The North-West of Ireland
Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh and Donegal
• Northern Ireland (NI) contains six counties, traditionally divided into an eastern and western half
• Almost 30% of NI’s population live in its three western counties of Derry,Tyrone & Fermanagh. Together with Donegal in Republic of Ireland (ROI), these four counties comprise ‘West Ulster’, or the North-West of the Island
• Derry City is NI’s 2nd biggest urban settlement, capital of the cross-border North West City Region, and the 4th biggest city on the island.
• Despite straddling the border, the four counties are extremely integrated economically, socially & culturally. For example, 46% of all cross-border commuting from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland is between Donegal & Derry City.
• However, decades of extremely poor infrastructure has left the western half of the province of Ulster cut off from the rest of Northern Ireland to the east, and the rest of the island to the south.
End of an Era
• Until the middle of the 20th Century, the North West of the island had a comprehensive rail network – connecting all its counties and towns to each other and beyond. Derry had four terminal railway stations.
• A series of line closures across the 1950s and 1960s erased most rail infrastructure in Derry, and all from counties Tyrone, Fermanagh, Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan.
• The only line to survive was the Derry-Belfast line. All cross-border routes were removed in the west leaving the Belfast – Dublin line below Newry as the only cross border route.
Further Attempted Cuts
• In 2004, 6 years after the Good Friday Agreement, civil servants took advantage of the Stormont Assembly being suspended to propose shutting the last remaining section of rail infrastructure in west Ulster.
• They proposed the closure of the Belfast-Derry line west of Coleraine and possibly even north of Ballymena.
• It took a high profile public campaign, headed by Into the West, to save the line and persuade Stormont to upgrade the line instead.
• Almost 20 years on, the line was been saved from closure but the promised upgrade has still not been completed.