The use of ‘Londonderry’ instead of ‘Derry’ on a map produced by the government-appointed Constituency Commission in Dublin has provoked anger among members of the Oireachtas.
The Constituency Commission, appointed last year to review Dáil and European constituencies in the south, reported at the end of last month but controversially used ‘Londonderry’ rather than ‘Derry’ on a map of Ireland.
This provoked anger among members of the Oireachtas, including Donegal Fianna Fáil Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill, who said he was shocked by the use of the term ‘Londonderry’
“I was taken aback by the recent Constituency Commission report which showed the city of Derry as Londonderry on its map. This was done by a Government agency here,” he said.
The Falcarragh-native told fellow senators how he had received his third-level education at Magee College and that he resented the use of the term ‘Londonderry’ in reference to the Maiden City.
Referring to the Constituency Commission’s use of the term, he commented: “It identifies Derry city, Doire Cholmcille, where I went to university, as Londonderry.
“That should be addressed and should never, ever be allowed to happen again, when it is paid for by the Irish taxpayer.”
Senator Ó Domhnaill’s Westmeath-based party colleague Aidan Davitt agreed that the use of ‘Londonderry’ on the state agency’s map was “scandalous”.
The Connemara-based Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh concurred with his Fianna Fáil colleagues.
However, the Deputy Leader of the Seanad, Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone, suggested that the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, might address the matter the next time he appeared in the Seanad.
She said she was not willing to get into a discussion of the matter.
“I note the Senator’s comments regarding Derry city. Perhaps he could raise this with the Minister in due course when he comes before the House. I will not go into the matter,” she said.
The use, by the Constituency Commission, of the term ‘Londonderry’ to indicate County Derry on a map accompanying its recent review of Dáil and European constituencies controversially followed the convention first instituted by James I of England, France and Ireland’s Royal Charter of 1613, which established both the city and the county of ‘Londonderry’.
The charter stipulated that the “said city or town of Derry, for ever hereafter be and shall be named and called the city of Londonderry”.
While it is standard practice for the authorities in London, and sometimes in Belfast, to use the term ‘Londonderry’, the southern authorities have usually used the term Derry when referring to both the city and county of Derry.
As far as Britain is concerned, however, both the city and county have legally remained ‘Londonderry’ in keeping with James I’s original charter, which was briefly annulled in the seventeenth century before being restored by James II in 1687.