Irish Republican News · August 27, 2006
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Border lines

By Laurence McKeown (for Daily Ireland)

For those who live close to the border, operating in both currencies is as natural as breathing. Travelling to work either side of it is no different from travelling to any other county in Ireland. For others, however, south of the border is a foreign country.

Take the postal service for instance. I always knew it took an amazing amount of time to send a simple greetings card from Belfast to Gweedore.

Recently I discovered, however, that if you are a member of staff at Queen’s University, Belfast it would be much quicker to hand deliver an item of mail to a destination in Dublin and to travel there on foot rather than to use their postal service. I’m serious.

Some years ago Queen’s University bought into a ‘UK university-wide’ contract for handling all ‘foreign’, that is ‘non-UK’, mail.

Dundalk, according to the large world-wide courier company employed by Queen’s, is a foreign destination, so outgoing mail is sorted into two piles with Royal Mail picking up the UK pile and the courier picking up the ‘foreign’ pile.

The mail destined for Dundalk is first sent to London to the courier’s central sorting office.

There the letter is sorted into a bag bound for Dublin, handed over to Royal Mail, who in turn deliver it to An Post in Dublin from where a green van takes it to Dundalk. On average the whole process takes about five days.

Now, despite ongoing roadworks on the West Link and the dual carriageway between Belfast/Newry/Dundalk I can travel the route in well under an hour and a half, allowing time for a stop off for coffee, a quick read of the paper, make a few calls on the mobile and stretch my legs.

Not to mention either that our letter to Dundalk will cost a lot more than the same letter travelling ten times the distance to Penzance.

And it works the other way round as well.

A friend’s daughter recently tried to phone the Central Applications Office in Galway about a university place once the Northern ‘A’ Level results came out.

She couldn’t get through because she was phoning the helpline from Belfast and it’s not set up to receive calls from the North.

Partition is alive and well.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News