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Dublin and Belfast Integrated as a Mega-City Region

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This chapter and the last chapter were both about disintegration of urban/regional government and spatial patterns, and their re-integration as a tool of stabilisation. In this chapter, the main point is that economic and spatial integration – without needing to challenge sovereignty – is one channel to economic growth which may have notable concrete attractions.

Most readers will know something of the appalling history of Ireland, including the revolution, civil war and the drastic split between the north, loyalist and Protestant, and south, Catholic and yearning for independence from Britain. They will certainly know about the so-called ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, and also recent political progress, leading to the military disengagement of the Provisional IRA. Recently, things in the Republic, (since the time of Sean Lemass), have also changed greatly. The views of the public had altered markedly, with the Catholic church losing traction, and the distaste for the north and for Britain strongly blunted.

Until the current economic collapse, this had become an amazingly hopeful time to live and work in Ireland. There were several reasons for supposing this. The political problems in the north were and are clearly easing, whatever upsets and doubts arise on the way. The Republic in particular had had an astonishing economic efflorescence, and indeed the combination of political calm and the boom of the neighbouring economy has brought benefits to the quality of life in the north. This is manifest in the good, quotidian relations between north and south within the professional, business and academic life of the island. The unthinkable became quite normal territory for speculation, and mental barriers or narrow institutional loyalties seem well on the way to disappearing.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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