IRA Army Council
The IRA Army Council was the decision-making body of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, a paramilitary group dedicated to bringing about independence to the whole island of Ireland and the end of the Union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The Council had seven members, said by the British and Irish governments to have included Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Féin. The Independent Monitoring Commission declared in 2008 that the council was "no longer operational or functional," but that it had not dissolved.
The IRA was a proscribed organization under the terms of the in the Republic of Ireland and under equivalent anti-terrorist legislation in the United Kingdom, making membership of it a criminal offence. In the Republic, trials for membership take place in the Special Criminal Court (where three judges hear cases without a jury, on the evidence of a Garda superintendent or higher rank) and carries a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment.
On 20 February 2005, Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell publicly named Ferris, Gerry Adams, and Martin McGuinness, Sinn Féin's chief negotiator, as members of the Army Council during a radio interview. The three men issued a statement the next day denying the charge.
On 27 July 2005, McDowell expressed his belief that Adams, McGuinness, and Ferris had recently (within the previous few days) left the IRA Army Council. However he also claimed that it was his opinion that this by itself did not necessarily amount to a permanent split between the two organisations.
On 20 October 2015, the , commissioned by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on the structure, role and purpose of paramilitary organisations reported that the structures of the IRA remain in existence "in a much reduced form", including "a senior leadership, the 'Provisional Army Council' and some 'departments'", but that they are not recruiting members. It concluded that the IRA still has access to some weapons, but have not sought to procure more since at least 2011. It also said that IRA members believe the Army Council oversees both the IRA and Sinn Féin.
The Sunday Times reported in July 2005 that security sources believed that the current Army Council consisted of: