The IRA Green Book: security and commitment (1977)

The Green Book was an induction and training manual used by the IRA from the mid-1970s. It was issued to all new recruits, who were expected to familiarise themselves with the contents of the Green Book. This extract from the 1977 edition stresses the need for secrecy, security and commitment to the IRA:

“Commitment to the Republican Movement is the firm belief that its struggle both military and political is morally justified, that war is morally justified and that the [IRA] is the direct representative of the 1918 Dail Eireann Parliament, and that as such they are the legal and lawful government of the Irish Republic, which has the moral right to pass laws for, and to claim jurisdiction over the territory, air space, mineral resources, means of production, distribution and exchange and all of its people regardless of creed or loyalty.

The most important thing is security. That means you DON`T TALK IN PUBLIC PLACES. You don’t tell your family, friends, girlfriends or workmates that you are a member of the IRA. Don’t express views about military matters, in other words you say nothing to any person. Don’t be seen in public marches, demonstrations or protests. Don’t be seen in the company of known Republicans, don’t frequent known Republican houses. Your prime duty is to remain unknown to the enemy forces and the public at large.

Another important thing volunteers must realise and understand is the danger in drinking alcohol and the very real danger of over-drinking. Quite a large body of information has been gathered in the past by enemy forces and their touts from volunteers who drank.Volunteers are warned that drink-induced loose talk is the most potential danger facing any organisation, and in a military organisation it is suicide…

The Irish Republican Army, as the legal representatives of the Irish people, are morally justified in carrying out a campaign of resistance against foreign occupation forces and domestic collaborators. All volunteers are and must feel morally justified in carrying out the dictates of the legal government; they as the Army are the legal and lawful Army of the Irish Republic which has been forced underground by overwhelming forces.

Before any potential volunteer decides to join the Irish Republican Army he should understand fully and clearly the issues involved. He should not join the Army because of emotionalism, sensationalism, or adventurism. He should examine fully his own motives, knowing the dangers involved and knowing that he will find no romance within the Movement. Again he should examine his political motives bearing in mind that the Army are intent on creating a Socialist Republic.

The Army as an organisation claims and expects your total allegiance without reservation. It enters into every aspect of your life. It invades the privacy of your home life, it fragments your family and friends, in other words claims your total allegiance. All potential volunteers must realise that the threat of capture and of long jail sentences are a very real danger and a shadow which hangs over every volunteer. Many in the past have joined the Army out of romantic notions, or sheer adventure, but when captured and jailed they had afterthoughts about their allegiance to the Army. They realised at too late a stage that they had no real interest in being volunteers…

Volunteers are expected to wage a military war of liberation against a numerically superior force. This involves the use of arms and explosives… When volunteers are trained in the use of arms they must fully understand that guns are dangerous, and their main purpose is to take human life, in other words to kill people, and volunteers are trained to kill people. It is not an easy thing to take up a gun and go out to kill some person without strong convictions or justification. The Army, its motivating force, is based upon strong convictions which bonds the Army into one force and before any potential volunteer decides to join the Army he must have these strong convictions. Convictions which are strong enough to give him confidence to kill someone without hesitation and without regret.

All people wishing to join the Army must fully realise that when life is being taken, that very well could mean their own. If you go out to shoot soldiers or police you must fully realise that they too can shoot you.Life in an underground army is extremely harsh and hard, cruel and disillusioning at times. So before any person decides to join the Army he should think seriously about the whole thing.”