Talk:Irish Boundary Commission

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Book reference[edit]

Does anybody have access to Irish Boundary Commission (1969) Report of the Irish Boundary Commission, 1925. Introduced by Geoffrey J. Hand. Shannon : Irish University Press. 327.415042 IRI ? There is a reference in the Dáil record of 1967 that the British authorities had agreed to permit "access" to (but not "publication" of) the report. Has nothing more emerged in the intervening 40 years? --Red King 02:02, 13 November 2005 (UTC)

Some Irish History books carry maps of what puports to be the new border as recommended by the commision but I cant find any if these maps online 15:53, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

The full report is available on PDF for download for free from the UK's National Archives:*&catid=32&pagenumber=1&querytype=1&mediaarray=* (talk) 21:13, 23 June 2012 (UTC)

The Original Report[edit]

An original, hardback copy of the 1925 report has been available, for many years, in the Linenhall Library, Donegall Square North, Belfast. The library has always been very fussy about people copying anything and its staff are not always the most helpful, unless one is a "celebrity" researcher, a Gaelic enthusiast or an Irish-American looking for his long-lost Great-Great Grandfather.

It's fairly safe to say that the Crown Copyright has expired, after eighty-one years. There was also a BBC Northern Ireland documentary on the subject, presented by Sunday World Editor, Jim McDowell, during 2006. The BBC will not provide copies of old programmes, unless you're a member of the Royal family or the Secretary of State.

The report's full-colour tribal maps of the northern part of Ireland are fascinating. [I used to have a similar book on Yugoslavia, published at around the same time, so the Boundary Commission Report is not unique.] There were dozens of enclaves, within th Irish Free State, which had Protestant majorities and, indeed, the Boundary Commission proposed to transfer some of these [such as those in E Donegal, N Monaghan and around Pettigo] to Northern Ireland, while transferring Crossmaglen, Belleek, the district around Castlederg and other bits and pieces to the Free State. I think that the Free State would have made gains, in area, but that Northern Ireland was getting more valuable farmland and more people. NI would also have had a larger unionist majority and a more defensible border.

Some historians have suggested, in recent years, that the Free State Government didn't want Northern Ireland to be stable, in the long run, and that this desire was one of the reasons for rejecting the report. No one had expected the South African chairman to use geography and economics as the primary basis for his conclusions and Dublin was furious that the British Government seemed to have broken its "promise" [i.e. Lloyd George's "confident prediction"] to carve up Northern Ireland, to the point where it was unviable.

The refusal of unionists to contemplate a happier, more relaxed, safer and more secure state shows how they were more interested in maintaining power than they were in winning political battles against nationalists and assuring Northern Ireland's future. Unionism wouldn't exist without Irish nationalism: people in Belfast would have voted for the Northern Ireland Labour Party, if they hadn't constantly been made to feel under threat. Most of the measures, which the Unionist Regime took [such as the aboliltion of PR] were designed to destroy rivals to the Ulster Unionist Party [i.e. other parties, for which Protestants would have considered voting] and certainly not to destroy the Nationalist Party, unionism's raison d'etre.

The short-sightedness and self-interest of unionists was displayed very clearly in 1974, when they destroyed the power-sharing executive and plunged Northern Ireland into thirty more years of murder, economic disaster and population change, none of which worked in their favour. Now, the DUP have signed up to something they could have had, almost thirty-four years ago.


"Irish Boundary Commission" vs. "Boundary Commission (Ireland)"[edit]

Should we move this article to Boundary Commission (Ireland), as their is sufficent reason to assume that "Boundary Commission" was its common and official name rather than "Irish Boundary Commission", the latter which seams unlikely? Djegan 21:12, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

What's the formal title of the body in the Republic that reviews and adjusts Dail boundaries? Would this more not create confusion? Timrollpickering 23:09, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
The "Constituency Commission"[1] is used to determine Dail boundaries at this time. The Boundary Commission, as established by the Anglo-Irish Treaty, remains unambiguous in the Republic as the boundary commission and most school leavers would have no difficulty in identifying it (not least because of the mini-crisis it caused in the fledging state). Moreover Ireland as a disambig term makes it clear that the current "Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland"[2] is not implied. Notwithstanding, I have no problem with Irish Boundary Commission, but a valid case must be made that it is an official and/or commoner term, and not simply "snappier". Djegan 23:30, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
Since the term "Ireland" is itself ambiguous, I don't see how you can say that! --Red King 23:49, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

Most other sources I've found refer to the "Irish Boundary Commission" - though of course most are also written for a UK audience, for whom the term "Boundary Commission" means precisely the UK equivalent of the Irish "Constituency Commission". We have to think of international readership. The Commission was established to determine the Irish Boundary. See for example the title of the most widely cited book, mentioned above. (There are similar Boundary Commissions around the world that are/were set up to analyse international boundaries. [Look in Google Advanced, not .UK]. We need Boundary Commission (disambiguation), I think) --Red King 23:49, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

Point taken about Ireland, but Irish means Ireland as much as Northern Irish means Northern Ireland, (tell someone from Northern Ireland that they are Irish and wait for a response)! It must be remembered that the Boundary Commission was as much a commission on the Irish Free State boundary as that of Northern Ireland and indeed this appears to be confirmed by a statement given by David Lloyd George (apparently Dec 6, have vague ref in a written encyclopedia) to cabinet that the Irish Free State may loose territory; additionally this appears to be part of the reason for the suppressed report. Djegan 00:06, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
Point taken as well about UK audience, how often do we see and read about "National Health Service", "Member of Parliament" and other very specific UK-terms that are applied to non-UK places, simply because the convey a concept quickly. Djegan 00:19, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

Unless anyone has reservations to the contrary, I will move the article as I specified above. Djegan 13:11, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

Financial trade-off[edit]

I've added in the IFS Treaty payment obligations set-off against keeping the 1920 line. Not a good deal for GB and NI in the long term, and not admissible in the South due to the irredentist claims; perhaps why this has been kept so quiet for 80 years. It's a wicked old world. Always look at the boring accounts, not the silly flags! Cheers,Wikiman 11:43, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

It wasn't kept quiet. I've added the Dail debate URL reference; the amount has always been in there. Not given its due priority perhaps.Red Hurley 17:19, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Final Agreement[edit]

Was Northern Ireland a party to the final agreement? As a non-sovereign entity, it surely wasn't in any position to be party to an agreement between countries. JAJ 04:09, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

Sovereign States[edit]

A spurious, legalistic argument, surely? The Northern Ireland Government's approval was sought because it was needed. Ironically, in view of the outcome, it was the Belfast Government [Stormont was seven years from completion], and not the Dublin Government, which had boycotted the Commission.

"Southern Ireland" was not a sovereign state in 1920-21 and yet the British Government signed a "Treaty" [not recognised as a true, internationl treaty, in law] with its representatives, having held talks with them and James Craig's Government.

(Evieconrad is referring here to the Anglo-Irish Treaty. In fact the British Government signed a treaty with the representatives of the Irish Republic, though it didn't recognise the existence of that state.

[No other state recognised the existence of the so-called Irish Republic. It was not a legal entity in any recognised system of law, either national or international. The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, having taken the advice of the Attorney-General, told the Dail, some time ago, that the authority of the modern-day Dublin Government stems from legislation, passed by Westminster, and the subsequent transfer of power by Britain on 6 December 1922. Your use of the term "nicety", below, shows that Irish "religio-nationalists" are STILL not capable of looking at their history objectively. The law is not "nice" or "nasty": it just is. The British Government, in the period 1918-22 was bound by convention and normal legal practices (unlike more recent administrations, it seems), whereas the fly-by-night "First Dail" could do whatver it liked because it wasn't a proper government, although it had some of the features of one. EC]

So, to preserve British legal niceties, it needed the Parliament of Southern Ireland to convene for the first time ever to ratify that treaty in UK law, or confirm its earlier ratification by Dáil Éireann in Irish law.

[There was no such thing as "Irish law", in that context. "Irish law", in the universally accepted sense, actually means the law of the State, which was established in 1922. At the time of independence, the codefied part of Irish law consisted of the statutes in force, all of which would either have been passed by Westminster (1801-1922) or by the old Irish Parliament (before 1801). As I treat nationalists and unionists with equal disdain, it doesn't make any difference to me when the blessed republic was set up or by whom but if this encyclopaedia is to mean anything, then we have to stick to reality. That will be a hard thing to do for people who have been brainwashed by their teachers and parents, since the age of three and are incapable of seeing anything, except through tinted specs- whether green or orange.] The world goes round on such spurious legalistic arguments! So the outcome was the 26 county Irish Free State, itself a "dominion" and presenting a rather closer model than Newfoundland.) --Red King 23:34, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

[Newfoundland is a good comparison. It was also an economic backwater with a Third-World economy, it was heavily dependent on Britain and political life, in the dominion, was poisoned by religion. Read about how the British Government played the relgious card in 1949, in order to get shot of Newfoundland. It seems that Orangemen are equally thick in North America. EC]

At the very end of the negotiations, Lloyd George used the need to consult the Belfast Government ["The train is waiting with steam up, at Euston..."] to bring the process to a conclusion and force a decision, one way or the other.

Interestingly, at the time of the Boundary Commission (1925), there was a [not entirely serious] suggestion. from the Unionist Party, that Northern Ireland should become a "dominion". The tiny, fish-dependent Newfoundland was still a dominion, at that point, and Northern Ireland was paying its way, in the days before the collapse of manufacturing and the introduction of the welfare state, so independence would have been theoretically possible. [Certainly not desirable, I might add.]

However, while the British Government would dearly have loved to send everyone in Ireland packing and remove the Irish Question permanently from the "exam paper of government", Whitehall was worried about the implications that such a loose cannon, a "Dominion of Ulster", would have had for Britain's relations with the Roman Catholic Church [still extremely influential inside the Foreign Office, back then] and the United States. There was the possibilty of a "Royal Ulster Air Force" bombing IRA targets in the Free State or of the Irish Army retaliating. London didn't want to know about Ireland but it didn't want the whole mess blowing up in its face again, either. (unsigned edit 18:15, 22 November 2006 user:Evieconrad

Furthermore, in UK law, since the Irish Free State was a dominion with the King as Head of State, it wasn't a sovereign government either. --Red King 23:36, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

[Not so. While, in 1925. the Statute of Westminster was six years away, for all practical purposes, the Irish Free State was a sovereign, independent country. If we follow your argument- about the rights and status of Commonwealth countries- to its utterly illogical conclusion, then Canada wasn't independent in 1982 because it had to ask Westminster to amend/ repeal the BNAA and pass new legislation, transferring the remaining powers to Ottawa and Jamaica still isn't independent because the Judical Committee of the Privy Council can ultimately commute a death sentence, imposed by a court in Kingston. If the Irish Free State [Eire/Ireland after 1937] hadn't been independent, deValera wouldn't have been able to write his own constitution or stay out of the Second World War. EC]

I don't think it mattered. Suppose 2 or 3 counties agreed to change their mutual boundaries, none would be sovereign, but it would be binding. The 1921-22 Treaty said the boundary would be dealt with and all sucessor parties (IFS / NI / GB) had agreed to that. The Treaty hadn't specified exactly how much money the IFS owed GB and Cosgrave realised by 1924 that he couldn't pay the lower amount, and used the boundary wrangle to do a trade-off. I don't think anyone working on the Treaty in 1921 knew how this would pan out. Turned out that the vast amounts that the British were supposedly stealing from Ireland were non-existent. Ireland had been on subsidies since 1900 and the plug was pulled in 1920 in the south.
As for NI 'paying its way', it made a big net contribution to GB in 1923 and has had net payments from GB ever since.Red Hurley 16:55, 18 May 2007 (UTC)

Papers I've seen from the UK Joint Exchequer Board and the Treasury suggest that Northern Ireland's tax revenue was roughly equivalent to expenditure, until the financial year, 1949-50. I have no problem admitting that, since then, it has been bottle fed. I don't see why this is a major point of contention, anyway. The NI Government had (barely) enough money in the 1920s because it didn't provide anything for the people of Northern Ireland, not because Northern Ireland was an economic powerhouse. It cetainly wasn't. Many of its industries never really recovered after the First World War and it wasn't until the largesse of post-Second-World-War British governments allowed the building of new houses, schools, factories, roads and hospitals that the standard of living began to improve for most people. Even then, Unionists were extremely reluctant to become involved in "socialist" projects and probably only did so (a) to outdo the Republic of Ireland and (b) to keep the NI Labour Party, which enjoyed a mini-revival in the late 1940s, at bay. I think that both of us would look on Unionist governments with contempt but the one good thing that Basil Brooke's government did was to fight (with Whitehall officials) to establish the principle of parity in social provision. Without that, Northern Ireland would have ended up as a sort of Northern European version of Burkina Faso. EC

Additions May 2009[edit]

I've found and added memos of the original negotiations leading to the agreement of 3 December 1925. All sides exhibit the usual climbing up and then down from their positions. I'm a resident of what was the Free State and I have to say the full story was not told to us at school. Instead the story was that the boundary was imposed 2-1, with no mention of the negotiations or financial advantages.Red Hurley (talk) 12:02, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

I doubt that schoolchildren in other jurisdictions were any better informed. Many of the primary sources are not long available, and who knows what gems as yet lie 'undiscovered'? RashersTierney (talk) 12:17, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
You're right as usual, Rashers, but the Dáil reports said it all and had been published for decades.Red Hurley (talk) 14:50, 15 June 2009 (UTC)


I reverted the deletion of Donalpcorcoran's addition of "Freedom to Achieve Freedom: The Irish Free State 1922-1932" (by Donal P. Corcoran) to "Further Reading". Donalpcorcoran seems to have added the same reference to about a dozen articles in one day. Notwithstanding the apparent WP:COI, Mr. Corcoran's book is a useful secondary source for information on the subject of this article, especially on the negotiations that followed the Morning Post article. Fiachra10003 (talk) 16:17, 2 October 2014 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was move per unanimous support.--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 13:11, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

Boundary Commission (Ireland)Irish Boundary Commission — Contrary to what Djegan surmised 5 years ago, the official name was indeed "Irish Boundary Commission", as evinced by both the title page of the facsimile published in 1969 and the record in the UK national archives. --jnestorius(talk) 16:37, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

  • Mild oppose Support - there appear to be some sources which just say "Boundary Commission" (for example [3]) while others say "Irish Boundary Commission" ([4]). I'm not sure there's therefore an overwhelming case to move, but I could be wrong...  — Amakuru (talk) 20:01, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
I don't see why newspaper reports should be allowed to overrule the official name of the body. See also "Irish Boundary Commission". In the Dáil, note [5] [6] formal "Irish Boundary Commission" and informal "Boundary Commission". jnestorius(talk) 23:04, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
Fair enough, your point is a valid one! Changing vote to "support".  — Amakuru (talk) 23:21, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
  • CommentSupport I'm inclined to support this one, unless I'm missing some 'common sense' reason not to. RashersTierney (talk) 23:16, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Strong support and keep a redirect from Boundary Commission (Ireland).Red Hurley (talk) 08:31, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Support per nom. Snappy (talk) 19:16, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Who ratified what[edit]

In the lede it says: "and the existing border was ratified by W. T. Cosgrave, Sir James Craig, and Stanley Baldwin on 3 December 1925 as part of a wider agreement". But surely they agreed it and it was ratified by the 3 parliaments over the following week. Any problems with that?PatrickGuinness (talk) 16:56, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

The Map[edit]

On 7 November 1925 an English Conservative newspaper, The Morning Post, published leaked notes of the negotiations, including a draft map. The overall effects of the Boundary Commission's recommendations would have been the transfer of 286 square miles to the Free State and 77 square miles to Northern Ireland.[1] The leaked report included, accurately, the Boundary Commission recommendation that parts of east Donegal would be transferred to Northern Ireland. Only 1 in every 25 Northern Irish Catholics would have been placed under Free State rule.[2] The Boundary Commission's recommendations would have shortened the border by 51 miles (approx. 18%).[3]

The Boundary Commission's recommendations, as reported on in the The Morning Post were seen as an embarrassment in Dublin. There they were perceived as being contrary to the overarching purpose of the Commission, which they considered was to award the more Nationalist parts of Northern Ireland to the Free State. Professor MacNeill resigned his cabinet post on 20 November.[4][5] Despite resigning, he then voted in favour of the settlement on 10 December. It is likely that the press leak caused the boundary negotiations to be swept into the wider agreement signed on 3 December (see below).[6]

"If the settlement succeeded it would be a great disservice to Ireland, North and South, to have a map produced showing what would have been the position of the persons on the Border had the Award been made. If the settlement came off and nothing was published, no-one would know what would have been his fate. He himself had not seen the map of the proposed new Boundary. When he returned home he would be questioned on the subject and he preferred to be able to say that he did not know the terms of the proposed Award. He was certain that it would be better that no-one should ever know accurately what their position would have been."

Do we know what the map showed? AlwynJPie (talk) 06:48, 1 October 2015 (UTC)

Available at StackExchange. Haven't checked whether the image can be used here. samillar94 (talk) 03:19, 2 May 2017 (UTC)
Also! An older, maybe early version at this history site and this one here. samillar94 (talk) 03:37, 2 May 2017 (UTC)

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  1. ^ 'The Irish Border: History, Politics, Culture' By Malcolm Anderson, Eberhard Bort, pg. 96
  2. ^ 'The Irish Border: History, Politics, Culture' By Malcolm Anderson, Eberhard Bort, pg. 96
  3. ^ 'The Irish Border: History, Politics, Culture' By Malcolm Anderson, Eberhard Bort, pg. 96
  4. ^ "Irish cabinet notes, 10 Nov 1925". 1925-11-10. Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  5. ^ "Irish cabinet memo, 21 Nov 1925". 1925-11-21. Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  6. ^ Paul Bew "Ireland: The Politics of Enmity, 1789–2006" (Oxford University Press, 2007) p.447. ISBN 0-19-820555-4