Tir Connaill - Free Us From Partition And Let The Land Around Us Awaken!!

Finnian O Domhnaill discusses the impact of partition with particular reference to his native Donegal. Finnian O Domhnaill is political writer from Donegal, currently living in Derry. He is the creator of the political page No Bones About It. Here he writes about what partition has done to his county and what Irish Unity could bring to the whole northwest region of Ireland.

As a child growing up in 90's Ireland in Donegal, I was raised on the fringes of the conflict that went on in the North, never knowing it's full effects and only seeing TV news or glancing at papers my father and mother were reading. On school trips we would rarely go into Derry and when we did, I noticed a slow down of the traffic. I soon realised we had reached the border, being checked by cameras on the road to be searched for bombs or guns. Being looked over by men in army gear and unfamiliar police uniforms.

As the years went by, adolescence beckoned with its’ insecurities, pimples and female fascinations. I found my peers and I were referred to as the “post conflict generation”. A generation of peace and reconciliation, a word that would become a favourite of the Northern Executive. A generation of change, prosperity and a new outlook in the North and South of Ireland. But surely the older generation were to know that the past would soon creep up and rear its ugly head again.

Unbeknownst to some of us was that the effect of partition was still looming over our generation, still holding Donegal back from prosperity, from equality, from national inclusion and further economic, educational, financial, and healthcare development.

In 1922, Partition came into full effect, dividing Ireland into two. The six county statelet of Northern Ireland, remaining part of the U.K and the Irish Free State, being granted dominion status of the Commonwealth of nations by the British Government. This still left the crown head of the Irish Free State. I am under no illusion, as a child of the “post conflict generation”, that partition was and remains a sectarian solution to a political problem and has only depleted the island's potential for prosperity.

In what could be viewed as the insurrection of the two parliaments, partition has left County Donegal isolated from both the North and the so called ‘‘Republic’’ of Ireland. Partition has left Donegal underdeveloped and ignored time and time again by those in power who did not, or would not, hear the voices of those who have been crying out for recognition.
Railway network in 1920 and railway network today

The decimation of Donegal's 112 miles of railways is evidence of the effect of partition as even today there is no railway in the county. The only cross border train is the Dublin to Belfast line. The picture above shows the erosion of our railway in Donegal and other border counties. This cut off has left not just Donegal, but the entire Northwest of Ireland without a railway system. In the entire North there is only one other rail line going from Derry city, along the North coast, to Belfast.

Donegal was mainly bog land, particularly around the West. Other land, rocky and mountainous, only used for sheep grazing. Local famers and/or business men would have dug up the railway line for potato drills. This was not a blatant disrespect of tradition or conservationism. This was survival.

The healthcare sector of Donegal has never been given the chance to develop due to the isolation of partition and the underdevelopment of the county. There are no cancer treatment centres, the closest one a gruelling journey to Galway of up to 4 or more hours depending on where in Donegal you live. This also spills into the southern border counties, people from Monaghan and Cavan travelling to Galway or Dublin. But it doesn’t end there. To get there you can hitch a ride by bus from a charity organisation which is not government funded. In the North, people from Derry, Fermanagh and Tyrone often have to make the journey to Belfast for cancer treatments. In the past people were unable to attend hospitals or doctors from North to South and vice versa. This still applies in some cases for the unemployed and retirees. Cross border workers are allowed free NHS and medical cards in some cases but not all.

Mental health has become an epidemic, for both civilians and ex - combatants, due in part to partition's aftermath; the conflict in the North. Partition has a direct correlation to poverty which in turn directly correlates to depression, addiction and suicide. Many Donegal natives suffer mental health issues, suffer from the county's inadequate mental health services, and suffer the inter generational impact today. Combatants who went on the run (OTR's), found escape from criminal convictions from Northern Ireland's judicial system in the border counties. Unable to return home to their families and friends, these OTR's became isolated and fell into depression, addiction and even suicide. A former member of the republican movement has stated that he ''firmly believes partition has caused that''.

As previously mentioned Donegal suffered agriculturally due to poor land in the west of the county, but also through the war of independence and the civil war. During the economic war between the Free State and Britain from 1932 - 1938, Donegal had already been through a near famine epidemic less than ten years previous. The economic war nearly crippled its farming industry that consisted of over 50% of the land. Most of the arable land, dairy and cattle producing farms were owned by Protestant Unionists in the east of the county and could not find much profit from the poor West side of Donegal. As a result of partition many of these farmers took their business and money north of the border, pulling commerce out of the South and into the hands of the British financial system. This further depleted Donegal's potential for economic and agricultural growth and still goes on today. The pictures below show a clear correlation of farms and arable land in the east of Donegal, owned by Ulster Protestant Unionists, whose ancestors settled during the plantation, and the poorer, often unfertile land in the West, which Irish Catholic Nationalists owned after previous generations were displaced and resettled.

The striped black and white areas showed people of a Catholic, Irish speaking majority, The grey areas showed a Presbyterian, Scots - Irish dialect majority and the cream areas showed a Protestant Anglo - Irish dialect majority. Census 1911

The white areas on the map shows where The poor or unarable and sheep grazing land consists while the red areas shows Cattle farming, the yellow areas show tillage, the black is used for crops the blue area shows Dairy farming and the green areas are used for grazing. Census 1991

In my youth, my mother and I would travel to Meenaneary, in the Southwest of the county where my grandparents, uncle's, aunties and cousins all resided. I remember my aunty taking us to Slieve League and telling us how, when she was a child, she would go out to the cliffs of Slieve League. '' Nobody knew about this place' she said. 'There was never anyone here and it felt like our own private paradise'. To a lesser extent this is still evident today in Ireland as many in the south are still unaware of Donegal's tourist attractions. It never surprises me when I take friends from Dublin up to Donegal and see their faces in awe and hear the familiar line , '' I never knew about this place'.'

Tourism in Donegal was practically non-existent in the beginnings of partition. People from Nationalist Catholic areas would go to places such as Buncrana and Bundoran while those of a Loyalist Protestant majority would flock to Portstewart or Portrush. This sectarian division of partition limited the amount of tourism to Donegal. As the conflict in the north began to rage in the late 60's and 70's, Donegal became even more isolated from the rest of Ireland. People from the South seen ''the black North'' as the whole of Ulster and became cautious of frequenting Tir Connaill, to drive up and still be in the South involved taking the longer trip from some areas, e.g. Dublin, into Leitrim and through the county's corridor into Donegal. This idea of the whole province being under British rule still resonates today for Southerners. While working in Galway I was asked by a Roscommon man, 'What's the sterling rate nowadays up in Donegal? And from my Dublin friends, ''You black nordies are all the same'.'

And so nowadays while there is a somewhat steady flow of tourists into Donegal there is also a flow of Irish money going out. Tens of thousands of people travel to Derry for shopping trips, nights out etc. and in turn take money out of the local economy and place it in the North. This is also evident in the Strabane area where many people from Donegal go over the border to buy cheaper alcohol and food shopping furthering the depletion of Tir Connail's economic development. What's also evident is people travelling to the North with a U.K visa cannot visit Donegal, losing out on potential money, and vice versa for the Northern border counties missing out tourism opportunities for visitors with a visa for the South.

These points highlight the effect of partition on Donegal, the border counties and also the North. There is a clear and strong argument that what’s needed to improve the lives of all involved, is to have a national referendum for a 32 county sovereign republic. In this united Ireland we can propose that the actual Northwest region of the island would be able to focus on and resolve issues such as healthcare, commerce and economic underdevelopment, agriculture and fishing, tourism and infrastructure.

Taking Brexit into consideration; the very strong possibility of a hard border; EU funding being cut completely; tarriffs put in place for goods and services; Sinn Fein's new economic report detailing the potential of generating over 35 billion euro within eight years of Irish unity, an all Ireland republic is becoming an increasingly attractive idea and a possible reality. If an all Ireland sovereign republic is implemented the Northwest region of the island would benefit massively.

The total value of fish landed in Northern Ireland’s three primary fishing ports in 2015 amounted to £20.8 million. Allowing our Northern neighbors to share the spoils of the whole islands waters would generate a more abundant Ireland. Dick James, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Fish Producers Organisation has said ''reduced quotas, red tape and restrictions have been disastrous'' as he was relating to the EU strangle hold over the six county's fishing industry. Ireland's fishing industry is reported to be worth 1 billion euro a year by 2020. Northern Ireland receives 23.5 million euro from The European Maritime & Fisheries Funds (EMFF) , while the European Commission reports that the E.U will give €147.6m to the South of Ireland's fishing industry in 2014-2020.

The Irish Government is providing an additional €94m in co-funding, meaning there’s a total of over €241m available. With the strong chance of this funding being lost in the North due to Brexit, a sovereign all Ireland republic with a unified fishing industry would benefit County Donegal's economy as well as the rest of the island. Under this new Ireland our sovereignty must be respected by the E.U and less bureaucracy would need to be put in place.

This same proposal must also apply to the agricultural industry in a united sovereign republic. According to the Ulster Farmers Union, the agri-food sector generates £4.5 billion a year in Northern Ireland while receiving €350 million from E.U funding. In the republic, Teagasc reported that in 2015, the agri-food sector generated €13.54 billion and receives €1.2 billion in E.U funding. A combined agricultural industry would benefit the Northwest region of a united Ireland, as stated previously about farmers taking business North of the border, no money would be lost by going to the U.K market of the six counties.

In regards to tourism, unity would reap huge benefits for the North West. As stated previously, people with a U.K visa feel they are unable to travel South into Donegal leaving potential income for the county at a loss. This is also evident for people on an Irish visa who think they cannot enter the North. Of course, in an all Ireland republic that matter would be resolved immediately.

In a United Ireland the whole Northwest region of Ireland can work as one single tourist attraction consisting of counties Donegal, Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh. Northern Ireland's tourism sector brings in £764 million according to NI business info while Failte Ireland reported in 2015 that tourism in the republic made a colossal €7.7 billion. Combining these two tourist sectors and implementing a North West tourist attraction region would generate more income to the island as a whole. . In a united Ireland, money will remain in the economy. This new Ireland will also attract today's cautious Southerners to the North, as well as attracting more Northerners to come “South”.

It should also be noted that a united Ireland will have one single currency. Instead of tens of thousands of people taking the trip into Derry, Strabane, Newry etc. and passing over their money to the U.K, it will remain in Ireland, accumulating more income for the Northwest region, border counties and the whole country. This will compel people to perhaps spend their money in their local areas, in turn, helping small businesses and smaller towns such as Lifford and Letterekenny to flourish. This increased revenue, job growth and removal of the financial border can only benefit the entire surrounding region of Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh also, no longer to the detriment of Donegal that we have seen through two currencies in the region.

The healthcare sector could benefit immensely. Donegal's place in the Irish health sector has been blended with the province of Connacht, leaving vital services spread out and inevitably resulting in people travelling extreme distances for services. Under a united Ireland, a complete overhaul of health services could see free healthcare for all. This will give everyone on the island the entitlement to attend hospital and doctor appointments regardless of residency, employment status, age or medical condition. The North West could be granted a designated healthcare sector region which could consist of Donegal, West Derry, West Tyrone, and North West Fermanagh resulting in more localised healthcare. Decentralisation of services results in greater accountability of budget allocation. Ironically, this proposed new healthcare region would somewhat resemble the old territory of the O Neill's.

Furthermore, a cancer treatment centre for all cancers could be created to ease the burden of people in the Northwest who have to travel to Galway, Belfast or Dublin. A combined all Ireland health service could reduce costs and raise healthcare standards. Alluding to an earlier point, it can also be argued that ex combatants will be able to return to their homes and families, reducing depression, addiction and suicide for this group. Rehab centres could work under one system as Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan currently operate separately to the other six counties of Ulster which work within U.K regulation and legislation. This would also apply to hospitals, doctors surgery etc.

Finally, Infrastructure. Investment could be made into a new all Ireland Republic to link once again the railway lines of the North West region into the rest the island. A nationalised all island railway system could provide the region with a rail service from Donegal to Sligo via Leitrim, linking up with Galway and into the rest of the country. It could also be linked to Derry, in turn, linking up with Belfast and Dublin. A direct railway line from Derry to Dublin could also be created, connecting Tyrone, Monaghan and county Armagh. This rail could also be joined with Cavan and Fermanagh which would go to Galway via Sligo. This regeneration of the railway would further connect the North to the South. It would also bring employment and development to border areas and counties, making them a more attractive option for potential investment. Environmentally a modern railway system would reduce traffic and emissions.

The new motorway from Derry to Belfast, first proposed over 50 years ago, could finally get underway under the control of one government and no longer be embroilled in the historically sectarian lack of investment West of the Bann, which Donegal has suffered the consequences of also.

In conclusion, I intended to point out what the benefits of Irish unity would mean to Donegal and the North West region of the island. What has been realised is that not only will Donegal benefit, but thrive in a new sovereign 32 county Irish republic. The surrounding counties and whole island will benefit from many aspects of Irish unity. The strong arguments and clear benefits of unity are evident. From tourism and healthcare to fishing and infrastructure, from agriculture to economics, the people and communities of Ireland would see a better way of life. There are other areas unexplored that could benefit from an all island economy, such as water supply, electricity, renewable energy, education, a national grid, environmental and conservation issues, civil and social service sectors, government departments etc. Instead of two separate regulations, jurisdictions and legislation, the amalgamation of one system would save millions, generate billions and improve the standards of our shared, inclusive Ireland for all.

Structures should now be put into place by all political parties North and South to discuss a new sovereign 32 county republic. The British government should be informed on the matters discussed but have no say or influence what so ever on any proposals. Representatives in Brussels should also be involved and informed on matters discussed and/or proposed but should also have no influence on any matters that arise. Sovereignty should mean sovereignty.

A clear, concise and agreed arrangement between all political parties of a united Ireland must be reached and a national referendum should be called for the people to decide. Further planning and steps should be provided to make sure the transition of partitioned Ireland to United Ireland be carefully managed. Furthermore the E.U should provide extra funding for the process as it did for the reunification of Germany. Britain should also give further funding to the new Republic and a lowering of that funding until a complete cut off throughout the process of unity.

As a sovereign Republic that grants the people the true power of a nation, to determine its own destiny and self determination, it is up to us, the people of Donegal, the North West, Ulster and our whole island to make this a reality.

Onwards to the republic, comrades and onwards, to freedom.

Tir Connaill Abu!!

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

48 comments to ''Tir Connaill - Free Us From Partition And Let The Land Around Us Awaken!!"

  1. So now the Brits are responsible for the economic neglect of Donegal in perpetuity since partition?

    That's a very long bow you are pulling there. Not quite as long as the 35 BILLION euro in 8 years the Shinners are saying. Never trust the economics of a political party seeking power.

    Pointing the sectarian finger is unseemly, especially as I get the feeling of sectarianism as an undercurrent throughout this piece.

    I suppose it does not matter in the end, the piece itself offers nothing to the people of NI apart from dodgy economics.

  2. Steve R. Thanks for your input. You can see it as sectarian all you want. Its not my place to disprove your opinion of this piece. I believe that yes, the then British Government and successive governments had a part to play in the ''economic neglect of Donegal in perpetuity since partition''. I don't think I'm pulling a long bow as you put it as the six counties were carved up by unionists and granted by the British Government to be implemented. The statelet seemed to be formed on a smash and grab basis, not thought through at all and was never going to work as proven 1 century on. Regarding Sinn Fein's economic outcome on unity I would agree that 35 billion may not be the correct figure however, there is no denying in my view that Irish unity will economically benefit the whole of Ulster as well as the rest of the country. As regards as this sectarian theme you find from the piece I would have to disagree. I grew up in Donegal and have done my research on partition and its effects. I am a socialist republican and I wrote the facts. Simple. I wholeheartedly disagree with partition not just emotionally but because it doesnt make sense from any aspect I look at it. I wish to see a 32 county socialist republic. That does not mean I want to kill protestants or unionists or loyalist. I want to see harmony on this island. I would want to see everyone's rights, culture, customs etc recognised, funded and celebrated from all sides of our society. I believe that we are all equal and should be treated equally under the law and be able to live peacefully and happily because that what being a socialist republican is all about. I fully disagree with the armed struggle but of course understand why and how it came about. Why is it when someone calls themselves a socialist republican, calls for Irish unity and see partition as bad thing is all of a sudden sectarian?? would you call a democratic unionist sectarian? Finally, regarding your point on this piece not offering anything to the people of NI you are right. It doesnt offer anything to the people of Northern Ireland but the entire island itself, were we,me, you,us,them and all can have a better way of living for ourselves and our kids.


  3. Steve thanks for your input. Why is it, when someone comes out and states the facts about partition and its effects on communities and society in NI as well its effects on border counties and the island as a whole, they are called sectarian? I believe in a 32 county socialist republic not because I support the IRA or want the removal of all thing British or get back at ''them'' but because I believe that a united socialist republic Ireland would benefit us all on this island. Anyone's culture, customs etc should be recognised, funded equally as everyone else and protected because thats what being a socialist is all about. No, this piece doesn't bring anything to the people of NI but to the whole island were you, me, we, us, them, and all of ours can live a better life for ourselves and our kids. Being a socialist, disagreeing with partition, wanting an equal more prosperous Ireland does not make me sectarian, Steve. I just see see things different is all.

  4. I wouldn't worry about Steve, Finn. The carefully concealed reality of his own sectarianism has come apart elsewhere over recent days. Pay no heed. Great piece and well done on getting published online.

  5. How am I sectarian Sean?

    My point on this piece is that harping back to the demographics of plantation, and more over constantly hanging the ills of Donegal 100 years after partition on the British...who over just over the border a million people identify themselves as does smack of sectarianism. I may have got the wrong idea and if so I apologise. I am also a socialist and pro greater cooperation between the people, but have zero interest in apportionment of blame as to the causes of the predicament if it alienates one community over another. A bit like the shiners and their facist outlook.

  6. I found Neither the article nor the critique of it sectarian. A worthwhile exchange.

  7. The sectarianism of these boys commenting on here was exposed on another thread - not here. The idea this article is sectarian in tone is laughable no matter.

  8. Steve R. I think I will take Sean's advise and not worry about ya. I was aware of your own sectarian undercurrent from the start of your comment. I've stated the facts here, I've mentioned plantation as just one of my many points on this piece. This article is not about blaming one or the other. I've given a brief history of how partition came about, what has happened to Donegal, the North, Border counties and Ireland as a whole since partition and what its like today and I've given supporting evidence as to why Irish Unity could benefit everyone on the island. The main theme of the piece is Irish unity and its benefits and not as you have mentioned giving ''appointment of blame''. hence the title, Free Us (YOU and I) From Partition And Let The Land Around Us Awaken.

    Sean thank you you for your comment.

    AM thank you too for your comment

  9. Finn,

    'The decimation of Donegal's 112 miles of railways is evidence of the effect of partition as even today there is no railway in the county.'

    Forgive the facetious, but a more plausible case might have been made for the decline of the Corncrake in Donegal based on partition. I'm sure I could find a pre and post partition illustration of the birds population as evidence. The border was a determinant in neither.

    As coincidence would have it my great grandfather and grandfather were both train drivers on the Donegal railways. The rail networks they worked finally ground to a halt four decades under Irish rather than British rule, which sort of works against the logic of the piece.

    The long term structural decline of railways was evidently not a purely border driven localised phenomenon but something internationally experienced. The zenith of rail transportation 1900-1918 was proceeded by stagnation to 1945 and there after ultimately decline. The history of Ireland's railways is entirely linear to the global history of rail. Partition coincided with decline and much like the horse and cart existed alongside it's decimation but it was never the causation of it.

  10. That's a fair point you make there Robert and I couldn't argue with you However, I cant help but think if partition didn't exist would there still be a railway in Donegal? At the very least would there could still be a rail from Letterkenny to Derry and perhaps another going to Sligo? As regards to the rail fading away after 40 years of Irish rule you can clearly see that west of the Bann's rail has also faded away under British rule. If our infrastructure funding was under one system of government I think there would of been some railways stations that could of survived to this day instead of completely abandoning them.

  11. Finn,

    I'd call plenty of democratic unionists sectarian!!

    But I can see your point better now so I clearly did get the wrong end of the stick so my apologies.

  12. steve r. happy days bud. apology accepted no bother.

    If you would call plenty of democratic unionists sectarian then you will love my next piece.

  13. Steve R now that you have seen the errors of your ways could you give your opinion now on the piece?

  14. Fascinating & well researched piece - kudos. There is no doubt that although outside the 6 counties, partition effected Donegal dramatically - to many people in other parts of the country such as Dublin a trip to Donegal (avoiding the 6 counties) was a journey of epic proportions and so often they simply avoided it.

    A lot of blame also rests on successive Dublin governments who simply ignored Donegal and poorer western and border counties while unfortunately those regions were represented all too often by parochial, gombeen men.

    As an aside I watched a documentary on India's Frontier Railways on Netflix and that gives you another insight into how great the British were at partitioning countries & the impact that had on some many communities & lives over the decades - drawing lines on a map is easy...

  15. Finn,

    well presented piece yet there's an element of 'and pigs might fly' to your commentary. I agree that Partition has been particularly hard on Donegal and unification would overall be highly beneficial to its peoples.

    But as the old saw goes "The hearth has it reasons that reason doesn't understand".
    Yes your analysis is reasonable ... however we're not dealing with logic here ... we're dealing with cultivated passions ... old, old passions which preceded and which of themselves precipitated Partition.

    Yes, there's an undeniable logic to your position but as I've heard Dr. Big Mackers say once or twice "What wasn't reasoned in won't be reasoned out". So I won't be holding my breath on you getting the outcome you advocate for.

    (On an aside; a number of Prods from west of the Bann holidayed and continued to do so right through the conflict in South Donegal, especially caravaning in Rossnowlagh. Not so many in Bundoran but I do remember once having a pint or two with a son of Harry West, the bluff Ulster farmer and one time leader of the OUP, in Joe O'Neill's).

  16. Finn,

    No bother, will give a more considered review in the next few days. Stuck in outback whoop whoop at the minute and hate using mobiles.

  17. Henry Joy

    Thank you for your input. Although I understand the challenge of what I have proposed, I do not see anything wrong with proposing something in my view and yours that makes logical, reasonable, economical, geographical sense. Yes I recognise that there are those who who oppose unity, yes i recognise that there are are who will work to smash this idea by any means. Im not a dreamer nor a novice in this.

    If you could think about this for me? If there is a better way of living for you and I and everyone on our island, if there is an idea there that brings about something that brings all of us together and gives prosperity to our island would you not take it? Now, If there is a group of people who oppose that idea, if that group of people don't want it no matter how much it benefits them only to protect their false sense of superiority and continues to keep them and their neighbors back from their full potential should we deny ourselves that idea? should we kill that idea? Should we compromise the best idea because a group of people say no to it?

    I believe that putting aside this idea is a surrender to those who oppose it. I believe that if you simply say it wont work because unionists wont like it is, in my opinion, pandering, subjecting and lowering yourself to the opposed opinion. Its a sort slave mentality. ''dont't dream that big because your master will never allow it''. Well maybe I dont have a master nor need their approval or for them to sign up to this idea?

  18. JG33n

    Thanks for your view. I appreciate your input.

    I watched a programme last on the partition of India and Pakistan. It never ceases to amaze me how British Governments thought it a good idea to partition countries. Carving up nations by a fella in a room with a map and not thinking of the implications boggles my mind.

  19. Finn,

    call it pandering to Unionism or call it whatever way you like the fact still remains that the consent principle has been endorsed. In May 1998 94% of the population of the Southern State relinquished the constitutional claim to the six northern counties and effectively accepted the partitionist settlement of 1922.

    That you may consider all that an unfair imposition is allowable and understandable. Yet if you choose to oppose the current attempt at settlement of long standing differences then surely there's an onus on you to lay out your alternatives. Defiance is fine as long as you can bare the cost and pain it inevitably brings but if you're expecting broad support for your opposition to existing arrangements then you need to lay out a workable strategy. Otherwise, and to borrow yet another of Mackers's phrases, you're just tunnelling to the moon.

  20. Henry JoY

    The GFA was as Mackers put it, Sunningdale factor 2. Yes, 94% of the southern state voted for it but I dont believe they knew the full implications of the deal nor did many republicans north and south. If we could turn back the clock I believe many would not sign up to the Belfast agreement as quick. People wanted peace yes but I don't think nationalists and republicans wanted the then government to give up its territory on the north.

    We have seen that since the GFA stormont has not worked. It has collapsed time and time again, corruption,bigotry and the same superiority, holding their noses to any nationalist/Republican parties, bigoted, we run the show tactics from DUP. Maybe the bombs and bullets have stopped but the same old shit still runs down the walls of stormont. Perhaps as the GFA is twenty years now and has been giving enough time to be implemented and practice to see if it works, there may be need to look again at it and ask my generation north and south if we want a new direction for our island. Should we set something else up, should we abandon the power sharing idea and bring in an Irish or British way of voting, Im sure people on both sides of society would be interested in a change. That could be some alternatives I would suggest.

    Another would be the border poll. I believe that it should be an all Ireland referendum consisting of both north and south. Majority of the combined votes. One island one vote to put it short. I believe that the confusion around what exactly can bring in a border was delibrate and should only be for the whole of Ireland to decide, not a British MP. It should also be on a 50+1 basis.

    I would also propose a federal Ireland consisting of a parliament for each province and a federal government to control national matters. This allows power to unionists and more freedom and security to run the province. This also gives them the whole of Ulster back in their hands which they wanted in the first place, seeing as they only took six counties to guarantee unionism majority. It also gives them a near 20% ownership of Ireland as well.

    I believe that the British identity should remain to those who see themselves as British. I have no right to say other wise. Passports, land ownership, customs, marches, parades, bonfires, orange halls, murals, ulster scot dialect/language, and anything else British identity wise or ulster should remain, be funded on an equal basis, regulated greatly(especially on bonfire matters), recognised by the federal government and protected.

    This new Ireland would mean each province parliament could keep and eye the federal government and the federal government can keep an eye on each parliament to reduce any fowl play or bias to any side.

    These are just some proposals, Henry. I would like if you have any, to give any of your alternative views should (hypothetically of course) a united Ireland come about? What do you think the best outcome for Ulster will be?

  21. Henry Joy and Finn, the 'territorial claim' was never the Free State's to begin with. That it was dropped in 1998 is inconsequential to the republican effort. The republican efforts is to remove the British occupation system and restore the Republican Constitution.

  22. Finn,

    if there's any veracity in the old adage that politics is the art of the possible then it necessarily follows that its effective proponents must develop flexibility. The ideologues in their extreme rigidity exclude themselves from such processes. Immature black and white thinking patterns limits possibilities for creative solutions. Unfortunately I see your contributions in that latter frame.

    The vast majority of Irish Nationalists have recognised these truisms and have given expression of such in the casting of their votes on the GFA. I see little possibility for any significant reversal of that now well established position.

    I get where you're coming from Finn, for I was once deeply enmeshed in similar patterns of thought and would have advocated for the type of solutions you propose. Yet, albeit late in the day I have come to accept that history, like life itself, is not always fair.

    Integrating such existential truths is part of the maturing process. Before the ripening mechanism completes expect some further growing pains!

  23. Well done Finn for writing a republican article that isn't riddled with the ubiquitous clichés of "our struggle", "the proclamation", "perfidious albion" etc etc. I wish others would take note. Unfortunately your article isn't well thought through. Donegal suffers from the same problems as other regions with low population density. I'm sure the people of Connemara suffer the same thing. I read recently of the people from the Scottish Borders complaining about cancer services being located in Glasgow and Dumfries. The people of Donegal also suffer from the south having an inferior health care system to the NHS. Maybe the south rejoining the UK is the way to go!

    You also cite the running down of the train system but that suffered its own unique problem island wide due to the road building program among other reasons and is not due to partition. Similarly, mental health is a serious problem in these islands generally and the area remains cronically underfunded. I fail to see partitions "blame" for this. Indeed republicanism must hold up its hands and accept its fair share of blame both historically and currently. Last year several young people committed suicide following beatings and threats from dissident republican groupings. In my opinion these groups are perpetuating partition and harming CRN communities but at no point do you mention, let alone criticise, them.

    You also nail your colours firmly to the EU mast which is understandable. I believe brexit may turn out to be a wise move given the EU's inability to reform, economic asymmetry, reducing productivity etc. Dublin's main economic, cultural partner and, yes, friend is the UK, like it or not. Irexit and moving closer to London's orbit may be the best outcome for Donegal in the long run. A united Ireland outside the UK will be cripplingly expensive, given the reunification of Germany nearly bankrupted that economic giant. A new united Ireland would need to borrow heavily to pay for the coupling and restructuring of the country this would obviously be detrimental in the short and medium term to areas like Donegal.

    I love Donegal and am a regular visitor to Downings (and its Harbour Bar!) and I hope the county can regenerate and thrive. Maybe you should take off the republican tinted specs and have another look at your article. Donegal's current predicament is a little more nuanced than you say in it.
    Best regards

  24. Sean Bres

    Yes I agree. Time for a real third Dail to be brought in. The vail must be lifted from the peoples eyes of this so called republic. The pretenders in power today have and had no right to give up any claim of territory from the constitution.

    I grew up to believe a certain kind of history constructed by liars. I and many of my generation believed we became a fully independent country in 1922 and then a republic just not in name in 1937 and then again declared a republic in 48. These are merely announcements from those who were still under British influence and power. Ireland is actually only described as a republic. Description dont mean jack. Under the vail there lays a truth that Ireland remains to be the free state.

  25. Sean Bres

    Yes I agree. Time for a real third Dail to be brought in. The vail must be lifted from the peoples eyes of this so called republic. The pretenders in power today have and had no right to give up any claim of territory from the constitution.

    I grew up to believe a certain kind of history constructed by liars. I and many of my generation believed we became a fully independent country in 1922 and then a republic just not in name in 1937 and then again declared a republic in 48. These are merely announcements from those who were still under British influence and power. Ireland is actually only described as a republic. Description dont mean jack. Under the vail there lays a truth that Ireland remains to be the free state.

  26. @ Peter who said"The people of Donegal also suffer from the south having an inferior health care system to the NHS. Maybe the south rejoining the UK is the way to go!"

    A much simpler solution to the republic rejoining the UK (how the Unionists hold hard to this pipe dream, throwing it out there whenever they get the chance) is the republic introducing a "free at the point of care" health service. As is found in most EU states.

    Mr Varadakar is himself a doctor and would no doubt appreciate the benefits to public health and the general population.
    This one move would snooker Unionists boasts about being better cared for (money-wise) under the NHS.
    It's a win-win for Mr Varadkar - if he has the common good of the irish people at heart

    He may well not have!

  27. Sean B,

    Please identify were exactly I was sectarian on another thread. I take a dim view of such behaviour and am calling you out on this.


    Peter pretty well covered the points I was about to make so will not rehash them here. I do think it's an interesting piece however, the reality is like HJ says partition is here to stay at least for the foreseeable. With regard to the rail, as public mass transportation has been superseded by the private car and indeed many households have more than one car now, I'm not really sure as too your point on this?

  28. Finn,

    if there's any veracity in the old adage that politics is the art of the possible then it necessarily follows that its effective proponents must develop flexibility. Ideologues, on the other hand, in their extreme rigidity exclude themselves from such processes. Immature black and white thinking patterns generally limits possibilities for creative solutions. Unfortunately I see your contribution essentially in that latter frame.

    The vast majority of Irish Nationalists have recognised these truisms and have given expression to such in the casting of their votes on the GFA. I see little possibility for any significant reversal of that now well established position.

    That said though, I get where you're coming from, for I was once deeply enmeshed in similar patterns of thought and would have previously advocated for similar types of solutions to which you now propose. And yet, albeit late in the day I have come to accept that history, like life itself, is not always fair.
    Grounded and clear-thinking adults learn to accept that the human condition has always been characterised by frustration, loss and disappointment. Thankfully, they also understand that this will probably always remain so right to the end of time. In an ever increasingly better-educated, more individualistic and consumption orientated society fewer and fewer remain susceptible to the ideologues simplistic bluff.

    Finn, integrating such existential truths is part of the maturing process ... therefore, before the ripening completes and the apple falls, prepare for some more growing pains!

  29. Peter and Steve R

    1.Thank you for your input. I appreciate your views. I don't think this piece was a republican article or at least that was not my intention but only to highlight the effects of partition and the benefits of unity. I'm more a socialist than a republican and I don't rest on any green or orange issues but on the basis of equality and fairness for everybody.

    2. There is no denying that Donegal has suffered from partition as I have mentioned the points in the piece. As stated above I wanted merely to specifically mention the effect of partition and the benefits of unity only. I'm not for one moment saying that the British Government are the sole culprits here nor unionism however, I believe partition, brought in by the past and continuing British governments as well as Unionism, had a huge part to play in Donegal,border counties and west of the Bann being kept back from economic development and still continues to do so. To put it not so subtle, the clue is in the title.

    3.The healthcare service is no doubt in tatters Both north and south of our island. I would propose an Irish NHS with universal free mental and physical healthcare for all with greater investment. I would agree that in some ways Ireland could Join up and work with the U.K on this matter as well as other nations world wide, creating an international free healthcare with nations working together for the betterment of all. As stated in my piece, I have proposed a northwest regional hospital for cancer treatment. A combined health service would save money on separate legislation regulation etc. As stated again in my piece, partition led to continued poverty which led to mental and physical illness. Poverty in my view is the number 1 killer. You can take that any way you want my friend but that's my view. As regards to Dissident beatings, I will never be ok that. Bullies are bullies regardless of any ''cause'' you part of. I'll say it simply. If partition never existed there would be no dissidents, there would be no conflict. There would be sectarianism and uvf,uda,udr, bloody sunday, omagh, Enniskillen, Stormont collapsing, false superiority from staunch unionists, exlusion etc I can go on all day and night

  30. 4. The rail way had declined on global matters as well as the Irish government in power in the south yes. this is also true in the north as well as you can see a decline on railways throughout the decades on my piece however, Due to nationalist exclusion in the north and economic underdevelopment in border counties due to partition its no surprise the vast majority of abandoned railways are in Donegal, border counties and west of the Bann. I believe that if partition never existed and having a combined national rail, some rail routes would survive today such as a line from Letterkenny to Derry and Letterkenny to Sligo.

    5. As it is ok for the U.K to leave the E.U seeing they are a rich country I don't believe Ireland leaving the E.U would be a good idea. Tariff will probably be put on goods and service now for the U.K being outside the E.U market which will effect Ireland of course, Put the same will go for the U.K. Businesses are already moving south and more will follow after brexit. Brexit gives Ireland has the opportunity to break the dependency on Britain and work with other E.U nations, If we go along with U.K and go with an Irexit then it will further deepen this dependency and leave us hanging on the hopes of the U.K economy instead of going for it ourselves. a united Ireland could bring in more foreign investment that would normally go for the U.K. An E.U country, English speaking, 12.5% corporation tax island wide, two large cities, who wouldn't?

    6.Your German unification point is, I'm sorry laughable. The north and south of Ireland is not exactly the same of east and west Germany. The east and west were two completely different systems of government with no cross border relations, no integrated systems at all. The east had no income what so ever and was heavily subsidised from the west. just look at Germany now, the kings of Europe. The north and south work together in economic matters, policing, healthcare etc there's a relationship there and waiting for the transition. As stated in my piece, as well as the Irish government's funding, the E.U would give funding to Irish Unity as well as the British government contributing also and easing off as time goes by.

  31. Henry JoY

    I think what the problem is when nationalists, republicans and socialists talk about Irish unity or a 32 county socialist republic and throw in the odd republican language of old, as Peter has mentioned, such as ''struggle'' ''the proclamation'' and all that, It is automatically seen as a bad thing. It is not rigid or biased or sectarian or and old outdated idea or least not always nor with everyone who uses this theme. It is something that many have looked at and studied and researched with that kind of language expressed by figures such Connolly, Wolftone etc. and came to the conclusion that Irish unity is best for the island. I myself was of the position keeping things the way they are. Northern Ireland part of U.K and Ireland remaining some what independent. I was tired of the rhetoric and still can be by others using the old repetitive ''up da ra'' ''brits out'' language.

    I also feel this ''rigidity'' you speak of is not exactly the thing that turns people away from socialism, nationalism or republicanism. There are of course rigid Unionists/loyalists/protestants who simply switch off and close their minds away at even the very mention of anything Irish unity or anything Irish at that. I feel that there is a fear in unionism of being open to SRN's and they themselves will keep the status quo no matter what benefits are included. I believe that without the IRA's reaction and the British government intervening in unionism's oppressive dominance in the north, the six counties would still be stuck in the 50's.

    Connolly was a Scottish man who served in the British army, Parnell was a protestant and the son of an English Landowner, Isaac Butt, a protestant, Redmond came from a protestant unionist family, I can go on. These were people who were open to change and be flexible in their ideas which I wholeheartedly celebrate today but unfortunately don't see today but instead I see those who are not so much in favour of remaining part of the U.K but rather have a false fear and/or hatred for Socialism, republicanism, nationalism and see these ideas as something that will oppress them and deny their identity which is ironic as these ideologies were adopted by those who were being oppressed and denied their identity by the British government.

    I'm not denying that the majority of people both north and south voted for the GFA and is embedded into our society however, I'm sure you would agree that everything should be challenged and questioned and if there can be a better way forward? Can we be flexible enough and not be so ''rigid'' in our thinking that we simply shut down any alternatives and keep trudging the same line? I'm of the position that even when the best possible system is implemented to society it should be challenged and question no matter how well it's doing.

  32. Finn
    So you find my comment on Germany "laughable"? Clearly you haven't read the papers or articles on the matter. The republic is over €200 billion in debt to begin with and adding into that all the other obvious and hidden costs of unification you are facing a huge bill. The most prominent is the case of the North's liabilities, with public sector pensions being the highest. The north has an over reliance on public sector jobs and therefore huge pension liabilities in this regard. Not to mention the thousands made redundant overnight. Add to this the north's over reliance on exports to England, after reunification there will be a trade tarrif on this unless the new Ireland leaves the EU. I recommend that you google articles on these matters, the Irish Times has a few good ones.
    As for you not being really republican, why did you end your article with "onward to freedom"? Sounds a bit "rebely" to me lol.

  33. yes onwards to freedom onwards to the republic, a socialist republic as well. but id be happy with a united republic for now. yes comparing german reunification with Irish unification is laughable. Your implying it as a bad thing. Could you tell me how much the U.K is in debt? Surely you could agree that the matters you have raise could be addressed and resolved. with E.U and U.K funding along with Irish funding and the long term financial gain of combining the two system will be the best way forward for both north and south.

  34. Finn
    You clearly haven't done your homework on this one. From what authority did you write this part of your article? Yes the UK has a massive debt so why would they waive the massive public sector liability? You think they will? Or that the EU will pay it? Here is a quote from the Irish Times in March 2017 (not the Newsletter):
    "The public sector pension liability in Ireland is estimated to amount to €98 billion.
    Apportioning the UK public sector pension liability to Northern Ireland on the basis of public sector employment would more than double these liabilities for a united Ireland.
    This reflects both the higher liabilities in the UK and the greater share of employment in the public sector in Northern Ireland.
    If UK debt were apportioned on a per capita basis, then this would add over €64 billion to the Irish debt."

    So the Irish debt would jump from €200 billion to €264 billion on just pension liabilities. I know you guys are increasingly desperate for a UI but you need to see the reality of the situation. If there is change it will be slow and involve much compromise from the Irish. As for a socialist republic, don't be holding your breath.

  35. Finn,

    I agree, nothing ought be taken at face value. And indeed its healthy to question.
    However action for actions sake is essentially reactionary ... unless it is grounded in some hope of success. If its not grounded in a realistic and achievable strategy its all for naught and its all a waste of resources and time.

    Some of your observations are near enough but yet your piece and commentary offers no viable strategy for change. Hence it comes across as more of the same old same old.

    The competing needs of Loyalism and Republicanism made partition inevitable. It was never really ever going to be other than that. The late Ronan Fanning, Professor emeritus of modern history at UCD, is on the record as having the opinion that "it (partition) was on the cards certainly as early as 1910 and almost inevitable by 1912".

    Think about that for a minute ... the professor claims that partition was inevitable four years before the gallant heroes marched into the Post Office and proclaimed their glorious Republic! (and James Connolly, sensible man, ordered no shot to be fired in Ulster during The Rising. Reconcile that spake with his proclaimed, sovereign and indefeasible Republic).

    You're way too far behind the curve on this Finn and I haven't the time nor the inclination to offer any more remedial support right now, save but one last thought: perhaps Donegal might fare better, and would have always fared better, were it and had it been one of the wee 7 ? Better, me thinks, that you campaign for Tír Connaill to secede from the Free State.

    10/4 H.J.

  36. Finn,

    "The rail way had declined on global matters as well as the Irish government in power in the south yes. this is also true in the north as well as you can see a decline on railways throughout the decades on my piece however, Due to nationalist exclusion in the north and economic underdevelopment in border counties due to partition its no surprise the vast majority of abandoned railways are in Donegal, border counties and west of the Bann. I believe that if partition never existed and having a combined national rail, some rail routes would survive today such as a line from Letterkenny to Derry and Letterkenny to Sligo."

    Nothing really survives beyond its economic model, given the population of both Sligo and Letterkenny is 20 thousand each and Derry is 110 thousand I can't understand how you think the rail there would be economically feasible, especially in the now widespread use of the motorcar (and by extension Public Buses) . Given that these would be running at a loss, it is no surprise that the vast majority of abandon railways are in Donegal or the border areas. There was simply no profit to be made or even a chance to break even, hence why the Governments both winded them down.

  37. When a man who admits to having celebrated the death of children in a bombing goes full circle in the manner we have seen from this 'Henry Joy', it would surely present a worthy case study for social scientists researching the slave mentality colonialism engenders in those it subjugates. While by no means is it (the slave mentality) a new phenomenon, this case would likely be of interest to them given that the subject, only a short time ago, introduced himself on this forum as a hardcore Ó Bradaighite but now has completely reversed course to the point of berating those who won't shape-shift as he has done with his ceaseless barrage of pseudo-intellectual guff. It suggests a weak-minded fool, courting acceptance, is he who operates that profile. It's either that or a mixing troll (indeed it may even be both). I must confess though, the 'I haven't the time nor the inclination to offer any more remedial support right now' had me in stitches - to the point where my wife bemused, looked over and asked 'what are you laughing at'. It gets better and better on here. Finn a chara, pay no heed to this chancer. He doesn't warrant as much of your time as you've given thus far. If he were prepared to write and stand over his own thoughts on partition and the rest perhaps he might warrant the respect he so obviously craves. Alas...

  38. sean bres

    lol hence the no reply to henry or peter. I have given more than enough of my time to discuss in a reasonable manner but I'm done now. only so much dribble a man can take and yes my girlfriend was wondering why I was laughing too haha.

  39. Good man Sean,

    great to see you out to play again!

    Taken in the round we all come here to propose and test our ideas. Fair play to Finn, yourself and all the others who contribute articles. Though in proposing your ideas you must be able to defend your position. If there were to be no challenge then it is in affect like merely entering the virtual echo chamber. A futile enough pastime I'd propose?

    As you well know Sean, Mackers now and again contributes the occasional nugget. I really liked and get his brilliant comment that "critical thinking is a social enterprise".
    Since coming round here my thiking has evolved. Ought I be ashamed of that?

    Give my best to the Mrs,

  40. These debates plummet once they become bad tempered spats.

    A lot of time, thought and energy went into this piece.

    For the most part I found the exchanges valuable.

    Keep writing Finn. Different ideas only harm those who can't stand difference.

    Be deferential to difference and defiant to intolerance.

  41. AM
    ah good man. first positive comment in a while. Yes I agree its hit a wall and will no linger be replying as much as I did as people just wont be open to anything but their own beliefs.

  42. Such a shame Sean B derailed this with an ad hominen.

    Finn, the point is convince us that a UI is better for everyone. No point preaching to the sycophants, they are already on your side.

    If you stop arguing your point and rely on nothing but rhetoric then you will end up like the impotent 'One Ireland One Vote' initiative, a lot of bluster and no bollocks, teeming with seething manic-depressive 30 year olds who are very annoyed they were born too late and didn't get a chance to join the Provisionals and give the Brits a hiding.

  43. The North faces acute isolation removed from Europe and on the margins of the UK. This won't hold over the medium to long term. Steve, the imperialist socialist, and his ilk have it all in front of them and it is in front of them no matter their cockiness at present. The timeline of history is heading in one direction only. It's a matter of if and not when.

  44. Sean,

    Given you have shown absolutely no clue as to how the status quo will be changed, I'll take your sideline sniping for the flaccid hot air that it is.

  45. Sean B says,

    "It's a matter of if and not when."

    Freudian slip young fellah ... your unconscious is even contradicting your rigid positioning! LOL.

  46. Was wondering what you were raving about this time but see now...

  47. Sean/Henry Joy,

    I didn't even spot that myself. Shows that we read from the mind's eye rather than the page. Makes us useless at proof reading our own stuff.

  48. Qucik pettran mathcing ablities and thniking fsat smoetmies craetes avdnatage ... but aslo hvae inhenert dwonisdes!


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