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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

Office of the Oversight Commissioner
synonyms: Oversight Commissioner
In the wake of the Good Friday Agreement an Independent Commission on Policing was set up in order to review the future role of policing in Northern Ireland and to make recommendations to the British government. In the final chapter of its report, commonly known as the Patten Report, a proposal was made that an independent figure, to be known as the Oversight Commissioner, should be appointed to ensure that the proposed changes were implemented in full. In turn the Oversight Commissioner was expected to carry out this task in a way that guaranteed public confidence and as a result to publish regular public reports. In May 2000 Tom Constantine, the former head of the US Drug Enforcement Administration was appointed to the post (2000-2003). Then in February 2003, Paul Murphy, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced an extended two-year term of the Oversight Commissioner for Policing Reform in Northern Ireland, meeting the original five-year term recommended by Patten. This coincided with an announcement by Tom Constantine that he would retire from the position in December 2003. As a result Al Hutchinson, existing Chief of staff, was invited to take up the position of Oversight Commissioner which he did on 1 January 2004. The terms of the governing legislation that established the Office of the Oversight Commissioner expired on 31 May 2007, which was also the date of the 19th and final report.

List of Reports by the Office of the Oversight Commissioner

[Old Web Site:]

Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA)
synonyms: 'Officials'; 'Stickies'
The Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) was the term given to the remnants of the IRA following the split in 1970 when many members left to form the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA). At the time of the split Cathal Goulding was Chief of Staff of the IRA. Goulding was trying to make the IRA a more political organisation and in particular to end the abstentionist policy. While initially the OIRA was the larger of the two groups, the PIRA quickly gained new recruits, and some former members of the OIRA, to become the largest Republican paramilitary organisation in Ireland. There were a number of feuds between the two groups in the early 1970s. The OIRA called a ceasefire in 1972 and has been largely inactive since that date. The OIRA did however engage in a feud in 1975 with the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP). There have also been allegations during the 1980s and 1990s that the OIRA was still in existence. The alleged connections between the OIRA and the Workers' Party (WP) in early 1992 led to a split in the WP and the formation of Democratic Left. During the period 1969 to 1979 the OIRA killed 49 people of whom 13 were members of the security forces. During the same period approximately 21 members of the OIRA were killed.
On 8 February 2010 a statement was issued on behalf of the OIRA indicating that the organisation had carried out decommissioning under the remit of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD).

Membership: The OIRA called a ceasefire in 1972. There have been a number of incidents since then attributed to the 'Officials' and it is possible that a small number of people still belong to a remnant of that organisation (the Irish Times, on 14 May 1998, referred to this remnant as 'Group B' but the term was coined as far back as the 1970s).
Arsenal: Prior to decommissioning it was believed that the OIRA possessed 300-400 rifles; a small number of heavy machineguns; and dozens of hand guns.

Official Republican Movement (ORM)
A group which formed early in 1998 following a split in the Workers' Party in 1997. The ORM drew its support from those who had supported the Offical Irish Republican Army (OIRA) which has been on ceasefire since 1972. The group was believed to have supporters in Belfast, Newry, Dublin, and other areas in the Republic of Ireland.

Óglaigh na hÉireann (ONH)
(Óglaigh na hÉireann is an Irish term for 'Volunteers of Ireland', or 'Irish Volunteers'.)
synonyms: Irish Republican Army (IRA); Dissident Republicans
The term Óglaigh na hÉireann - while the Irish term for the (official/legal) Irish Army - has been used down through the years by many republican paramilitary groupings including the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA). With regard to dissidents, a group called Óglaigh na hÉireann is believed to have formed in late 2005 or early 2006 following a split from the Continuity IRA. First mentioned in the eighth report of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) (1 February 2006); also in later reports. The group was believed to be responsible for a number of pipe-bomb attacks in 2006 and also a series of hoax devices and some robberies. The eighteenth report of the IMC (1 May 2008) claimed that ONH was responsible for the killing of Andrew Burns on 12 February 2008. However, it is thought that this particular grouping went out of existence, and - along with others - the IMC by 2009 was to use the term ONH specifically to describe a new dissident faction which had emerged out of the ‘real’ Irish Republican Army (rIRA).

Official Unionist Party (OUP)
(See: Ulster Unionist Party.)

Omagh Community Trauma and Recovery Team
An orgainsation set up to support victims of the conflict.
(See: Details on vicitims organisations.)

Omagh Support and Self Help Group
The Omagh Support and Self Help Group (OSSHG) was founded in the aftermath of the Omagh Bomb on Saturday 15 August 1998. The group acts as a source of support and solace for those adversely affected by the bombing.
(See: Details on vicitims organisations.)
[Web Site]

Orange Cross, The (OC)
An organisation associated with the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) which sought to provide aid for sentenced and remand prisoners. The organisation was formed in the early 1970s. The organisation produced a periodical (/magazine) 'The Orange Cross'; 102 copies were deposited with PRONI in June 2021.
See: Publications available on CAIN

Orange Order (OO)
synonym: Loyal Orange Institution
The largest of the three main Loyal Orders. The Orange Order was founded on 21 September 1795 and currently has between 80,000 to 100,000 members. The order has strong links with the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). There are several thousand parades and marches each year associated with the Orange Order and the bands which play in the parades. Although there are parades all year round the climax occurs on 12 July each year when Orangemen celebrate the victory of King William III (William of Orange) over the Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Most of the parades pass off peacefully but there are a number of contentious parades through Catholic areas and there has been considerable violence associated with them over the past few years. The Rev. Martin Smyth was the Grand Master of the Orange Order from 1971 to December 1996. The current Grand Master is Robert Saulters who was elected to the post in December 1996.

Kennedy, B. (ed.) (1990) A Celebration: 1690-1990, The Orange Institution.

[Web Site]

Orange Volunteers (OV)
A Loyalist paramilitary group formed in the early 1970s which was associated with the Orange Order. The group was headed by Bob Marno an ex-serviceman. At one time the OV was the second largest Loyalist paramilitary group after the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). The OV was also associated with the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The organisation was involved in the Ulster Workers Council strike of 1974 and it also supported the Loyalist strike of 1977. The OV was believed to have ceased to exist during the 1980s.
During 1998 a Loyalist paramilitary group using the name Orange Volunteers (OV) claimed responsibility for a number of attacks on Catholics and Catholic property. It is believed the new group is made up of dissident Loyalists, from a number of other paramilitary organisations, who are opposed to the Good Friday Agreement. It is believed that the OV are comprised of former members of the Loyalist Voluntee Force (LVF) and also elements of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF). The OV appeared on the scene at approximately the same time as the Red Hand Defenders (RHD) another group of dissident Loyalists who are opposed to the peace Agreement. The police have expressed the opinion that the OV and the RHD share the same membership. On Tuesday 19 January 1999 David Ervine, then leader of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), claimed on BBC Radio Ulster that the OV was largely made up of Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) members and was a combination of Protestant fundamentalists and drug dealers.

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: Red Hand Defenders.)

Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF)
The Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF) was formed in September 2000 to act as a forum in the effort to combat serious and organised crime. The OCTF's area of responsibility includes any criminal activity conducted by paramilitary groups. The OCTF brings together the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), HM Revenue and Customs, the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the Home Office, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA), and the Northern Ireland Government Departments.
List of Reports by the Organised Crime Task Force
[Web Site]

Organisation founded by Nancy Gracey to campaign on behalf of people suffering from intimidation and violence at the hands of paramilitary groups. Nancy Gracey was formally a founding member of Families Against Intimidatin and Terror (FAIT).

Oversight Commissioner
(See: Office of the Oversight Commissioner.)

(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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