DERRY JOURNAL Editorial: Strength in unity 100 years after Partition - Derry & Donegal
Had this been a normal week in a normal year we’d have been hearing an awful lot more about the centenary of Partition, a seismic event back in 1921 which has shaped the lives and experiences of people here for generations and which reverberates through to this day.
Locally, it left nationalists in the north west of the new Northern Ireland - who were promised this was a temporary measure - a minority and at the mercy of successive regimes whose loyalties lay elsewhere, while the natural hinterland of the city and district, Donegal, became part of the new Republic.
For the past 100 years people have lived under different laws, operated under different education, health and social welfare systems. Generally speaking, the Troubles became a daily reality for those living north of the border, but the Troubles was not a remote and alien feature of life for people in Donegal, and for all the differences, Partition and the border has never managed to completely take root in the mindsets of people in the north west the way it has done elsewhere. Yes, there are certainly some ‘them and us’ attitudes which surface from time to time, but our experiences over the century have in some ways been mirror images of each other. The same issues - lack of investment, lack of employment, peripherality, being ignored by the centres of power have quite often been common to us all. We are bound not just be geography but as often as not by blood, familial ties going back centuries, marriages and relationships, a shared history, culture and humour, and, increasingly, cross-border infrastructure and services. Our populations are dependant on each other for our livelihoods and economies. Most of us criss-cross the border frequently, our Councils are now aligned on many issues and are working together as a regional powerhouse to try to bring jobs and investment, jointly visiting the US and hosting meetings with An Taoiseach , Ministers and others.
Whether there will be a referendum and a scrapping, redrawing or retention of the border in the future, the governments here should take note to the example of the north west to see how working in tandem for the benefit of all, with buy in from all sectors and persuasions, can and does work for local people.