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Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA)
Continuity Army Council IRA
Óglaigh na hÉireann
(Volunteers of Ireland)


Terrorist splinter group formed in 1994 as the clandestine armed wing of Republican Sinn Fein (RSF), which split from Sinn Fein in 1986. “Continuity” refers to the group’s belief that it is carrying on the original IRA goal of forcing the British out of Northern Ireland. Cooperates with the larger Real IRA. Designated under Executive Order 13224 in December 2001.


CIRA has been active in Belfast and the border areas of Northern Ireland where it has carried out bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, extortion, and robberies. On occasion, it has provided advance warning to police of its attacks. Targets include British military, Northern Ireland security targets, and loyalist paramilitary groups. Unlike the Provisional IRA, CIRA is not observing a cease-fire. CIRA continued its bombing campaign in 2003 with a string of low-level improvised explosive device attacks. A senior CIRA member was arrested, and two powerful RIRA bombs were seized in a June 2003 raid.


Fewer than 50 hard-core activists. Eleven CIRA members have been convicted of criminal charges and others are awaiting trial. Police counterterrorist operations have reduced the group’s strength, but CIRA has been able to reconstitute its membership through active recruiting efforts.

Location/Area of Operation

Northern Ireland, Irish Republic. Does not have an established presence on the UK mainland.

External Aid

Suspected of receiving funds and arms from sympathizers in the United States. May have acquired arms and materiel from the Balkans in cooperation with the Real IRA.

Sources and Resources

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Created by John Pike
Maintained by Steven Aftergood
Updated July 13, 2004