This is a guide to the local terms and acronyms used in Ireland
and Britain in reference to Northern Ireland and the conflict and
Term used by the IRA to describe when its members are on an IRA
A small Northern moderate political party which wishes to maintain
the union with Britain.
National executive, usually of a political party.
Annual convention, usually of a political party.
TDs without portfolios.
Bunreacht na hÉireann
The Constitution of Ireland.
In the South, Catholics comprise the overwhelming majority of the
Republic's 3.6 million population. In the North, Catholics comprise
43 per cent of the population and total 645,000. Although the largest
single religious denomination, Catholics are in the minority in
Catholic Reaction Force. Responsible for the murder of three church
elders in the Darkley Pentecostal church, November 1983. The CRF
is reputed to be a cover name for the INLA.
A term used to denote the British Government and all the forces,
such as the British Army, and institutions that compose the British
State, whose constitutional head is the Queen.
Continuity IRA / CIRA
One of the splinter republican groups which has emerged in recent
times and which remain implacably opposed to the current peace talks.
Seat of Irish parliament.
Democratic Left - Founded in 1992, in a break away from the Workers'
Party when Soviet-style socialism was rejected. In the last Dail
the party had five members in the Dáil and one member in
the Seanad and was one of three members of the Rainbow Coalition
which was in office in the Republic of Ireland from November '95
until June '97.
Democratic Unionist Party - right-wing party, owing its origins
to the Ulster Unionist Party. Fiercely anti-republican, and led
by one of the most controversial party leaders in the country -
the Rev Ian Paisley.
Economic and Social Research Institute.
The special intelligence unit of the RUC alleged to have taken part
in several "shoot to kill" incidents in Northern Ireland
in the early 1980s.
A term, usually pejorative, for a Catholic that implies that he
or she is a Republican. The original Fenians were an Irish-American
revolutionary group in the 1860s.
The country's largest political party, founded by Éamon de
Valera in 1926. A centrist political party with strong republican
leanings. The leader of the party is Mr Bertie Ahern.
A republican youth movement which has affiliations with Sinn Féin
The country's second largest political party. A Christian Democrat
party, founded in 1933, which won over 25 per cent of the total
votes cast in the general election of November, 1992. The party
holds 47 out of the 166 seats in Dáil Éireann, and
was the largest party in the Government. The leader of Fine Gael
is Michael Noonan.
Gaelic Athletic Association (Governing body for Gaelic games including
hurling, gaelic football, and handball). The GAA currently prohibits
members of the security forces in Northern Ireland from becoming
members of the GAA.
Police - Full name is Garda Síochána ie guardians
of the peace. The force is unarmed.
Plural of Garda
Colloquial name for the buildings in the Maze Prison where most
paramilitary prisoners are held.
Higher Education Authority
Industrial Development Authority (State body charged with attracting
Industrial Development Board (NI body charged with attracting foreign
industry to Northern Ireland).
Irish National Liberation Army (Small republican paramilitary organisation.)
Irish People's Liberation Organisation (Breakaway group from INLA).
Irish Republican Army (Major republican paramilitary organisation).The
IRA's goal is a united Ireland. It called a ceasefire in 1994 but
returned to violence in February, 1996.
Irish Republican Socialist Party (political wing of the INLA)
Officially Ministers of State. They are not members of the Cabinet.
They work closely with ministers in charge of departments.
Joint Declaration on Northern Ireland (1993)
Sets out the basic principles to be followed in establishing a framework
for the settlement of political relationships in Ireland and between
Ireland and Britain.
Founded in 1912 at a conference of the Irish Trade Union Congress
in Clonmel under the inspiration of James Connolly, Jim Larkin and
William O'Brien. It is represented in Dáil Éireann,
Seanad Éireann and in the European Parliament as a member
of the Party of European Socialists (PES).
Body charged with developing small indigenous industries throughout
Houses both the Dail and the Seanad. Situated on Kildare Street
Someone who is resolutely opposed to a united Ireland and who favours
maintaining the Union with Britain.
Loyalist Volunteer Force - Active loyalist paramilitary group which
is resolutely opposed to the peace talks. Has committed more than
16 sectarian murders since it was formed in during the Drumcree
stand-off in 1996. Its first leader, Billy Wright, was murdered
by the INLA in the Maze Prison on December 27 1997.
Member of the European Parliament
The British domestic intelligence service that has overall control
of the British Government's battle against the IRA.
Britain's overseas intelligence services.
Member of (the British) Parliament.
Someone who aspires to a reunited Ireland by non-violent means.
Northern Ireland Office - the administrative headquarters for the
North, headed by the Northern Secretary and a team of British Government
Irish Northern Aid Committee. American-based republican fund raising
Republican paramilitary faction. The IRA split in 1969 left two
organisations, the Provisional IRA and the Official IRA. The Official
IRA declared a ceasefire in 1972 and is said to have disbanded.
It had close ties to the Workers Party.
Oglaigh na hEireann
Gaelic term for the Irish Republican Army. Used by the IRA in official
statements and bomb warnings.
Name to cover both houses of the Irish Parliament (i.e. The Dáil
and the Seanad) and the President.
A left-wing radical group. Formed in 1968, it played a pivotal role
in the Civil Rights movement.
The Progressive Democrat Party was formed in 1985. There are four
Dáil Deputies and two senators. The PD leader is Mary Harney,
the first woman to lead a political party in the State.
The manner in which elections are carried out. With PR members are
elected by means of a single transferable vote (stv). No constituency
may have less than three members.
A member of any of the different Christian denominations in Ireland,
excluding Catholicism. The Protestant population stands at 855,000
and comprises 57 per cent of the total population of Northern Ireland.
The vast majority of Protestants in Northern Ireland support the
Union with Britain.
Protestant Action Force. Cover name used by the loyalist UVF
Another name for the modern-day IRA, which split in 1969 at the
outbreak of the Troubles into two factions, the Official IRA and
the Provisional IRA. The Provisionals soon eclipsed their Official
rivals and the term Provisional is now synonymous with the IRA.
Progressive Unionist Party - small fringe unionist party associated
with the loyalist paramilitary force, the Ulster Volunteer Force
A leading member of the IRA's Army Council and the person charged
with the provision of arms to pursue a terrorist campaign.
Red Hand Commandos
An illegal loyalist paramilitary group responsible for many sectarian
A vote by all citizens over 18 on a proposed amendment to the Constitution.
A supporter of a united Ireland.
A term used to cover both Sinn Féin, the legal political
wing of the IRA, and the IRA, the illegal military wing of the republican
Royal Irish Regiment - British Army regiment formed in 1992 with
the amalgamation of the Ulster Defence Regiment and Royal Irish
Radio Telefís Éireann (The state-run broadcasting
authority). RTÉ1 and Network 2 are its two television channels.
Royal Ulster Constabulary (The police force of Northern Ireland).
Special Air Services - An undercover wing of the British Army.
Social Democratic and Labour Party (The major nationalist political
party in the North. It is opposed to violence.)
A loyalist gang based in the Shankill area of Belfast whose reign
of terror in the 1970s was responsible for the sectarian killing
of 19 people in as many months.
The political wing of the IRA. Not an illegal organisation.
Intelligence divisions in police forces, North and South of the
The seat of government in Northern Ireland and the location of the
Prime Minister (Head of Government; the President is Head of State),
currently the leader of the Fianna Fail party, Mr Bertie Ahern.
Deputy Prime Minister, currently the leader of the Progressive Democrats,
Ms Mary Harney
Teachta Dála (Member of the Dáil).
Troubles, or Ireland's Troubles
Euphemism for the period covering the violence in Northern Ireland
- generally considered to have begun in the wake of the civil rights
marches in Northern Ireland in 1969.
Troops Out Movement
A British-based organised group which believes the British presence
in Ireland is the most serious obstacle to any progress towards
Ulster Defence Association (An outlawed loyalist organisation which
acts as a front for the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF).
Ulster Democratic Party - small fringe unionist party with few elected
councillors. It is linked to linked to the UDA/UFF.
Ulster Defence Regiment. Branch of the British army, set up in 1970
to replace the discredited B-Specials. Composed mainly of Protestants,
it was considered by nationalists to be a sectarian organisation.
Some of its members have been jailed for paramilitary activities.
After disbandment in 1992, the UDR was replaced by the Royal Irish
Ulster Freedom Fighters (An illegal loyalist para-military group)
- synonymous with the UDA.
Someone who believes in maintaining Northern Ireland's political
Union with Great Britain.
Ulster Television - the independent commercial television channel
serving the North.
The largest political party in Northern Ireland, supports the continuing
governance of Northern Ireland from Westminster. It is led by David
Ulster Volunteer Force (An illegal loyalist para-military group
which has links with the Progressive Unionist Party).
Ulster Workers Council
Loyalist organisation that staged a two-week-long strike in 1974
that succeeded in bringing down the power-sharing Northern Ireland
Executive. It was formed in opposition to what it perceived as interference
by the Republic of Ireland in the Affairs of Northern Ireland.
(Vehicle Check Point) - British army term.
Workers' Party (a small extreme left-wing political party).