Reality Check: The Real IRA's Tactical Adaptation and Restraint in the Aftermath of the Omagh Bombing

John F. Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Real IRA (RIRA) has been the most consistently active of all of the violent dissident republican (VDR) groups in a post-Troubles Northern Ireland, including in their contemporary guise as the New IRA. Their violence has claimed the lives of police officers, soldiers, suspected-drug dealers, their own members, and innocent civilians. Shortly after their formation, they were responsible for the single worst atrocity of the Troubles, namely the Omagh bombing of August 1998. From that attack to their resurgence in 2007, their violent activity changed in focus. This was largely a result of the post-Omagh response from the legislature and security services. These external pressures worked in parallel with internal brakes to violent activity. The present article utilises the internal brakes typology alongside political organisational theory to assess the non-violent decision-making processes during this period. Central to this analysis is the consideration of the primacy of organisational survival. In the article, primary source interviews and organisational statements are assessed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-164
Number of pages13
JournalPerspectives on Terrorism
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Northern Ireland
  • Real IRA
  • Terrorism
  • Non-Violence
  • Dissidents

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