Glossary of Irish Terms and Acronyms

A glossary of terms and acronyms in daily use in Ireland, with an emphasis on the 6-counties. Taken from a variety of sources and slightly updated from the last time this was distributed. Additions or corrections welcomed.


  • 26 Counties: Most of Ireland; became independent from Britain after the Easter rising of 1916 and the war of independence fought by the IRA between 1919-1922; also called the `Free State', 'Eire' or 'the Republic'.
  • 6 Counties: Also called 'the North'. Portion of Ireland under British government rule, which usually refers to it as 'Northern Ireland'. Called 'Ulster' by unionists.


  • A Chara (Pron: oh KORR-oh): Irish Gaelic introduction to letter, meaning 'Friend'. Plural is A Chairde (Pron: oh KARR-DYEH)
  • AAI: Australian Aid for Ireland - Irish Republican solidarity organisation in Australia
  • Aer Lingus (Pron: AYR LING-uss): Irish national airline
  • Alliance Party: A small northern political party which wishes to maintain the union with Britain. Led by Seamus Close
  • An Phoblacht/Republican News (Pron: onn FUB-lockt): The official newspaper of the Irish Republican Movement.
  • An Post (Pron: onn PUST): The semi-state body operating the postal service.
  • AOH: Ancient Order of Hibernians. Irish Catholic organisation based in the US.
  • AP/RN: An Phoblacht/Republican News
  • Ard Chomhairle (Pron: ORD KOW-ir-leh): Leadership or 'high council.'
  • Ard Fheis (Pron: ORD ESH): Annual Convention, usually of a Political Party.


  • BBC: British Broadcasting Corporation. Available in much of Ireland
  • Bord Failte (Pron: BURD FAWL-che): The Irish Tourist Board.
  • Bus Eireann (Pron: bus AIR-inn): A subsidiary of CIE responsible for bus services outside of Dublin.


  • Cabinet: Government decision making body. Chaired by Taoiseach. Government Ministers. The Attorney General and the Chief Whip are seated members but cannot participate in decision-making.
  • Cairde Sinn Fein (Pron. CARD-yeh SHINN FAYN) Support organisation for Sinn Fein (inside the US, see Friends of Sinn Fein)
  • Clann na nGael: (Pron. KLON noh NGAYLE) US-based Irish Republican organisation
  • CLMC: Combined Loyalist Military Command - a now defunct grouping of the loyalist paramilitary UVF, UFF/UDA and the Red Hand Commando
  • CIE: Coras Iompair Eireann (The former State Transport Company).
  • Coiste na n-Iarchimi (Pron. KISH-te noh NEER-chi-MEE) - Umbrella organisation working for former Irish Republican political prisoners
  • Connolly Association: British-based Republican organisation campaigning for Irish re-unification and independence.
  • Conradh na Gaeilge (Pron: CUNN-rah noh GAYLE-geh): Organization devoted to the preservation and promotion of Irish language and culture.
  • Constituency: Electoral region, usually about 30,000-40,000 voters.
  • Cumann (Pron: KUMM-onn): Local organisation or constituent 'society' of a larger organisation.


  • Dail (Pron. DAWL): Parliament of the 26 counties.
  • DOE: (British) Department of the Environment
  • DHSS: (British) Department of Health and Social Services
  • Drumcree: Site of major confrontations for past several years between Orange Order marchers and local nationalist residents.
  • DUP: Democratic Unionist Party - Extreme Unionist party. Led by Ian Paisley.


  • Eire (Pron. AY-reh): Irish Gaelic name for Ireland
  • EU: European Union; formerly EC or EEC.


  • Feile: (Pron. FAY-leh) Festival
  • Fleadh: (Pron. FLAH) Traditional music gathering, with competitions
  • F.F.: Fianna Fail (Pron. FEEN-oh FAWL): - 26-County Political Party; conservative, generally nationalist - led by Bertie Ahern.
  • F.G.: Fine Gael (Pron. FIN-eh GAYLE): - 26-County Political Party; conservative, with more secular social policies; generally unionist. Led by Michael Noonan..
  • FOSF: Friends of Sinn Fein - US based lobby and fund-raising organisation for Sinn Fein.
  • Foyle: The Derry region and river/estuary


  • GAA: Gaelic Athletic Association (Governing Body for Hurling, Gaelic Football, and Handball).
  • Gaeltacht (Pron. GAIL-tockt): Irish Speaking Regions.
  • Garda (Pron. GORR-doh): Police - Full name is Garda Siochana ("Guardians of the peace"). Gardai (Pron. GORR-DEE) is the plural of Garda.


  • H-Blocks; components of Long Kesh prison; site of 1981 hunger strike
  • House of Commons: Lower chamber of the British parliament at Westminster


  • IAUC: Irish-American Unity Conference
  • ICMSA: Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association
  • ICTU: Irish Congress of Trade Unions
  • IDA: Ireland Industrial Development Authority (State body chartered to attract foreign industry.)
  • IDB: Industrial Development Board (British state body chartered to attract foreign industry to the 6-counties).
  • IFA: Irish Farmers' Association
  • INAC: Irish Northern Aid Committee - US-based Republican support organisation.
  • INLA: Irish National Liberation Army (small republican socialist organisation, now on ceasefire).
  • IPLO: Irish People's Liberation Organisation (Breakaway group from INLA, now defunt).
  • IRA: Irish Republican Army - army of Irish Volunteers engaged in armed struggle against the British forces in Ireland, now on ceasefire
  • IRSM: Irish Republican Socialist Movement (includes the INLA and a political party, the IRSP) - opposed to IRA ceasefire
  • ITV: Independent Television. British television channel, available in Ireland as UTV.


  • Labour Party: Small 26-County political party; left of centre on many issues. Led by Ruairi Quinn. The British equivalent, led by Tony Blair, is the party of government at Westminster
  • Leinster House: The seat of the Irish parliament
  • Long Kesh: Large prison which formerly housed most 6-county political prisoners; the H-Blocks are located here.
  • Loyalism: A sort of Unionism, traditionally more disposed to violence; proponents are 'loyal' to Great Britain. Includes a number of paramilitary organisations which have worked in collusion with British forces.
  • LVF: Loyalist Volunteer Force - a loyalist paramilitary organisation not on 'ceasefire' - broke away from UVF in Mid-Ulster area


  • Maze: British name for Long Kesh
  • MEP: Member of the European Parliament.
  • MI5: British military 'intelligence' organisation; operates undercover in Ireland, often in collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.
  • MP: Member of (the British) Parliament.


  • NIWC: Northern Ireland Women's Coalition
  • NIO: Northern Ireland Office - the administrative headquarters for the North, headed by Britain's direct ruler Mo Mowlam and a team of British government ministers.
  • Noraid: See INA


  • Oireachtas (Pron. irr-ACK-tos): Name to cover both houses of the 26-County Parliament (ie. The Dail and the Seanad) and the President.
  • Orange Order: Extreme anti-Catholic religious/political organisation in 6-Counties; opposes 'popery'; Unionist/Loyalist in political allegiance. Led by Robert Saulters.


  • PD: Progressive Democrats - Political party founded in the late 80's by Fianna Fail dissidents; policies variable.
  • PR: Proportional Representation - voting system employed in 26-Counties, namely STV - single transferable vote.
  • PUP: Progressive Unionist Party - small fringe unionist party associated with the UVF.


  • 'Real' IRA: Small new republican organisation engaged in armed actions. Claim to be "the true IRA". Goals are similar to those of RSF.
  • Red Hand Commando: Another loyalist paramilitary organisation, part of the CLMC.
  • Republican Movement: Describes the principle modern incarnation of the Irish republican tradition which draws on 18th century French republicanism and historical Irish influences, including Wolfe Tone, the United Irishmen, Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Easter Rising. Includes Sinn Fein and the IRA.
  • RIR: Royal Irish Regiment - British Army regiment formed in 1992 with the amalgamation of the UDR and Royal Irish Rangers.
  • RSF: Republican Sinn Fein - small breakaway Republican political party. Goals are similar to those of the 'Real' IRA.
  • RTE: Radio Telefis Eireann (Pron. RAH-dee-oh TELL-if-eesh AIR-inn): (The state-owned broadcasting authority). RTE1 and Network2 are its two television channels.
  • RUC: Royal Ulster Constabulary - British militarised police force in the 6-Counties.


  • SAS: Special Air Services (An undercover wing of the British Army, some of whose members operate in the 6-Counties, largely above the law).
  • SDLP: Social Democratic and Labour Party (A nationalist political party in the 6-Counties).
  • Seanad (Pron. SHAN-odd): Senate (or upper house of Parliament) - must approve all legislation before it can become law. Styled on the British House of Lords.
  • Sinn Fein (Pron. SHINN FAYN): A political party within the Republican movement working for peace, justice and equality. Led by Gerry Adams
  • Slan: (Pron. SLAWN): Irish Gaelic for 'Farewell'.
  • Sky TV: British satellite TV station owned by Rupert Murdoch
  • Stormont: Buildings employed by several 6-County parliaments. Seat of British rule in Ireland.
  • STV: SIngle transferable vote - see PR.


  • Taoiseach (Pron. TEE-shack): Prime Minister (Head of Government - the President is Head of State)
  • Tanaiste (Pron. TAW-nish-teh): Deputy Prime Minister.
  • T.D.: Teachta Dala (Member of the Dail).
  • TOM: Troops Out Movement - British based organisation working to bring about a withdrawal of British forces from Ireland.
  • Tories: British Conservative Party of government in Britain; supports continuing British occupation in Ireland. Led by William Hague.


  • UDA: Ulster Defence Association, a loyalist paramilitary organisation in the 6-Counties, synonymous with the UFF; worked largely in co-operation with undercover British forces.
  • Udaras na Gaeltachta (Pron. OOD-or-AWCE noh GALE-tock-tah): State-sponsored body responsible responsible for the development of industry and the language in Irish speaking areas.
  • UDC: Urban District Council.
  • UDP: Ulster Democratic Party - small unionist party with one or two elected councillors. Associated with the UDA/UFF.
  • UDR: Ulster Defence Regiment (Now renamed - a regiment of the British Army which operates in the 6 Counties. Amalgamated into the RIR.)
  • UFF: Ulster Freedom Fighters (A loyalist paramilitary organisation. Synonymous with the UDA.)
  • UKUP: United Kingdom Unionist Party. Small new unionist Party. Led by Bob McCartney.
  • Ulster: Province of Ireland. Nine counties, including the 6 Counties and Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan.
  • Unionism: Political philosophy supporting maintainence of British rule of the 6 Counties.
  • United Kingdom: Defined by British government as Britain and its offshore islands but also the 6 counties.
  • USI: Union of Students in Ireland.
  • UTV: Ulster Television - the independent commercial television channel serving the 6-Counties, part of ITV
  • UUP: Ulster Unionist Party - largest unionist party. Led by David Trimble
  • UVF: Ulster Volunteer Force (Loyalist paramilitary organisation). Allied to the PUP.


  • Westminster: Seat of the British parliament in London, including the House of Commons (lower chamber) and the House of Lords (upper chamber)

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