A Northern Irish ‘citizenship’ test!

Tony throws a challenge to Slugger readers. Noting how the Dutch and Germans have devised a number of ‘tolerance tests’ of prospective immigrants, what norms would an Northern Irish test set for any would be burgher of Northern Ireland need to pass, just to fit in. Your bullet points please!!

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Harry Flashman

    I think the writer is being a bit disingenuous when he refers to the “Dutch test” which showed a video of two gay guys snogging. As I understand it this was not part of a test but was, shall we say, a warning about what to expect in Holland and if the applicant was uncomfortable about it then maybe he/she could consider applying to live in another country more amenable to their beliefs. A perfectly reasonable and fair proposition in my opinion.

  • mark

    For those that see real benefits in diversity and multiculturalism, like myself, this idea of forcing newly arrived communities to adapt a homogeneous national identity that does not even exist for native born communities seeks to negate many positives from newly arrived communities.

    I’d stick with simple –

    Will you endeavour to learn a language in use by the community you settle in?

    Do you promise to seek employment and remain employed if possible?

    Do you promise to refrain from crime?

    Do you promise to show tolerance and respect?

    Even at that you’d be asking more of the new arrivals than is exhibited from many native born.

    I see no reason for people to know who scored a goal against Spain, when which administration collapsed or who lived in a house knocked down on Rugby Ave.

  • Busty Brenda.

    They need to be able to get greasy Ulster fries down their neck early each morning, be able to understand the Strabane accent, be able to insult others in the name of humour,know the slang,and be able to register as prod or taig, (others are not tolerated!).

  • Harry Flashman


    Would the following question apply;

    Do you promise not to get all bent out of shape over a couple of lousy cartoons and not traipse half way round the world to the countries that you were so damn keen to get the hell out of in the first place whipping up murderous anger against the nation that now provides you sanctuary?

    Or am I being all intolerant and Daily Mailish here?

  • nutjack

    i’ll second that Ulster Fry motion – you gotta be able to eat 4 different types of fried bread and do without beans for breakfast to pass the test.

  • mark


    I think the tolerance bit covers that without the assumption that most/many would ‘whip up murderous anger’.

    It is still a stipulation that goes beyond that exhibited by many of the native born.

  • Harry Flashman

    Fair ’nuff Mark, however I don’t have a problem with demanding would be citizens have a better grasp of the culture of their adopted homeland than natives.

    I am currently applying for citizenship of the nation in which I am now resident. It’s an Asian country with a substantial Muslim population. The citizenship test demands that I speak the language competently and that I have a knowledge of the country’s history (and that I bribe the relevant examiner but we’ll leave that aside). My wife would be unable to answer most of the history questions but I have no problem with this whatsoever, I congratulate them on demanding a little bit extra from would be citizens.

    I think that as with the United States if you want the citizenship well you should be prepared to accept it the whole hog, otherwise why don’t you just stay at home?

  • Harry Flashman, correction noted, no disingenuity intended 🙂

    Running along the lines of the German / Dutch tests, surely there should be a question on…

    What famous Belfast footballer was one of the stars of the Manchester United team of the 1960’s?
    a) George Best
    b) George Hook
    c) George III

    What Gaelic Football player, also known as God, captained Tyrone to a second All-Ireland title in two years in 2005?
    a) Peter Canavan
    b) Bobby Sands
    c) Bono

    How does one assemble a pipe-bomb (diagrams optional)?

    How does one assemble a petrol-bomb (diagrams optional)?

    ‘Ireland’s Call’ is played every time Ulster rugby players play international games. What anthem does this song replace?
    a) God Save the Queen
    b) Amhrain na bhFiann
    c) Ode to Joy

    Which is the most famous road in Northern Ireland?
    a) Falls Road
    b) Shankill Road
    c) Garvaghy Road

    The Bogside is…
    a) A terrorist stronghold in Londonderry
    b) A unique community of peace loving catholics
    in Derry who just want to get along
    c) A place adjacent to a kind of turf moor

  • English

    Can you tolerate:

    1) different religions
    2) different ethnic groupings
    3) people of different sexual orientation
    4) different political persuassion

  • Joe

    Here’s how it works in Canada; not a bad model I think.

    To become a Canadian citizen you must:

    * be 18 years of age or older;
    * be a permanent resident of Canada;
    * have lived in Canada for at least three of the four years before applying;
    * be able to communicate in either English or French;
    * know about Canada;
    * know about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship;

    Rights and Freedoms

    Some rights and freedoms are:

    * legal rights;
    * equality rights;
    * mobility rights;
    * Aboriginal peoples’ rights;
    * freedom of thought;
    * freedom of speech;
    * freedom of religion; and
    * the right to peaceful assembly


    Some responsibilities are:

    * obey Canada’s laws;
    * express opinions freely while respecting the rights and freedoms of others; and
    * help others in the community;
    * care for and protect our heritage and environment;
    * eliminate discrimination and injustice.
    Citizens have all the rights listed above and the right to:

    * apply for a passport,
    * run in elections, and
    * vote in elections.

    Citizens have all the responsibilities listed above and the responsibility to:

    * vote in elections

  • http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/4099770.stm

    …didn’t The Beeb already highlight the attempts at defining (attempts to pidgeon hole) Britishness. I found it hilarious.

    I don’t think that many in NI would pass the test – some happily while other less so…!?!?

  • Grimesy

    They’ll have to enjoy Harp, rally-drving & John Player Black!

  • missfitz

    Um, what song did Ireland Call replace?

  • Amhrain na bhFiann

    I believe that the IRFU had an agreement or it was in their rules book that Amhrain na bhFiann
    would be sung before an international in Dublin while GSTQ would be for Ravenhill.

    Then they decided to meet in the middle…with the resulting great success.!?

    I believe that while on tour in Aussie the “Rose of Tralee” (or was it “Danny Boy”) was played in substitution of Amhrain na bhFiann. Uproar on the Marianne Finnucan show etc which subsequently faded to zero. The IRFU then adopted “Ireland’s Call” as their official but not generally accepted anthem.

    If Engurland play in Croker then we can expect to hear GSTQ and for any rugby there’ll be Ireand’s Call…not a peep of Amhrain na bhFiann in Croker and we thought we’d never see the day !?!?

  • missfitz

    Yeah but, I thought they played BOTH anthemns now? I totally stand to be corrected on this one, as I would not be one of the greatest sport experts about the place.

  • Both played at home games (Dublin, that is), and Ireland’s Call at away matches, as far as I’m aware. Not sure about Ravenhill. No doubt you’ll have picked up on the tongue in cheek nature of the ‘identity test’ question 🙂

    As for Croker, don’t be so sure GSTQ will be played there at the Six Nations match next year. Just as Scotland have Flower of Scotland and Wales have, erm, something about Valleys, or Bread of Heaven (not GSTQ anyway), there are already murmurs and talk that an English anthem may be played instead. I think I heard someone saying that England had a separate anthem for the Commonwealth Games, and possibly that one. Sorry my background is sketchy on this point, I’ll try and dig some more and update. The Union Jack will probably not go up either, just the Cross of St George.

    As an aside, on the flag issue, did you know that the name ‘Jackeen’, usually used as a derogatory term for Dubliners, actually refers to a group of Dublin college students who in a protest about some incident during the 800 years of oppression decided to pull the Union Jack down from its lofty position above the College? There are other versions of this story, but I like this one, even though I’m from Cork, and have used the term Jackeen as a derisive sobriquet for Dubs for many years, as in ‘Go on up the yard, you jackeen you,’ and so forth. Good times…

  • missfitz

    Anthony, are you referring to the supposed Charlie Haughey flag pulling down episode? If so, I bet Jackeen doesnt derive from then as it would pre-date that?

  • I’ve tried to find references to this story on the web, and can’t find anything conclusive. Some say it was during the Queen Victoria visit of 1840. Now that you mention it though, I think it was referred to in the Haughey progamme that RTE put together recently. Another definition of the term is less dramatic and refers to working-class west brits (http://www.thecraic.net/glossary.html – is it possible to hyperlink blog comments?).

    Generally, however, there appears to be a consensus that the term relates to the Union Jack, beyond that I fear we may be into urban legend territory…

  • David Christopher

    Anthony that’s an interesting story about Jackeens, I’d always thought it was a very old derogative country term for Dubliners who waved wee union jacks during Royal visits!!

    Funny how these tales and explanations change down the decades isn’t it?

  • David Christopher

    Mark proposed 4 questions to be asked of any new immigrants here:

    Will you endeavour to learn a language in use by the community you settle in?

    Do you promise to seek employment and remain employed if possible?

    Do you promise to refrain from crime?

    Do you promise to show tolerance and respect?

    I’d say the other half of the coin is to ask those questions of those who already live here:

    i) Will you endeavour to take an interest in the culture and historical story of our new immigrant communities?

    ii) Do you promise to treat our new citizens equally in respect of employment, and equally in respect of their rights while employed. In particular that they have the same right to be in a Trade Union as every other citizen.

    iii) Do you promise to refrain from hate crime and racism directed against our new communities?

    iv) Do you promise to show tolerance and respect?

    Personally I think immigration is a very positive and enriching thing for Northern Ireland – though we are only now facing up to challenges that the rest of the UK was faced with 30 years ago. Perhaps we can learn from the mainland’s experience and ensure a truly welcoming environment for all our new arrivals.

  • Jackeens…comes from James as in King James.

    Dublin was the center of British rule in Irel at the time of King James and so…

    I heard that the expression Kingdom for the most south westerly folk comes from them being awarded the term by Queen Eliz 1 for their loyalty to her. I’ve mentioned this to some Kerrymen and they were non too pleased.

  • Reader

    Question: Whose fault is it?
    Answer: Theirs
    (They will fit in here just fine …)

  • Brian Boru

    It would be impossible. Too divisive.