Most Irish people dispute the claims of more recently created organizations that insist that they are the only legitimate descendants of the original IRA, often referred to as the "Old IRA".
· The Provisional IRA (PIRA), founded in 1969 and best known for paramilitary campaigns during the 1970s-1990s
· The Official IRA, the remainder of the IRA after the Provisional IRA seceded in 1969, now apparently inactive in the military sense.
· The 'Real' IRA, a 1990s breakaway from the PIRA
· The Continuity IRA, another 1990s breakaway from the PIRA
The IRA symbol showed up the first time during the battle of Lime Ridge (June 2. 1866). The Fenians were then organised in so called "IRA regiments".

The playwright Brendan Behan once said that the first issue on any Irish agenda was a split. For the IRA, that has constantly been the case. From the Old IRA, the paramilitary army of the Irish Republic came a minority who formed the Anti-Treaty IRA, which became the Official IRA, from which broke away the Provisional IRA. It then had its own breakaways, namely the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA, each claiming to be successor of the Army of the Irish Republic. Most Irish people, however, disagree with their claims, and these groups do not enjoy the level of support the Provisionals had.

Later IRAs
Here in more detail is a representation of a genealogical tree of Irish nationalist movements:
Old IRA / Sinn Féin - fought in the War of Independence 1920-1921

That part of Old IRA/Sinn Fein organized within Northern Ireland not included within the Free State (see below).

The initial Free State government who accepted the compromise of the 1921 treaty which established the Irish Free State. Eventually became the modern-day **Fine Gael** **Party** of the Republic of Ireland

That part of Sinn Féin / IRA organized within the twenty six counties that became the Free State rejected the compromise of the 1921 treaty with Britain and under Eamon de Valera fought the Irish Civil War against the Free State 'National Army'.

Fianna Fáil - some years after losing the Civil War a faction of Sinn Féin led by de Valera returned to the democratic fold as the Fianna Fáil Party which remains one of the two largest parties in the Republic.

The remainder of Sinn Féin / IRA together with that part of Old IRA/Sinn Fein organised within Northern Ireland carried on low level sporadic paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland. Over the decades, it became more leftist.

By the 1960s, having waged a disastrous 'border campaign of violence', Sinn Féin moved from a republican war vision to a marxist class struggle. With the outbreak of The Troubles Sinn Féin, or as it came to be called after the formation of the Provisional IRA and Provisional Sinn Féin, **Official IRA** / **Official** **Sinn Féin** found itself sidelined because of its inability/unwillingness to defend Catholic areas of the Six Counties from Orange mobs. Over time the Official IRA faded away, the political side discarded its nationalism and became in succession **Sinn** **Féin the Workers Party**, and the **Workers** **Party**, most of whose members left to form the **Democratic** **Left** the most leftist of the parties in the Republic with seats in the Dáil Éireann (though also operating in Northern Ireland). Ultimately the Democratic Left merged into the Labour Party. After the Official IRA's 1972 ceasefire it and Official Sinn Féin suffered a split in 1974 leading to the formation of the extreme left wing **Irish** **National Liberation Army** and the Irish Republican Socialist Party, led by Séamus Costelloe (later assassinated by the Official IRA during a bloody feud). The INLA was known for a series of internal feuds and some of the more sectarian killings from the nationalist side.

The more traditionalist republican members split off into the Provisional IRA / Provisional Sinn Féin, which operated mostly in Northern Ireland, using violence against the unionists and British, though they also killed members of the Irish army and the Garda Síochána (the Irish police force). A further split occurred in 1986, when the Southern Leadership of Provisional Sinn Féin (as the political wing of the Provisional IRA tended at the time to be called), under Ruairí Ó Brádaigh was deposed and replaced by a new Northern leadership under Gerry Adams. The deposed elements, who took a hardline republican stance, and opposed Provisional Sinn Féin's decision to abandon abstentionism and enter Dáil Éireann, set up a rival party and military wing, called Republican Sinn Féin and Continuity IRA.
Members who did not accept the peace process split off to form groups such as the **Real IRA** .

Provisional IRA / Provisional Sinn Féin (now more generally referred to simply as Sinn Féin and the IRA, moved to a less militarist and more politically-led position, which ultimately produced the Hume-Adams report and the peace process.

Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) synonyms: 'Officials'; 'Stickies'

The Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) was the term given to the remnants of the IRA following the split in 1970 when many members left to form the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA). At the time of the split Cathal Goulding was Chief of Staff of the IRA. Goulding was trying to make the IRA a more political organisation and in particular to end the abstentionist policy. While initially the OIRA was the larger of the two groups the PIRA quickly gained new recruits, and some former members of the OIRA, to become the largest Republican paramilitary group in Ireland. There were a number of feuds between the two groups in the early 1970s. The OIRA called a ceasefire in 1972 and has been largely inactive since that date. The OIRA did however engage in a feud in 1975 with the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP). There have also been allegations during the 1980s and 1990s that the OIRA was still in existence. The alleged connections between the OIRA and the Workers' Party (WP) in early 1992 led to a split in the WP and the formation of Democratic Left. During the period 1969 to 1979 the OIRA killed 49 people of whom 13 were members of the security forces. During the same period approximately 21 members of the OIRA were killed.

Membership: The OIRA called a ceasefire in 1972. There have been a number of incidents since then attributed to the 'Officials' and it is possible that a small number of people still belong to a remnant of that organisation (the Irish Times, on 14 May 1998, referred to this remnant as 'Group B' but the term was coined as far back as the 1970s).

Arsenal: The OIRA may still possess 300 - 400 rifles; a small number of heavy machineguns; and dozens of hand guns.

Irish Republican Army (IRA)

The main Republican paramilitary group involved in the Northern Ireland conflict. The central aim of the IRA is to end British control of Northern Ireland and to achieve the reunification of the island of Ireland. The 'Irish Republican Army' dates from the meeting of the first Dáil on 21 January 1919 and was the name that was adopted by the Irish Volunteers who had taken part in the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916. Following independence in the south of Ireland the IRA re-emerged at various times to conduct campaigns to try to end British rule in Norther Ireland. Following the failed 'Border Campaign' (1956-1962) there were attempts to move the IRA towards more political agitation rather than military operations.

The Provisional IRA was established when the IRA split in December 1969 between the 'Officials' and the 'Provisionals'. Both groupings had a military wing, the 'Official' and 'Provisional' IRA, and both had a political wing, the 'Official' and 'Provisional' Sinn Féin (SF). The 'Official' IRA declared a ceasefire in the summer of 1972 and from then on the term IRA was used for the organisation that had developed from the 'Provisional' IRA. From a splinter group of a small and badly equipped paramilitary grouping the 'Provisional' IRA developed into a comparatively large, well financed, well equipped guerrilla organisation which has been involved in, what it calls, an 'armed campaign' for almost three decades. This campaign has involved violent attacks on the security system in the region and on the civilian population. According to Sutton (1994) the IRA was responsible for the deaths of 1,755 people between July 1969 and December 1993. During the same period the IRA lost approximately 243 members.

As part of the 'Peace Process' the IRA called a ceasefire on 31 August 1994. However, because of what it considered a lack of political movement in the peace process the IRA resumed its 'armed campaign' on 9 February 1996. After the election of a Labour government to Westminster a number of developments led to the resumption of the IRA ceasefire on 20 July 1997. The IRA considered that the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) "document clearly falls short of presenting a solid basis for a lasting settlement" (IRA statement 30 April 1998) however the IRA did not reject Agreement. In the years since the GFA the IRA has made it clear that its ceasefire remains in place although it has been alleged by critics that it has still been involved in paramilitary activity of various kind. But this is something the movement has always denied and on numerous occasions it has repeated that the ceasefire called in July 1997 remained intact. For a number of years after the GFA it refused to decommission its weapons; an act which it considered to be a surrender to the British government. However, on 23 October 2001 the IRA announced that it had begun a process to put its arms beyond use. . This was then repeated on two further occasions on 8 April 2002 and 21 October 2003.

Membership: It is thought that membership of the IRA peaked at around 1,500 in the mid-1970s and it is believed that at the time of the 1994 ceasefire membership was approximately 500 with a smaller number being 'active' members. The reduced membership coincided with the adoption by the IRA in 1979 of a 'cell structure' in an attempt to counter security force penetration through the use of informers. In addition to members in Ireland the IRA also had one or two 'active service units' in Britain and mainland Europe.

Arsenal: After its formation the (Provisional) IRA quickly became the most heavily, and best, armed of the various paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland. The IRA may have: 600 AK-47 / AKM assault rifles (believed to be Czech and Romanian versions of the AK-47 rifle smuggled from Libya between 1984 and 1987); 60 Armalite AR-15 assault rifles; 12 7.62mm FN MAG medium machine guns; 20 12.7mmx107mm DShK heavy machine guns; 2 to 3 SAM-7 anti-aircraft missiles; 40 RPG-7 rocket launchers; 40 Webley .455 revolvers; 6 LPO-50 flame throwers; 600 Assorted detonators; 3 tonnes of Semtex (commercial high explosive.) The IRA has always made use of 'home-made' weapons. These weapons became more sophisticated and more powerful over the years and included home-made mortars and fertiliser-based car and lorry bombs. Often these bombs contained hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of pounds of home-made explosives. Several large home-made bombs have been used in the centre of London and Manchester causing hundreds of millions of pounds of damage.