA prior to its ceasefire. However, it lacked a significant base, and was heavily infiltrated with informers, leading to a series of high profile arrests and seizures by British and Irish police in the first half of 1998. Despite this, the Real IRA succeeded in bombing Omagh town centre on August 15 1998, killing 29 people. This caused a major outcry in Ireland. Many of its members abandoned the organisation, and British and Irish police co-operated on an unprecedented scale to destroy the movement.
The Real IRA called a ceasefire in the winter of 1998, but this was broken after less then two years when the organisation conducted a number of attacks on the island of Great Britain, including a taxi-bomb attack on the BBC Television Centre in West London, and a rocket propelled grenade attack on the headquarters of MI6. Since then, it has become weaker and weaker. Infiltration has continued, and the movement has been unable to conduct a noticeable bomb attack. In the fall of 2003, its imprisoned leaders called for an unconditional ceasefire, citing alleged misuse of funds and the futile nature of their resistance to the British presence in Ireland.
In recent times, the Real IRA has continued to be a thorn in the side of both the British and Irish authorities. December 2004 saw 15 fire bomb attacks against premises in Belfast attributed to the breakaway faction. Many see this as a sign of growing support for the group, in light of failed attempts to rescue the Belfast peace accord.