British and Irish Governments Seek U.S. Ban on Real IRA

The Omagh bombing of 1998.

By Irish America Staff
February / March 2001

The Irish and British governments have asked the United States to designate the Real IRA as a terrorist organization, a step that would prevent the organization from raising funds in the U.S. The Real IRA is widely believed to be responsible for planting the bomb that killed 31 people – including unborn twins – in Omagh in 1998. The organization has resurfaced recently and poses a threat to the peace process.

The Real IRA and their political wing, the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, already have very little support in the U.S., and Garda (Irish police) Commissioner Pat Byrne and RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan have raised the question as to whether designating the Real IRA a terrorist organization would not be counterproductive and in fact elevate the group’s status in Irish American circles.

Lawyer Frank Durkan, a prominent member of New York City’s Irish American community believes that designating the Real IRA as a terrorist organization would put them on the defensive and actually incite further acts of terrorism. “Once you start labeling people, you get their backs up. You don’t know what they might do then,” he told The Irish Voice.

Another reason he was reluctant to see the Real IRA designated as terrorists is, “I don’t like the idea of people being labeled as terrorists. I always think of the old saying `One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.'” ♦

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