Donegal: the forgotten county?

I have no idea which students are likely to be worst hit by the cost cutting measure mentioned below, but I would guess the axe will fall disproportionately on residents of Donegal. It has long been a forgotten county, and its residually high unemployment rates underline the degree to which it has not been able to leverage (directly at least) the new wealth of the tiger economy. It’s arguable that the collapse of the Belfast Agreement has hit its people as badly as anywhere in Northern Ireland, since the capacity for joint cross border planning has been severely curtailed by the collapse of a meaningful political cadre on the ‘northern’ side of the border.

Rosita Boland in the Irish Times noted that the success of a pressure group which demonstrates the ‘felt’ distance between Dublin’s central government and the local people. Donegal Action for Cancer Care, has had considerable success in forcing the Health Service Executive in Dublin to reverse a previous decision and announce that Letterkenny General Hospital would get a permanent breast cancer surgeon after all.

Jim O’Donnell, theorganisation’s public relations officer:

“We’re on the periphery of Europe, and Dublin really does seem to believe we are part of Northern Ireland. That mindset is there and we’re getting a bit fed up with it. The Troubles didn’t help by contributing to our isolation – people from the South didn’t want to cross the border to get here – but the Government shouldn’t allow our health services to deteriorate as a result.”

Boland notes:

While chemotherapy is available in Letterkenny General, all cancer patients must currently travel to either Dublin or Galway for post-surgery radiation treatment. The Derry-based hospital, Altnagelvin, is geographically the closest to Donegal, but it is in a different jurisdiction, which makes any sharing of services very complicated. “I feel I have the right to be treated in my own country,” says Brown.

“Northern Ireland are always going to look after their own first,” says John T Quinn from Convoy, co-chairman. “If they have spare capacity for treatment, it might go to us, but that makes us second best. With two jurisdictions the chain of command is always going to be different.”

  • slug

    The 2006 census results point to Dublin ever-growing but some other cities in the Irish Republic in actual decline. An ever centralising country with the power increasingly in Greater Dublin’s constituencies? Leitrim and Galway are growing, however. See yesterday’s Sunday Business Post for David McWilliams article, titled “Our cities are not flourishing, but beginning to wilt and die”.

  • tom strong

    Plus ca change,plus c’est la meme chose. The outflow from Donegal will continue as it has for a couple of hndred years.
    My family started leaving Donegal in the 1830’s and continued until well into the 20th century. None are left today but the teaching, legal, business and medical communities in Canada,Australia and the US do possess many representatives of the family.
    I suppose that in 20 or 30 years these countries will again benefit from the children of an influx of the intelllignt and the ambitious from Donegal.
    Tom Strong

  • Nevin

    What do you think of John Hume’s proposals for dealing with the problem of centralisation? [source: “Personal Views”]

    [i]p130 … we do not expect the centre to solve our problems . we expect it to make it possible for us to resolve them ourselves . we are polygamists. rather than put all our hopes in the belfast or london baskets, we look for opportunities and partnerships with an entire harem of centres
    p131 … in a polycentric world, promiscuity is an advantage

  • slug

    How much by way of subvention per capita do people in Donegal get from the Irish State?

  • smcgiff

    ‘The 2006 census results point to Dublin ever-growing but some other cities in the Irish Republic in actual decline.’

    Limerick and Cork are the cities, which suffered a decline in populations.

    However, leaving aside a little matter of a Heineken cup final in Dublin on the same weekend, this has more to do with the set boundaries around the cities. Limerick’s direct surroundings would have grown considerably, but the actual city (and county) boundary cuts through significant suburbs. Simple as…

  • aquifer

    “but it is in a different jurisdiction, which makes any sharing of services very complicated”

    How complicated? UK National Health Services are supposed to be costed for private patients, and lots of patients should result in a huge discount.

    Nothing to do with Dublin being unwilling to give an even break to the ‘Black North’ I hope.

    The real problem may be staffing. NHS hospitals in west ulster cannot get enough staff, before extra patients.

  • S Mcgiff is correct, if you include the huge swathes of suburbs which are just outside the city boundaries in Cork, the population of the city would be close to 200,000. I guess Limerick would probably be around 100,000. I know they’re trying to change the city boundary in Cork at present,which someone remarked that Galway city has an area three times the size of Cork with a population of around 70,000.

    Sadly for a lot of shameful southerners Donegal is always lumped in with the North, to most people down here in the southern region of Ireland, the Donegal accent is the same as any rural northern accent.
    I’ve even heard a colleague remark that he’d prefer a 23 county ireland with ulster reverting back to its traditional boundaries.
    Anyway Donegal is a beautiful place with very very nice friendly people, quite possibly the friendliest in all of the 32 counties, in my honest opinion.
    Even john taylor of the UUP requested half-jokingly that maybe the north should exhange South Armagh for somewhere nice like Letterkenny, it was mentioned in Toby Harnden’s “Bandit country”

  • Betty Boo

    As a gall living in what must be the most forgotten place ever in the history of any country to the point of eliminating the very existence of one part of its own territory as such (,only leads me to the conclusion, that the “pearl trenched pigs” from the pale have lost completely any connection within this very small place of their own. Anger and disillusion is growing as much as Donegal’s capability of putting effectively its foot down. Unfortunately, it will take a little bit longer. Meanwhile the decay and stripping of its resources will continue, irretrievable in most cases. An ownership doing as much damage as any forceful occupation. An uphill struggle against the odds as if still placed in such situation. And as alien as a gaeltracht area, as much as it is incorporated into the constitution.
    “He bit off his nose to spite his face.” springs to mind.
    And since everything takes this wee bit longer up here, I would like to be still around by the time it comes to the more than well deserved change.

  • ciaran damery

    A resurgent donegal is not a pipe dream, in fact i am confident that it wil occur. Given the strong posibility of gains for Sinn Fein in both DNE and DSW and the party’s close ties with adjoining counties in West Tyrone where Pat Doherty is the elected MP forthe area, coupled with Michelle Gildernhew’s MP status in F/ST and hopefully ith the help of SF in Derry the region can become a prosperous tourist region. It will takea lot of hard work but given th calibre of SF’s elected MPs and probables in the forthcoming Dáil elections, Donegal, has been taken for granted by the three conervative parties (FF, Labour and the blueshirts) for decades. Buti have no doubt that Sinn Fein’s popularity in the NW of Irelandwill allow the party to implement cross border initiatives that hitherto would have been impossibble to arrange. Give SF a chance in Donegal and the job will get done,

  • IJP

    Well said Seamus.

    It’s lies and damned lies again.

    Even anecdotally, while it is obvious that Ireland’s western cities have not enjoyed a Dublin-style boom, they are hardly ‘wilting and dying’.

    Nice to see we Northerners aren’t the only ones who go in for such overexaggeration, mind!

  • GavBelfast

    Was that penultimate piece there embargoed until its 7.47am release?