The legacy of partition


A chara, – Simon Coveney’s description of partition as a “terrible mistake” is inaccurate (News, October 12th). Partition (like the 1998 Belfast Agreement) was a compromise solution to a violent situation. Unacceptable for some, it was seen by others as a short-term arrangement, however unpalatable. The “terrible mistake” in Irish-British/North-South relations was the 1948 Republic of Ireland Act, introduced by then taoiseach John A Costello, and passed in December 1948, and subsequently recognised by Westminster with the Ireland Act 1949.

This Act in effect copper-fastened partition, further isolating nationalists in the North, contrary to Articles 2 and 3 (since removed) of the 1937 Constitution.– Is mise,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – In his letter of October 13th, Michael Gannon invites Simon Coveney to consider his remarks on partition as having been a “terrible mistake” and asks the Minister to consider the feelings of the many people in Northern Ireland who support its status within the UK.

Without wishing to dispute these presumably genuine sentiments, perhaps Mr Gannon would consider whether the British government was indeed mistaken in 1914 when it conceded to the threat of unionist violence in the event of a democratically mandated Home Rule (not to mention the threat by its own army during the Curragh incident), and so began making preparations for partition.

I am reminded of the saying “worse than a crime, a mistake”. – Yours, etc,




Dublin 4.