IRA Army Council


IRA Army Council

The IRA Army Council is the decision-making body of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, more commonly known as the IRA, a paramilitary group dedicated to bringing about the end of the Union between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Its ruling army council has seven members, said by the British and Irish governments to have included Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Féin.

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Background

The IRA is a proscribed organization under the terms of the Offences Against the State Acts in the Republic of Ireland and under equivalent anti-terrorist legislation in the United Kingdom, making membership of it a criminal offence. In the Republic, conviction for membership is possible in the Special Criminal Court, where three judges hear cases without a jury, on the evidence of a Garda superintendent or higher rank, and carries a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment.

Senior members of Sinn Féin, some of whom have sat on the army council according to the British and Irish governments, together with IRA members not known to be involved in illegal activities, have been effectively immune from prosecution in recent years in order to enable progress in the peace process.

On 14 January, 2005, Martin Ferris (Sinn Féin party, TD for North Kerry) was accused of being a member of the IRA army council in an article in the Irish Times written by journalist Kevin Myers. In the same article, Myers also accused members of Sinn Féin who had visited Downing Street in December 2004, which included Gerry Adams, of sitting on the army council.

On February 20, 2005, Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell publicly named Gerry Adams, Martin Ferris, and Martin McGuinness MP, Sinn Féin's chief negotiator, as members of the army council during a radio interview. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1418906,00.html The Guardian] , "Minister accuses Adams of IRA role", 2005-02-21] The three men issued a statement the next day denying the charge. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Northern_Ireland/Story/0,2763,1419862,00.html The Guardian] , "We are not IRA members, Sinn Féin leaders insist", 2005-02-22]

On 27 July, 2005, Michael McDowell expressed his belief that Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Martin Ferris had recently (i.e. within the previous few days) left the IRA army council. However he also claimed that it was his opinion that this by itself did not necessarily amount to a permanent split between the two organisations.

Membership

In 1985, "The Sunday Times" named Thomas "Slab" Murphy as a prominent IRA member. Although Murphy denied the allegation, in 1998 he lost his resulting libel case against the newspaper.

At the General Army Convention in May 2005, "The Sunday Times" reported that following changes were made to the IRA Army Council: [ [http://women.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2091-1592812,00.html Hardliners go in big IRA shuffle] — "The Sunday Times" article, 1 May 2005]
*Bernard Fox replaced Brian Keenan
*Brian Arthurs and Sean Murphy were named as possible replacements for Gerry Adams
*Martin Lynch replaced Martin McGuinness
*Martin Ferris was also reported to have stepped down

"The Sunday Times" reported in July 2005 that security sources believed that the current army council consisted of: [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2091-1706378,00.html De Chastelain extends stay to await IRA move] — "The Sunday Times" article, 24 July 2005]
*Thomas "Slab" Murphy, chief of staff
*Brian Arthurs - Commander, Provisional IRA East Tyrone Brigade
*Bernard Fox, a former hunger striker (on 24 September 2006, "The Sunday Times" reported that Fox had resigned from the Army Council) [Liam Clarke, [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-2372287,00.html "Key members quit Sinn Fein over controls"] , "The Sunday Times", 24 September 2006]
*Sean "Spike" Murray from Belfast
*Martin Lynch: Adjutant-general, an Adams loyalist from Belfast [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1442540,00.html MI5 boss admits bugging Adams] — "The Sunday Times" article, 16 January 2005]
*Brian Gillen, from Belfast

ee also

* List of IRA Chiefs of Staff
* Continuity Army Council

References

*"A Secret History of the IRA", Ed Moloney, 2002. ISBN 0-393-32502-4
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1418906,00.html "Irish minister says Adams is an IRA leader"] by Angelique Chrisafis, "The Guardian", February 21, 2005
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Northern_Ireland/Story/0,2763,1419862,00.html "We are not IRA members, Sinn Féin leaders insist"] by Angelique Chrisafis, "The Guardian", February 22, 2005


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