New publication by SPIN member: The Intelligence War Against the Irish Republican Army, 2020

July 14, 2020

Thomas Leahy, The Intelligence War Against the Irish Republican Army (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020, paperback, e-book and hardback).  


For over twenty-five years between 1969 and 1998, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) conducted an armed campaign against the British state in Northern Ireland. Thomas Leahy‘s book investigates whether informers and other British intelligence operations forced the IRA into peace in the 1990s. Following the exposure of two senior IRA informers by 2005, various academics and journalists concluded the IRA was pressurised into peace by British intelligence. In this first extensive study, Thomas cross-references new interview material with memoirs, and Irish and UK archival documents. He suggests three primary reasons why the IRA did not face terminal decline because of the intelligence war by the 1990s. First, many rural IRA units had an elusive nature. Second, the cellular structure of the IRA in Belfast and Derry city provided additional security for these units after 1975. Finally, the IRA leadership proved difficult to infiltrate because of its isolation from the rest of the organization. The IRA’s persistence helped to convince the British government to include Irish republicans in peace negotiations.


The book is ideal for academics, students and the general reader who wants to know more about why peace emerged in Northern Ireland, understand British intelligence’s role against the IRA, and who wants to explore how intelligence operations are enacted against but also countered-by non-state armed groups.



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