Destruction and discrimination west of the Bann

OK – full attention, please. What part of our little North-East Nest (NEN) was worst hit by the recent wet weather? Well done – what’s referred to as ‘The North-West’. The pictures of damage in places like Eglinton, Plumbridge and Drumahoe are appalling. If you’ve ever suffered even the mildest of flooding in your home, you’ll know that the mess and stink goes on for days, weeks, even months after. If you’re running a business, you may never recover.

There now have been calls for major investment in infrastructure west of the Bann. Do tell me:  when have I heard that before? All my life, actually. It was no accident that the civil rights movement drew its leader from Derry, that Derry city had the most brazenly-gerrymandered council in the stateen, that the formidable Martin McGuinness came from that city.

For much of my working life with the University of Ulster (and before that the Ulster Polytechnic), I travelled at least once a week to out-centres in places like Derry, Strabane, Enniskillen. It was gruelling, driving those roads, often late at night. Still, you accepted it the way you might accept bad weather. But think about it: the two major population centres in the state – Belfast and Derry – joined by a road that twists and turns like a a boa constrictor having a convulsion. Why was that? For the same reason that the New University of Ulster was sited in Coleraine not Derry: too many taigs in the latter. Coleraine was never suitable as a university location, and over the decades it’s been propped up by having courses shifted from Belfast to Coleraine. A colleague of mine at Jordanstown, in the early days of the merger between the Ulster Polytechnic outside Belfast and the New University of Ulster (NUU), was asked how he found the merger experience. “It is” he replied “like being strapped to a corpse”.

In some respects, Derry is a much-improved city than it was back then. But if half the funding that’s been ploughed into the Titanic Quarter had been allocated to Derry and other areas west of the Bann, much of the recent flood damage could have been avoided.

Final thought. Have you noticed how ‘Ulster’ features so frequently in titles like the Ulster Polytechnic, the New University of Ulster, the University of Ulster, Ulster University, Ulster Farmers’ Union, BBC Radio Ulster? But of course none of these institutions cater for one third of the province of Ulster. And hand in hand with this geographical over-reach, we have much talk of ‘the North-West’, which a moment’s glance at a map will tell you encompasses Derry and Donegal. You could almost hear the strain in the TV reporters’ voices as they were forced to allow that yes, there was a bit of flooding across the border as well, in places like the village of Muff.

Deliberate underinvestment and deceptive nomenclature: sure where else would you get it only in our wee NEN?



39 Responses to Destruction and discrimination west of the Bann

  1. fiosrach August 24, 2017 at 9:52 am #

    Jude, you only have to look at the six county map to see what way things are going. The greener it gets west of Port an Dúnáin and Cúl Raithin, the less attention it gets. This is a reflex move in the direction of repartition. Eventually parts of Fear Mánach and Tír Eoghain , like the other three Ulster counties, will be cast to the wind. You only have to drive through south Antrim and north down to realise that you are in a different ‘country’ from mid and west Tyrone and Fermanagh. The province is shrinking or being shrunk. Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan gone. Tyrone, Derry and Fermanagh going. The late Father Faul and Harold McCusker M P wouldn’t have agreed on many things but one of them was the inevitable rerepartition of Ulster. The six county state or NÍ Plc as the ‘going forwards’ like to call it does not exist in my mind. I examine all approaches to see do they contain NÍ or truncated Ulster and if I can avoid prison I will ignore them. PSNI, Fire Service NÍ, all NÍ charities etc . Some people may think that attitude unreal or unworkable and throw up the likes of the NÍ Blood Transfusion Service. Would I not accept blood from them? They miss the point. It’s not their work I object to but their name. To even speak the name of the bastard state is giving it legitimacy. That covers most things.

  2. James August 24, 2017 at 10:43 am #

    I hate to be pedantic about it, but I feel the need to correct you Jude. ”But think about it: the two major population centres in the state – Belfast and Derry”. My view is that there is only one ‘state’ and its name is Ireland. Having stated that, the major population centre in the State is Dublin, followed by Belfast and Cork. Just saying Jude.

    • Tam August 24, 2017 at 11:02 am #

      Your view is clearly deluded.

  3. Tam August 24, 2017 at 11:01 am #

    Deceptive nomenclature? Like calling the 26 counties ‘Ireland’?

    Dail Eireann?

    President of Ireland?

    • James August 24, 2017 at 11:45 am #

      Sorry to disappoint you Tam, you are quite welcome to disagree, but this is taken from the Irish constitution. ”The Constitution of Ireland of 1937, provides that Ireland (or Éire in Irish) is the official name of the State and following the enactment of the Republic of Ireland Act of 1948, in 1949, Ireland became a Republic” It is quite ok, even I make mistakes sometimes. Not very often mind you, but remember what I said in a previous post, ”keep calm at all times”.

      • Tam August 24, 2017 at 6:02 pm #

        Yes I know.

  4. Perkin Warbeck August 24, 2017 at 11:51 am #


    An Ulster is an overcoat across old shoulders
    Of Ireand thrown: owned by cold householders.
    (Keep your Bloody Forerland
    No need for floody moreland!)
    With pockets deep for handouts big as boulders.

    • Kieran Maxwell August 25, 2017 at 8:55 am #

      Thats brilliant Perkin.

  5. Barbara August 24, 2017 at 1:07 pm #

    Jude this really gets my blood boiling. As you know, I drove home to Derry on Tuesday through the storm and floods, aqua planing and gripping the wheel for dear life the whole way. But it’s the people who make they journey for work, twice a day by car or by the beloved 212, that my heart goes out to. What an injustice and I dignity we have to suffer, with record levels of unemployment here in Derry and prehistoric infrastructure. Like the destruction wreaked on Tuesday, the discrimination is shameful

  6. Brendan Hewitt August 24, 2017 at 3:01 pm #

    I was watching the news last night. I remarked to my brother that as the flood had happened in the N.West, they would be looking around to blame the heavy rain on someone! And with depressing predictability…

    • fiosrach August 24, 2017 at 5:15 pm #

      Don’t tell me that there is two of you. The intellectual cross chat must be like a lightning storm or maybe the brother is near normal.

    • Tam August 24, 2017 at 6:03 pm #

      Yes Brendan. The floods in the east are so much better

  7. Mike Coyle August 24, 2017 at 3:14 pm #

    From another perspective might suggest that Donegal suffers the same fate. A recent conversation with a senior Dublin politician even indicated that he had some difficulty distinguishing Lough Foyle from Lough Swilly, and that was just the geography!

  8. joe 155 August 24, 2017 at 4:00 pm #

    To be pedantic,Ulster is a man’s long, loose overcoat of rough cloth

  9. Colmán August 24, 2017 at 4:18 pm #

    We need more trees and less roads. Water will always choose the path of least resistance.

  10. Scott Rutherford August 24, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    If only we had a SF infrastructure minister, such as the young hotshot Chris Hazzard in office to address infrastructure problems in the NW……

    • Colmán August 24, 2017 at 4:26 pm #

      I don’t think that Chris Hazzard could take that job anymore since he is now the MP for South Down. As far as I know there are rules against double-jobbing

      • Scott Rutherford August 24, 2017 at 5:30 pm #

        That is true Colman, but I’m sure there’s some young pretender to take his place. Whichever SF minister it would be they’ll potentially have a few 100 million more to spend on infrastructure courtesy of the DUP.

        • Colmán August 24, 2017 at 5:37 pm #

          Courtesy of the tax payer you mean. Question is, if it is available this year why wasn’t it available last year when we needed it?

          • Scott Rutherford August 24, 2017 at 5:56 pm #

            Indeed courtesy of the tax payer, same as all public money.

            It’s available this year because due to electoral luck the DUP acquired huge political leverage.

            Who said taking your seats in Westminster was pointless eh..

          • Colmán August 24, 2017 at 9:42 pm #

            In 1993 in the Joint Declaration on Peace, the British Government issued a statement reaffirming that they had “no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland.” This was an important statement that led the way to peace in this land.

            Today the British Government could not in truth make the same statement. They have “a selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland.” It is called Brexit and they are using Northern Ireland, with the help of the DUP, to negotiate a trade deal with the European Union.

            Finally I would like to add that scrounging of the English for our own money is not a future I want, or a future I want for my descendants. I agree with the word of John McAllister in an interview on this website and I paraphrase, in order for a future in the Union or for a United Ireland we have to make NI work.

            I think that we should have political and economic independence from England. I think that the future of the Irish border should be decided by those who live on this island, not by those whose lives will not be effected by the border. I believe that we should be able to stand on our own feet.

          • Colmán August 24, 2017 at 9:43 pm #


          • Tam August 25, 2017 at 7:55 am #

            An independent Northern Ireland?

          • Colmán August 25, 2017 at 10:19 am #

            In order for the North to join the rest of Ireland in the future the state must be economically viable. The pocket money provided to us by Westminister is not sufficient to build a viable economy. It either needs to be spent or handed back. Saving and investment are impossible. I would prefer tax powers to be handed to Stormont. A vote for a United Ireland is dependent on the support of the majority in NI so nothing would change constitutionally without a majority voting for such change.

      • huge Celt. August 27, 2017 at 12:02 am #

        Ah right.

        Busy doing nothing then.

        Nice work if you can get it.

  11. fiosrach August 24, 2017 at 5:51 pm #

    Aye, but is it available or does it depend on a functioning executive being in place. James is not too sure and the rest of us don’t know. SF is not going back to the status quo irrespective of what sly tricks are in the DUP bag.

    • Scott Rutherford August 24, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

      My understanding Fiosrach is that it can only be spent by a minister. If the executive gets back up and running it’ll be a local minister. If theirs no agreement, it’ll be a direct rule minister when/if that happens.

      Either way it’ll get here eventually, but until then it’s held in reserve.

      • fiosrach August 24, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

        That’s what I wanted. A definitive statement from somebody who knows. I’ll sleep easier now.

  12. Tam August 24, 2017 at 6:07 pm #

    One wonders why these West of the Bann types keep voting SF if they are so neglectful of infrastructure.

  13. TurboFurbo August 25, 2017 at 7:43 am #

    Anybody seen “huge” ?

    • huge Celt. August 26, 2017 at 11:58 pm #


      I’m so glad you caught me – I was just time-travelling to the Miami Band Massacre in 1975.
      Let me just fix this mercury tilt device to the explosive, and I’ll be right back to you for a chat about our plans for the night…..cos y’know, me being an expert and all, I just knew that you’d be the first person I’d want to tell about the finer details of this operation….

  14. Brian Patterson August 25, 2017 at 8:14 am #

    Have to agree with Tam on one thing. “Ireland” is 32 counties, not 26.

    • Ryan2 August 25, 2017 at 6:51 pm #

      IReland is what the vast majority of the Irish say it is.

      • huge Celt. August 26, 2017 at 11:59 pm #


  15. fiosrach August 25, 2017 at 11:54 am #

    Ah but, a Bhriain, the Free State have purloined the term ‘Ireland’ to cover their jurisdiction.

  16. Willie D. August 25, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

    I presume the flooding we saw in recent years in South Belfast and in places like Larne, Ballymena, Cushendall, etc, wasn’t due to historic discrimination/under-investment, but to the fact that a large amount of rain fell in a short space of time in a relatively small area. What I’m tentatively suggesting is that the dumping of 60% of a month’s rainfall in a few hours in any part of N.I., or indeed England as we’ve also seen in recent years, would have resulted in similar flooding and a breakdown of imfrastructure. There has been an obvious change in weather patterns in the N-W of these islands and all infrastructure will have to be altered to deal with it. In the meantime if you’re not insured I suggest you sue God through his local earthly representatives as He is ultimately to blame.

    • huge Celt. August 27, 2017 at 12:07 am #

      @ Willie.

      I sense a certain amount of entirely unwarranted cynicism from you.

      Everyone knows that discrimination ends at the Border, and anyone that suggests that Donegal also had bridges washed away is obviously a traitor and an MI5 stooge.

      God, it seems, was actually a Prod.

    • huge Celt. August 27, 2017 at 12:10 am #

      Everyone knows Ballymena rain isn’t as wet as Derry rain.

  17. Catholicus Nua August 28, 2017 at 10:56 am #

    I think the flooding was caused by unusually heavy rain, not discrimination.