Thursday, August 12, 2010

Divided Ireland

To paraphrase Julius Caesar, Hibernia est omnis divisa in tres partes. There's the well known north/south divide that has split the island since 1922 or thereabouts. But another division also exists between the greater Dublin area and the rest of the Republic. While it's origins can be dated back to the 14th Century, it is a long standing division that is unlikely to disappear any time soon.

Having married a country lass (Tipperary to be exact) I'm occasionally on the receiving end of statements like "Dublin is no place to bring up a family" or "Dublin is grand when you're young but you couldn't settle there" to which I just nod and smile. I know that I like living in the city and in fact I'm pretty content with my choice of Dublin as a place to live. It's big enough that you can find new and interesting people but not so big that you end up living an anonymous life not knowing anyone. For all its flaws I wouldn't move anywhere else bar some remote cliff top in Kerry or Donegal that was still able to get a decent DSL link.

On a political stage this bias is even more pronounced. Every few weeks you see a story from a Jackie Healy Rae, Michael Lowry or General O'Dea about how they have delivered great services for their local area. This championing is never done on behalf of a constituency in Dublin. Perhaps it is because the areas are relatively compact and that large infrastructure like hospitals and bridges in Dublin benefit all 12 constituencies so for one TD to claim responsibility would be laughed at. In fact when projects such as Metro North and the Interconnector were announced there was more moaning from rural TDs about Dublin getting all the goodies than column inches given to Dublin TDs applauding the decision.

Most recently the proposal to take water from the Shannon to be used in the greater Dublin area has been met with the same sort of reaction. Local interest groups appeared out of the woodwork insisting that their water should not be given to Dublin. Instead the multi nationals should come to Offaly or Leitrim and set up shop there. In theory that's great, until you realize that large companies need the economies of scale and transport links that only come with a reasonable sized city and unfortunately there are only 2.5 of them on the island.

If the people outside the Pale want Dublin to keep it's paws off their natural and human resources then that is fine. They just have to accept that the flip side of that is no longer receiving tax transfers from the million or so people who choose to live and work in the capital. That ought to shut them up for at least a few weeks. And don't get me started on the sporting (GAA and rugby) bias - that post would end up as long as War and Peace.

(Full disclosure, I was born in Cork but like the A-Team I promptly escaped to the Dublin underground)

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