From: www.adl.org (http://www.adl.org)
The Real IRA is a hard-line splinter group that broke away from the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in November 1997 on the background of the Northern Ireland Peace Process. The founding members of the RIRA objected to the cease-fire called by the IRA in 1997, choosing instead to continue the armed struggle. While the Provisional IRA, allied with the Sinn Fein Party, supported--and indeed helped to achieve--the peace settlement, the dissident republican groups declared that they would accept nothing less than the union of Northern Ireland with the British-controlled Irish Republic. The group’s stated objective is the disruption of the peace process, leading to a complete British withdrawal from North Ireland.
The IRA dissidents who resigned from the mainstream republican movement eventually regrouped in order to set up a new organization, the “Real” IRA. The group includes a number of the IRA's 12-strong “army executive,” who resigned, along with quartermaster-general McKevitt in protest of the official IRA support for the peace process. The dissidents formed a new “army executive,” which was to elect an army council to run the new organization.
It is strongly suspected that the Real IRA is the military wing of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, lead in part by Bernadette Sands McKevitt, who serves as acting vice president. The Committee, established in December of 1997, strives for the full independence of 26 counties in the Irish Republic and the six counties of Nothern Ireland. Most of the support for the RIRA is thought to be in the Dundalk and Newry area with some support in Dublin.
The group is small in number and has suffered heavy setbacks at
the hands of the Irish police. The RIRA recruited up to 30 experienced
operators from ranks of the PIRA, mainly in the Republic but also
in some areas in North Ireland. In addition, it embarked on a clandestine
campaign to enroll younger recruits previously uninvolved in paramilitary
activity. Estimates of total membership have varied from about 70
to 175. Some analysts think the most likely figure is about 100.