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.”