The Provisional IRA’s “Staff Report” (1977)

In December 1977, Irish Gardai arrested Provisional IRA leader Seamus Twomey near Dublin. They searched a flat being used by Twomey and located a document, later dubbed the “IRA Staff Report”. This document, possibly drafted by Gerry Adams and other Republican strategists, outlined the reorganisation of the Provisional IRA into a more resilient and effective movement. It also called for the Provisional IRA to assume complete control of Sinn Féin:

“The three- and seven-day detention orders are breaking [Provisional IRA] volunteers, and it is the Republican Army’s fault for not indoctrinating volunteers with the psychological strength to resist interrogation. Coupled with this factor, which is contributing to our defeat, we are burdened with an inefficient infrastructure of commands, brigades, battalions and companies.

This old system, with which Brits and [Special] Branch are familiar, has to be changed. We recommend reorganisation and remotivation, the building of a new Irish Republican Army. We must emphasise a return to secrecy and strict discipline. Army men must be in total control of all sections of the movement. Disguises should be made use of in all operations. The breaking up of the present structure into administration sections and operational cells will make for maximum military effectiveness…

We must gear ourselves towards long-term armed struggled, based on putting unknown men and new recruits into a new structure. This new structure shall be a cell system… [The Republican youth organisation] Na Fianna Eireann should return to being an underground organisation with little or no public image. They should be educated and organised decisively to pass into the IRA cell structure when of age…

Ideally, a cell should consist of four people. Rural areas should be treated as separate cases to that of city and town brigade/command areas. For this reason, our proposals will affect mainly city and town areas, where the majority of our operations are carried out and where the biggest proportion of our support lies anyway.

All present volunteers under [the] old structure must be re-educated and given updated lectures in combating new interrogation techniques. Women and girls have greater roles to play as military activists and as leaders in sections of civil administration in propaganda and publicity…

Sinn Féin should come under Army organisers at all levels. Sinn Féin should employ full-time organisers in big Republican areas. Sinn Féin should be radicalised (under Army direction) and should agitate around social and economic issues which attack the welfare of the people. Sinn Féin should be directed to infiltrate other organisations to win support for, and sympathy to, the Movement. Sinn Féin should be re-educated and have a big role to play in publicity and propaganda departments.”

provisional ira staff report
Female volunteers training with the Provisional IRA during the early 1980s