Terrorism Profiles

Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA)

Posted By January 13, 2016 No Comments

Alternative Names:

Irish Republican Army, IRA, PIRA, the provos, Oglaigh na hEireann, UK Separatists


Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, England, Western Europe


All levels of PIRA’s organization were entitled to representation at PIRA General Army Conventions (GAC), PIRA’s supreme decision-making authority.

The GAC selected a 12-member Army Executive, which met semi-annually. It was also the role of the Army Executive to select the members of the Army Council.

The day-to-day operations of the PIRA, such as policymaking, tactical decision-making, and internal appointments were conducted by the Army Council.

PIRA was divided into a Northern Command and a Southern Command.

In traditional military fashion, PIRA’s operational units were organized into brigades, battalions, and companies.


PIRA was thought to consist of up to several hundred core members, though the organization’s active and passive support cadres numbered in the thousands, and could be called upon as auxiliaries in emergency circumstances.

Funding Sources:

PIRA maintained ties to the Irish republican political party, Sinn Fein, from which PIRA derived political and financial resources.


PIRA emerged in 1969 as an outgrowth of the Irish Republican Army, following a split in the republican movement during the Troubles of the late 1960s. PIRA initiated an offensive campaign in the early 1970s with the objective of forcing the British government to withdraw forces from Northern Ireland.

PIRA agreed to a ceasefire in 1997 and disarmed under the supervision of international monitors in 2005.

Major Attacks:

PIRA’s armed campaign across Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, England, and mainland Europe resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and over 1,000 state security forces. PIRA carried out hundreds of bomb and firearm attacks, primarily directed at state security forces and strategic political targets.

Ideological Roots:

PIRA traces its ideological roots to a rejection of the British monarchy and Irish republicanism.


PIRA sought to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and establish an independent republic encompassing a united Ireland consisting of all thirty-two traditional counties of Ireland.


Bombings, vehicle-borne explosives, assassinations, kidnap and ransom, firearm attacks, extortion, robbery, and guerrilla and conventional military action.

Updated on January 12, 2016.