Better phones, better insurance, bad banks

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] Nine years ago I wrote an article1 for the Irish Times recounting my travails, having moved from Dublin to Armagh to work for the Centre for Cross Border Studies, when I tried to open a cross-border bank account, buy a mobile phone which I could also use to ring Southern numbers, … Read more

A cross-border priest helping to heal a divided people

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] Rev. Sean Nolan, parish priest of Errigal-Truagh in north Monaghan, is another of those tireless and unsung heroes of cross-border cooperation and reconciliation we rarely hear about. Like his unionist friend Billy Tate1, he was toiling in this often stony field long before it became fashionable or fundable. Errigal-Truagh has three … Read more

Cross-border shopping can be the new patriotism

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] There has been a lot said and written about cross-border shopping and patriotism in the weeks running up to Christmas. As a person with a passing interest in both subjects (the latter mainly on the terraces at Lansdowne Road), I wonder if I might add my two ha’apence. Irish Finance Minister … Read more

Island of Ireland economy still a viable option

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] The economies on this island are now in dire straits, in common with every other economy in Europe and North America. The governments in London and Dublin are struggling to cope with the short-term management of the worst international financial crisis in nearly 80 years. There is little or no time … Read more

Does the border matter in a time of recession?

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] One just can’t avoid the economy these days. By now it is old news that at the end of September and in early October the world was on the edge of a financial precipice not seen since the Wall Street Crash in 1929. The government of the Republic, whose banks and … Read more

Statistics which show how similar we are

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] Why do governments so often choose to release some of their most interesting publications in the ‘dog days’ of the summer holidays? At the end of July the two Statistics Offices in Belfast and Cork quietly published the fourth edition of their compilation Ireland, North and South: A Statistical Profile1. Inevitably … Read more

Do we already have a kind of United Ireland/United Kingdom?

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] This ‘Note’ will contain personal opinions which some strong traditional unionists and nationalists may take exception to – although I believe many ordinary thinking Northern Irish and Irish people will find them uncontroversial. So I should begin with a disclaimer: on this occasion these are my own ideas and do not … Read more

Cross-community gaelic games take to the road

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] Billy Tate is one of the unsung heroes of cross-border and cross-community cooperation in Northern Ireland. This Ulster Unionist Party member and former soldier in the Royal Artillery is the principal of Belvoir Park Primary School, on the edge of an overwhelmingly Protestant working class housing estate in south-east Belfast. After … Read more

Cross-border cooperators say ‘YES’ to Europe

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] So the people of the Republic of Ireland have voted ‘No’ to the Lisbon Treaty. They listened to the siren voices of right wing mavericks like Declan Ganley and Coir (Youth Defence under another name) and left wing mavericks like Sinn Fein and Joe Higgins rather than to the 95% of … Read more

Having fun and tackling racism in the border region

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] I attended a lovely event in Monaghan town this month. It was the last ‘showcase’ presentation of the Immigration Emigration Racism and Sectarianism (IERS) Schools Project, which is funded by the EU Peace Programme and managed by the Centre for Cross Border Studies. This project brought eight primary and four secondary … Read more

Reconciliation is alive and well and living in Monaghan

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] It is easy to be cynical about the inevitable inefficiencies and occasional examples of waste when well over a billion euros of EU money are spent, as they have been in Northern Ireland and the Irish border region over the past decade. The media in Belfast and Dublin are only too … Read more

The chairman blows the Centre’s trumpet (a little)

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] Some 35 years ago I went to work in Dublin for a large British company and over the next two decades witnessed the remarkable changes which the Republic of Ireland underwent during that period. Returning to work in Northern Ireland for an Irish company in 1993, I have been privileged once … Read more

Armagh goes to Africa

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] We in Northern Ireland have become used to people – usually outsiders – telling us how narrow, inward and backward-looking we are, obsessed with our own supposedly unique little devil’s brew of history, religion and nationality. Get off the island, they say. See how the rest of the world lives, and … Read more

Can we become the best border region in Europe?

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] The Irish border gets a bad press. For nearly 30 years places like South Armagh, East Tyrone and West Fermanagh were bywords for murder and mayhem. The names of border region villages and towns are still redolent of terrible happenings: Kingsmill and Darkley and Loughgall and Omagh and Enniskillen. Since the … Read more

The town that came in from the cold

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] Clones is a pretty town. Anyone who has sat in the Diamond on a summer?s day and looked out over the small green hillsides of County Monaghan stretching away to the south and east will attest to that. It is also a sociable town. The Lennard Arms Hotel during the Clones … Read more

Why don’t students cross the border any more?

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] One column leads to another. Responding to my colleague Patricia Clarke’s Note from the Next Door Neighbours last month on the row about cross-border pupils using their grannies’ addresses to obtain school places in Derry, an irate parent has contacted us about his daughter’s cross-border higher education disappointment. This man is … Read more