Óglaigh na hÉireann (Real IRA splinter group)

For other uses, see Óglaigh na hÉireann.
Óglaigh na hÉireann
Participant in the Dissident Irish republican campaign
Active 2009 - present
Ideology Irish republicanism
Leaders Army Council
Area of operations Northern Ireland (mainly)
Republic of Ireland
Strength ~50 members (2010)
Originated as Real Irish Republican Army
Opponents British Army
Police Service of Northern Ireland

Óglaigh na hÉireann (ONH; [ˈoːɡɫ̪iː n̪ˠə ˈheːɾʲən̪ˠ]) is the title taken by a small dissident Irish republican paramilitary group that has taken part as a belligerent in the armed conflict in Northern Ireland. The organisation started carrying out attacks around 2009 and was formed after a split within the Real IRA.[1]

In December 2010, the group's strength was estimated to be about 50 members and it is recruiting and training in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.[2] The group has carried out high-profile attacks on the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the British Army in Northern Ireland. The organisation seems to be mainly based in the Belfast area, and there are also elements within the Derry, Strabane and South Armagh/North Louth areas.[3] However, with the growth of the larger Real IRA or New IRA after it merged in July 2012 with other groups, the organisation's activity has steadily declined. Splits and an intelligence campaign waged against it by the PSNI and MI5 have caused the organisation to lose many members according to media reports.[4] The organisation is said to be aligned with the Republican Network for Unity, a republican socialist group, although RNU has denied this.[5]


Óglaigh na hÉireann is an Irish Language idiom for "soldiers of Ireland", "warriors of Ireland", "Irish Volunteers", or "volunteers of Ireland". It has been referred to as ONH for short by many, including the Independent Monitoring Commission. [6]


It is claimed the organisation came into existence after a split between the older leadership of the Real IRA and the new leadership, with the older leadership claiming those that "took over" the Real IRA were "more interested in criminality as a opposed to fighting the crown forces". These tensions were evident as far back as late 2003, when Real IRA members in Portlaoise Prison called on the leadership to stand down and call off its campaign. However, these calls fell on deaf ears and a dispute started, with most Real IRA prisoners at the time siding with the older leadership who founded the organisation.[7] The organization was formed in 2009 after a split within the Real IRA.


It is not well known what weaponry Óglaigh na hÉireann has access to. Most of its attacks use improvised explosive devices rather than more conventional military weapons. These include coffee jar bombs, car bombs, pipe bombs, improvised mortar, under car booby traps and other booby traps. These are weapons that have been used in attacks they have claimed. In August 2013 the group was blamed for planting a Katyusha-style rocket in undergrowth next to a field near Cullyhanna in South Armagh. The weapon was to be triggered using a mobile phone.[8]

Other attacks Óglaigh na hÉireann has carried out have used conventional weapons such as grenades, assault rifles and pistols. In 2010 a man on a bicycle threw a "Russian type" hand grenade at Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers attending a call to a bookie's. The officers were injured and the grenade caused slight damage to a kerb.










See also


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  2. "Oglaigh na hEireann is now the main threat". Belfasttelegraph.co.uk. 2 December 2010. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  3. Brady, Tom. "Oglaigh na hEireann is now the main threat". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-11-04.
  4. Breen, Suzanne (2011-02-15). "Dissident denies stealing inmates' Christmas cash". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-11-04.
  5. Rowan, Brian (2011-02-19). "Dissidents deny issuing death threat to Belfast republican". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-11-04.
  6. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/organ/oorgan.htm
  7. Black Operations: The Secret War Against the Real IRA
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  12. "Bomb allegedly was the work of dissidents". Retrieved 15 July 2013.
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  15. "Car bomb officer Peadar Heffron's leg amputated". BBC News. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
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