This week in the Leader we looked at the recent border tensions brought on by the dire need of Drogheda to expand.
The recent rise in ethnic tensions along the Louth Meath border has been cause for concern.
While the situation hasn’t as yet broken into violent conflict, citizens on both sides of the border have been stocking up on canned food and asking dodgy friends to reopen any arms dumps missed by General John de Chastelain’s Independent International Commission on Decommissioning. Just to be safe.
Politicians on both sides of the border have been guilty of sabre rattling and scare mongering in recent months. Rumours that Kofi Annan is living on a UN jet, ready to be deployed as a peace keeping envoy at a moment’s notice refuse to go away. Local rallies calling for Louth to annex an area from Nobber to Navan have been well attended and have stopped just short of labelling all Meath born living in Drogheda with green and gold stars.
Across the border in the plush tennis playing cantons of Bettystown the talk has been of inverting the initial proposals to enlarge Drogheda and instead incorporate the town into Meath, where it would be much better served generally. Hysterical Meath Councillors would have you believe that the commercially vibrant hubs of Laytown and Duleek would stimulate Drogheda’s moribund economy and control of Drogheda Port by Meathmen would bring untold riches to the area.
However, seasoned Meath watchers have been predicting a land grab like this for years. With a population grown rich from generations of EU farming subsidies and creative accounting, Meath, they say, was always in danger of county collapse once the EU turned the grant tap off and the austerity tap on.
The fertile soils of the Royal County cocooned it somewhat from the depths of the recession and it is only now that the East Meath elite are having to tighten their belts – a blade removed from the helicopter here, the least nubile of the au-pairs let go there. Social services in what one councilor (Paddy Meade) labelled ‘the Gaza Strip’ have been inundated with phone calls from children suffering from the ill effects of not eating Marks & Spencers food every day.
Once upon a time, the Royal County would pile her excess sons onto cattle boats bound for wherever. However, the recent migrant crisis has seen countries exercise more stringent entry requirements. A Kepak jersey, a rudimentary grasp of English and a sense of entitlement is no longer enough. This has led to a build-up of jingoism. All those young boys who’d sit out by the road waving Meath flags in the late 1980s and 1990s are now in positions of power. So should Louth be worried?
Drogheda’s long suffering population is well used to hordes of Meath jerseys spilling over the border and celebrating in local pubs out of pure badness. Rightly or wrongly, many Wee folk see the Boundary Commission primarily as justice for 2010, 2002 and 1998.
But many die-hard locals are open to the idea of Drogheda become part of Meath. The town received another kick in the teeth last week as Dundalk received €2 million from the EU to be matched by another €2 million from Louth County Council coffers, paid for in part by Drogheda.
Maybe it is time to throw our lot in with Meath. It can’t be much worse that it is already.