What do you know about Northern Ireland?

IssueFebruary 2013
Feature by PN

The December 2012 de Silva report on the assassination of Belfast human rights lawyer Pat Finucane in 1989 led prime minister David Cameron to concede that there had been ‘shocking levels of collusion’ by the security forces in the killing. Cameron said he was ‘deeply sorry’ to the Finucane family.

The brief flurry of attention in the British media made us at PN reflect on the general level of knowledge and ignorance of the conflict in British activist circles. So here is a poll designed as a quiz!

Something to liven up a dull party (or meeting) – or to break the ice with that police officer....

Northern Ireland

1) When was Northern Ireland formed as an administrative unit?
a) 1169
b) 1798
c) 1921
d) 1969

2) How many counties are there in Northern Ireland?
a) Three
b) Six
c) Nine

3) How many counties were there in the historic province of Ulster?
a) Three
b) Six
c) Nine

4) How many political parties can you name that operate or used to operate in northern Ireland?
a) 0
b) 1-3
c) 4-6
d) 7+

Pat Finucane

5) What did the December 2012 de Silva report conclude about the role of the security forces in the assassination of Pat Finucane in February 1989?
a) Both the British army and the local Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) special branch had prior notice of a series of planned assassinations by the group that killed Pat Finucane, but did nothing to prevent these attacks.
b) The gun used to kill Pat Finucane was stolen by a local Ulster Defence Regiment soldier from an army barracks and sold by him to the UDA, the loyalist group that killed Pat Finucane.
c) British intelligence propaganda against Pat Finucane helped to legitimise him as a target for loyalist paramilitaries.
d) Local police probably proposed Pat Finucane as target to the UDA a few months before they killed him.
e) The British army and RUC special branch deliberately lied and/0r seriously obstructed investigations into Pat Finucane’s murder
f) All of the above.
g) None of the above.

6) What was the reaction of the Finucane family to the de Silva report?
a) ‘Finally, this report reveals the truth.’
b) ‘This report is a whitewash.’

7) What was the response of Amnesty International to the de Silva report?
a) ‘The British government is to be praised for its rigorous scrutiny of the actions of its agents during a time of conflict.’
b) ‘The Finucanes, and indeed the public, have been fobbed off with a “review of the paper work” — which reneges on repeated commitments by the British government and falls short of the UK’s obligations under international law.’

Different traditions

8) What does ‘unionist’ mean in the north of Ireland?
a) Pro-trade union rights
b) For the unification of the communities in the north
c) Supporting British rule over Northern Ireland
d) All of the above

9) What makes ‘loyalism’ distinct from unionism?
a) Loyalty to ‘Ulster’, not necessarily to UK
b) More working-class than middle-class
c) If religious, more fundamentalist/evangelical
d) All of the above

10) IRA stands for
a) Irish Republican Army
b) Irish Revolutionary Army
c) Ireland’s Real Army

11) From 1962-1969, what did the IRA leadership focus on?
a) Bomb attacks on the border
b) Bomb attacks in London
c) Assassinating local police
d) Supporting civil rights agitation

12) What happened at the start of ‘the Troubles’ in 1968-69?
a) Massive IRA attacks on government institutions and local security forces destabilised the Northern Ireland state
b) Local Protestant-dominated security forces launched violent attacks on Catholic areas after nonviolent civil rights protests, destabilising the state
c) Loyalist paramilitaries carried out anonymous bombings they knew would be attributed to the IRA, destabilising the state

13) How many unarmed demonstrators were shot dead by the British army on Bloody Sunday in 1972?
a) 14
b) 13
c) 2
d) 0

14) How many republicans died in the 1981 hunger strikes, demanding to be treated as political prisoners?
a) 14
b) 10
c) 5
d) 1

Tell us!

Below are the answers and how to score them. We would be really interested to know your score and your friends’ (or your group’s) scores. 

We’re particularly interested in grouping them by age. The age ranges we’re interested in are: over 55; 45-55; 35-45; 25-35; under-25s. Please write to the office, or email us at: editorial@peacenews.info

For more on the case of Pat Finucane, and other valuable human rights work, please visit the website of the Pat Finucane Centre (who were not involved in any way in the compiling of this quiz!): www.patfinucanecentre.org

Answers and scoring

1) c (2 points); 2) b (2pts); 3) c (2pts); 4) b (1pt) c (3pts) d (5pts); 5) a-e (1pt) f (2pts); 6) b (2pts) The Pat Finucane Centre condemned the conclusion that there was no ‘overarching conspiracy’ by the British government; it has uncovered documents showing that from the 1970s onwards, the UDA was regarded by the British security forces as a ‘release valve’ for ‘Protestant extremists’; 7) b (2pts) Amnesty supports the Finucane’s call for a full, public independent inquiry into the assassination of Pat Finucane; 8) c (1pt); 9) a-c (1pt) d (2pts); 10) a (2pts); 11) d (4pts); 12) both b and c correct (2pts each, 5pts for knowing both); 13) 13 unarmed nationalist demonstrators were shot dead by the British army on the day, one person died four months later from gunshot injuries inflicted by the army, so: a (1pt) b (2pts); 14) b (2pts).


0-7 You need to improve your multiple-choice guessing strategy
8-17 You know a bit more than the average Brit
18-28 You know a lot more than the average Brit
28-35 You probably have a good background knowledge of the conflict. Or you are a stupendous guesser.