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Abstracts on Organisations - 'R'

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Compiled: Martin Melaugh ... Additional Material: Brendan Lynn and Fionnuala McKenna
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change

initial letter of the name of the organisation

Radio Telefis Éireann (RTE)
The main television and radio broadcasting company in Republic of Ireland.
[Web Site]

Raphoe Reconciliation Project
The Raphoe Reconciliation Project was established in 1998 and is a project based in Raphoe in County Donegal. The aims of this project are to provide a unique information centre and archive - which is completely indexed onto computer and available to remote browsers as well as local people and visitors - with which to explore the historical roots of division and to create new bonds of friendship and community through discussion and dialogue. Library and information centre available for researchers and visitors, the project also organises seminars and courses in Raphoe town.
[Web Site]

'real' Irish Republican Army (rIRA)
synonyms: Óglaigh na hÉireann; 'Dissident Republicans; 'dissident' Irish Republican Army; Irish Republican Army (IRA)

This Republican Paramilitary group was formed in November 1997 from dissident members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). These former members of the IRA were opposed to the 'peace process' and the political leadership of Sinn Féin. The rIRA was believed to include a former 'quartermaster-general' of the IRA and a former 'head of engineering'. There was speculation over the following months that many members of the 'engineering' section of the IRA left to join the rIRA. Membership of the organisation was initially put at between 100 and 200 people. Most of the support for the rIRA was initially in the Dundalk and Newry area with some support in Dublin. It is believed to have political links with the Thirty-Two County Sovereignty Committee. The 'real' IRA is also believed to have close links with the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA). The rIRA is believed to have access to some of the equipment that belonged to the IRA.

The following are some of the attacks that the rIRA is believed to have been responsible for:

  • 16 September 1997 - van bomb exploded at RUC station in Markethill, County Armagh
  • 6 January 1998 - car bomb defused in the centre of Banbridge, County Down
  • 20 February 1998 - car bomb exploded at RUC station in Moira, County Down
  • 23 February 1998 - car bomb exploded in centre of Portadown, County Armagh
  • 10 March 1998 - mortar bomb attack on RUC station in Armagh, County Armagh
  • 24 June 1998 - car bomb exploded in Newtownhamilton, County Armagh
  • 22 July 1998 - mortar bomb attack on RUC station in Newry, County Down
  • 28 July 1998 - incendiary bombs found in stores in Portadown, County Armagh
  • 2 August 1998 - car bomb in centre of Banbridge, County Down
  • 15 August 1998 - car bomb in centre of Omagh, County Tyrone; 29 people killed

For a full list see the Chronology of Dissident Republican Activity, 1994-2011.

The 'real' IRA admitted to being responsible for the bomb in Omagh on Saturday 15 August 1998. This bomb represented the single worst incident in Northern Ireland during the present conflict with 29 people being killed and hundreds injured. On 18 August 1998 the 'real' IRA announced a suspension of its activities. However, the organisation subsequently reverted to violence with occasional attacks in Northern Ireland and in England. The rIRA may have been responsible for the bomb in London on 4 March 2001.

On 26 July 2012 media organisations received a statment which indicated that there had been a realignment and merger of a number of Dissident Republican paramilitary groups. It was reported (The Guardian; 26 July 2012) that the 'real' Irish Republican Army (rIRA) had merged with Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) and some other smaller Dissident Republican paramilitary groups. The new grouping adopted the name 'Irish Republican Army'. It was also reported that the 'real' IRA and RAAD will cease to exist as of 26 July 2012.

Membership: Membership is probably numbered in the dozens. When the rIRA called its ceasefire in 1998 it is believed that some members joined the CIRA.

Arsenal: The rIRA is believed to be in the possession of some weapons that were taken from IRA dumps. The rIRA probably has access to a few dozen rifles, machine guns, and pistols; a small amount of Semtex (commercial high explosive); and a small number of detonators.

'Real' Irish Republican Army (rIRA) Prisoners. (2002). Statement issued by jailed members of the rIRA in Portlaoise Prison calling on the Army Council of the organisation to "stand down", (20 October 2002). Portlaoise: rIRA Prisoners.
'Real' Irish Republican Army (rIRA). (2003). Statement based on a series of questions and answers, (28 January 2003). Derry: rIRA.
'Real' Irish Republican Army (rIRA). (2009). Easter statement read at 32 County Sovereignty Movement Commemoration at the Republican Plot in Derry City Cemetery, (28 January 2003). Derry: rIRA.
[new] Irish Republican Army (IRA). (2012). Irish Republican Army (IRA) Statement About A New Grouping, Derry, (26 July 2012). Derry: IRA Army Council.

See also:
Chronology of Dissident Republican Activity, 1994-2011

Red Branch Knights (RBK)
A small Loyalist paramilitary group that came to public attention in September 1992. The group claimed responsibility for incendiary devices and a blast bomb left in a Dublin-based bank in Newtownabbey. Statements that were sent to the media threatening action against anyone with political or economic links with the Republic of Ireland.

Red Hand Commando (RHC)
A small Loyalist paramilitary group which was, at times, closely associated with the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The RHC was formed in 1972 and had its most support in east Belfast, the Sandy Row area, and parts of County Down. The group was declared illegal in 1973. The RHC was part of the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC). The Loyalist Retaliation and Defence Group (LRDG) was believed to be associated with the RHC.
(See also: Ulster Volunteer Force, UVF; Loyalist Retaliation and Defence Group, LRDG.)

Red Hand Defenders (RHD)
The name 'Red Hand Defenders', a Loyalist paramilitary grouping, was first used 1998. Initially the group was believed to be made up of dissident members of other Loyalist paramilitary goups who were opposed to the Good Friday Agreement. It was thought that the RHD had drawn its members from the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), and also elements of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) (and the UDA's covername the Ulster Freedom Fighters; UFF). The RHD first came to prominence when it claimed responsibility for a blast bomb attack on 7 September 1998 which killed Frankie O'Reilly, a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer. (This attack occured during an Orange Order demonstration at Drumcree against the decision not to allow the Order to parade through the Catholic Garvaghy Road area of Portadown, County Armagh.) The group claimed responsibility for the killing of Brain Service (35), a Catholic civilian, on 2 November 1998. The RHD also claimed responsibility for the killing of Rosemary Nelson, a Catholic human rights solicitor, in Lurgan on 15 March 1999. In addition to the killings the RHD has also claimed numerous blast bomb attacks on Catholic families across Northern Ireland. The RHD appeared at around the same time as the Orange Volunteers and initially commentators believed that the same people were involved in both paramilitary groups.
However, in the middle of 2001 there was further speculation that the RHD was being used as a covername (a pseudonym, or 'flag of convenience') by members of the LVF and the UDA / UFF under which these organisations could carry out attacks without taking the blame. If this is true then the RHD is a non-existent organisation. [The reason why other Loyalist paramilitary organisations would use a covername has to do with the early release scheme for paramilitary prisoners. Only those organisations that were on ceasefire could benefit from the scheme.]

Membership: The RHD and the OV are the most recent Loyalist paramilitary organisations and both came to prominence in 1998. A number of commentators believe the two groups draw on the same pool of support which may number several dozen.
Arsenal: Both organisations have used home-made 'pipe bombs' (or blast bombs), but also appear to have access to grenades and hand guns.
(See also: Orange Volunteers.)

Relatives Action Committee
(See: National H-Block / Armagh Committee.)

Relatives For Justice (RFJ)
A group mainly made up of relatives of those who had been killed by members of the security forces in disputed circumstances. The group was established in Belfast in April 1991. At an annual meeting in 1992 it was suggested that specialist teams should be established to investigate disputed killings.
From the RFJ website: "RFJ is a Belfast based NGO support group working with and providing support to relatives of people bereaved, and injured, by the conflict across the North of Ireland including border regions in the 26 counties. We work primarily with those people affected by state and state sponsored violence. We assist and support families coping with the effects of bereavement through violence and the resulting trauma. This is provided through our drop-in services and satellite befriending programmes."

Rolston, Bill. (2000) Unfinished Business: State Killings and the Quest for Truth.


Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD)
A vigilante organisation which operated in Republican areas in Derry City but has also carried out attacks in the Strabane and Newry areas. It largely targeted those people it alleged were drug dealers by means of pipe bombs or arson attacks on their property, threatening or banishing alleged dealers, and paramilitary 'punishment attacks' where alleged dealers were shot in the legs. It is believed that the group formed in 2008. Its activities were noted by the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) since its 22nd report. RAAD admitted to the killing of Andrew Allen on 9 February 2012. On 26 July 2012 a statement was issued that indicated that RAAD had merged with the 'real' Irish Republican Army (rIRA) to form a new grouping which adopted the name 'Irish Republican Army'.
(See also: Action Against Drugs; and Direct Action Against Drugs)
[Entry added by Brendan Lynn, September 2011; update Martin Melaugh, April 2012]

Republican Clubs
(See: Workers' Party.)

Republican Defence Army (RDA)
A short-lived Dissident Republican grouping referred to by the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) in its seventeenth report published in November 2007. It was alleged to have carried an assault in Strabane.
[Entry added by Brendan Lynn, September 2011]

Republican Labour Party (RLP)
RLP was formed in Belfast 1960 by Gerry Fitt and Harry Diamond, both of whom were Stormont Members of Parliament. It supported a non-violent Republicanism with strong socialist principles. In the 1969 Stormont election the party got 2.4 per cent of the vote. The party was also active in the civil rights campaign. The RLP split when Fitt left the party to lead the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in 1970. The party dissolved in 1973 with the failure to secure a seat at the Assembly election.

Republican Network for Unity (RNU)
Formerly: 'Ex-POW's and Concerned Republicans against RUC/PSNI'
The Republican Network for Unity (RNU) was formed in 2007. The grouping represents republicans who are opposed to the direction taken by Sinn Féin (SF) in accepting the Good Friday Agreement and in particular the decision taken by SF on 28 January 2007 to support the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and to support the criminal justice system in the region. The RNU was formed out of a pressure group known as 'Ex-POW's and Concerned Republicans against RUC/PSNI'.
See also: RNU Publications
[Web Site]

Republican Sinn Féin (RSF)
A breakaway group from Sinn Féin (SF) which was formed in 1986. At the 1986 SF Ard Fheis, SF decided to end its traditional abstention policy from the Dáil but those who opposed the move walked out to form RSF. The group was lead by Ruairí Ó Braídaigh, former President of SF, and Dáithí Ó Conaill, former Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). At the 1988 RSF Ard Fheis the party reaffirmed its support for the 'armed struggle'. RSF rejected the 1993 Downing Street Declaration and was also against the peace process. There have been claims that the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) was, in effect, the military wing of RSF but this has been denied by RSF leaders. The CIRA has not declared a ceasefire and is opposed to the Good Friday Agreement.
[Web Site]

A small Loyalist paramilitary group that was believed to have received a consignment of arms in 1988. The group was believed to be part of the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC).
(See also: Combined Loyalist Military Command.)

Rowntree Trusts (RT)
synonyms: Joseph Rowntree Trusts
There are three Joseph Rowntree Trusts. They were all set up at the same time, but have different purposes. They are all independent of each other. The three Trusts are: The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd (formerly The Joseph Rowntree Social Service Trust Ltd; JRSST Ltd). A number of political parties and pressure groups in Northern Ireland have been recipients of grants from the JRSST Ltd. The JRSST Ltd even provided funding to finance the expenses of paramilitary delegates attending an Oxford conference in 1974.
Web Sites:
The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation
The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd

Royal Air Force (RAF)
A branch of the British Armed Services. The RAF provides air transport and reconnaissance to the security services in Northern Ireland. The RAF regiment is based at RAF Aldergrove, next to the International Airport, near Belfast.
[Web Site]

Royal Black Institution (RBI)
synonyms: Imperial Grand Black Chapter of the British Commonwealth
One of the Loyal Institutions. The RBI is essentially the senior branch of the Orange Order. The headquarters of the RBI is in Lurgan, County Armagh. Its structure is very similar to that of the Orange Order, although instead of Lodges, members group together in Preceptories. An individual must be a member of an Orange Order before he can be admitted to the Royal Black Institution. The Royal Black Institution holds its main parades on the 13 July and the last Saturday in August, and they are generally attended by approximately 30,000 members.

Royal Irish Regiment (RIR)
A regiment of the British Army formed in July 1992 when the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) and the Royal Irish Rangers were merged. Most commentators saw this as a move to try and deal with the persistent criticism of the UDR. The UDR was almost entirely Protestant and a number of its members were actively involved with Loyalist paramilitary groups. The RIR was made up of six home battalions and one battalion for service overseas. The RIR was comprised of 5,500 soldiers; 3,000 being full-time and 2,500 part time.
On 1 August 2005 it was announced that the three Northern Ireland-based battalions of the RIR would be disbanded on 1 August 2007 as part of the British Army's response to the IRA ending its armed campaign. More than 3,000 soldiers serve in the three 'home-based' battalions, many of these are part-time soldiers. Unionists reacted angrily to the announcement but nationalists welcomed the move. (It was also announced that the British Army would end its support role to the police on 1 August 2007.) On 9 March 2006 it was announced that there would be a special redundancy package costing up to 250m for the 3,000 Northern Ireland RIR soldiers affected by the disbandment. Full-time soldiers will receive a special payment of 28,000, a redundancy payment and a pension. Part-time soldiers will receive a special payment of about 14,000, but are not entitled to redundancy.
(See also: Ulster Defence Regiment, UDR.)

Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
synonyms: Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)
The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was the name of the Northern Ireland police force from 1 June 1922 to 4 November 2001. During most of that period the RUC was almost entirely made up of officers drawn from the Protestant community - during the 1990s approximately 93 per cent of officers were Protestant. The force has come under a lot of criticism from the Nationalist community since its inception but particularly since the beginning of the current conflict. Following a period from 1969 to 1975 when the British Army had primacy in security matters, the RUC gradually took over the main responsibility for security. However, within the RUC itself Special Branch, the name of the RUC intelligence department, had primacy. A former Chief Superintendent alleged that: "From the running of informants, to arrests and raid operations or even surveillance, we needed Special Branch approval. And it was only given if it suited them." (source: 'Insight' programmme, UTV, 1 May 2001) [There were additional allegations that British Intelligence (MI5) had control over aspects of the operation of Special Branch.] During the 1990s the RUC had approximately 8,500 officers (The RUC Reserve was made up of 1,500 part-time and 3,200 full-time officers). 301 RUC officers have been killed during the current period of 'the Troubles'. During the same time the RUC were responsible for the deaths of (approximately) 52 people, of these 30 were civilians and most of the civilians were Catholics. Following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 a Commission was established to make recommendations on the future of the RUC. The Report of the Commission, the Patten Report, was published on 9 September 1999 and made 175 recommendations. Among the recommendations was a change to the name from RUC to Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Ryder, Chris. (1992) The RUC: A Force Under Fire.
(See also: Police Service of Northern Ireland, PSNI; and key issue of policing.)

[Web Site]

Royal Ulster Constabulary Reserve (RUCR)
A special reserve force attached to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The force is made up of 1,500 full-time and 3,200 part-time members.

(xx)     Indicates that an entry is being prepared.
(?)     Information is a best estimate while awaiting an update.
(??)     Information is doubtful and is awaiting an update.
[Main Entry]     Indicates that a longer separate entry is planned in the future.

For related and background information see also:

  • The list of acronyms associated with 'the Troubles'.
  • The glossary of terms related to the conflict.
  • The biographies of people who were prominent during 'the Troubles'.
  • The chronology of the conflict.

The information in the abstracts has been compiled from numerous primary and secondary sources. The best general sources for additional information are:

initial letter of the name of the organisation

CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.

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