The Real IRA and the Royal Wedding

April 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Oh, dear God. British security officials are apparently afraid that the “Real” IRA is going to try to attack the Royal Wedding this week, in part due to its proximity to Easter, a high point on the Irish commemorative calendar. The first real salvo of the wars in Ireland was fired over Easter 1916, as the Irish Republican Brotherhood seized the General Post Office in central Dublin and proclaimed the Irish Republic. Indeed, today marks the 95th anniversary of The Rising, which was put down in brutal fashion by the British in less than a week. Nevertheless, 1916 has long held a special place in Irish memory. And 5 May marks the 30th anniversary of the death of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands inside the Maze Prison.

The Real IRA (RIRA) grew out of the Provisional IRA (Provos), which carried out much of the activities of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, in 1997. The leadership of the RIRA, which included Bobby Sands’ sister, was frustrated with the Provos’ co-operation with the peace process in Northern Ireland. It was the RIRA which carried out the Omagh bombing of 15 August 1998, the single most deadly attack of the Troubles, killing 29 and injuring over 200 others. Since then, the RIRA has been somewhat ambivalent. Due to the outcry over Omagh, the RIRA was forced to declare a ceasefire in September 1998. This lasted two years.

The RIRA was unwilling to cause further deaths in Northern Ireland, no doubt worried about the bad PR that would result from such incidents, and instead focused its attention on England. The most significant of these events was the shooting of a rocket grenade at MI6 headquarters in September 2000. After a brief fallow period, the RIRA has continued to carry out attacks in both Northern Ireland and England since, as recently as last autumn.

It’s in this context that news that British intelligence officials are telling reporters that they have information that the RIRA is seeking to expand its base of operations from Northern Ireland to England seem odd. Indeed, Ben O’Loughlin at the Duck of Minerva wonders, amongst other things, that if British intel had information that an attack by the RIRA (or anyone for that mater) on the Royal Wedding, would it be made public in the first place?


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