Terrorism Since 1969:  The Provisional IRA To 1998

As a part of GCSE History students will look at terrorism from 1969 up to the present day. This is the first of two quizzes on the subject, focussing on the Provisional Irish Republican Army, or the IRA.

The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) was the largest paramilitary group on the Republican side throughout the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland, that lasted from 1969 to 1998. After years of violent campaigning, regarded by its opponents as acts of terrorism, the IRA eventually agreed to a ceasefire that has persisted to the present day - notwithstanding rogue republican groups who continue the struggle.

See how much you know about the Provisional Irish Republican Army in this, the first of two quizzes on terrorism.

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  1. What nickname was given to the prison where most paramilitaries were held - newly built outside Belfast, and having a distinctive shape when viewed from the air?
    Loyalist and Republican prisoners were separated - hence the need for different blocks
  2. After 1981 IRA propaganda announced a new policy of "the ballot paper with one hand" and "the Armalite with the other". What was an Armalite?
    The IRA could rely on several sources of weaponry - they had many supporters in the United States
  3. The IRA's 1994 ceasefire broke down, and they resumed their bombing campaign on the British mainland. Which of the following English targets was attacked before the ceasefire was resumed?
    Careful diplomacy was needed to coax the IRA back to the negotiating table
  4. A remaining stumbling block was the question of paramilitary weapons. The word "de-commissioning" was frequently used to describe what should be done with them as a condition of a settlement. What does "de-commissioning" mean?
    The question of IRA arms was a tricky one: Republicans were reluctant to abandon their arms in case the armed struggle was to resume but Loyalists were hesitant to talk to Sinn Fein without an acceptable solution to the matter of weaponry
  5. The IRA split in 1969, when the Provisionals decided to embark on a campaign of "armed struggle" to force British troops to leave the Province. What was the name of the other faction that remained on ceasefire throughout?
    The issue that led to the split was an ideological one. The PIRA's opponents were Marxists, who despised sectarianism and preferred to appeal to the working class on both sides of the communal divide
  6. After 1976 Republican prisoners demanded to be treated as "Prisoners of War" and not as ordinary criminals. They launched a campaign in furtherance of this objective called the "blanket protest". What did this involve?
    When it was clear that the British government would not give in, the protesters decided to embark on hunger strikes
  7. In 1972 several Provisional leaders met a British cabinet minister in London to see whether any basis for a settlement existed. Who was the British minister involved?
    Neither side saw any point in continuing the conflict if there was a basis for compromise. In the event the Provisionals found that the terms which the British were prepared to concede fell far short of the Republicans' minimum demands
  8. When did the ceasefire by the IRA occur that enabled the Good Friday talks to continue?
    The IRA was still keen to take part in the talks
  9. The PIRA had a political wing. What was it called?
    Gradually the political wing took a more prominent role - until eventually it appeared to have a different agenda from the military wing
  10. Which of the following terms was used to describe IRA members by Unionists, Alliance Party supporters and the SDLP?
    There was no agreement among the parties about a suitable term

Author: Edward Towne

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