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  • Publication
    The realms of practical politics : North-South co-operation on the Erne Hydro-Electric Scheme 1942-57
    (University College Dublin. Institute for British-Irish Studies, 2006)
    From 1942 to 1957 North and South co-operated to enable the Irish Electricity Supply Board to build the most effective power plant possible on the River Erne in southern territory by ensuring that, through dredging and various civil engineering works in northern territory, the Erne lakes were able to provide sufficient water flow to power the turbines. This project offered significant attractions to interests on both sides of the border: electricity to the South, and drainage of the Erne catchment area to the North. It took from 1942 to 1950 for Dublin and Belfast to come to an agreement on the manner of co-operation over the Erne. Finally, in May 1950, parallel legislation introduced in the Dáil and in Stormont on the same day led to the Erne Drainage and Development Act which allowed the Electricity Supply Board and the Northern Ireland Ministry of Finance to sign an agreement to facilitate cooperation in September 1950. This paper argues that, for the 1940s and 1950s, and given the strongly anti-partitionist mood in Irish foreign policy, the agreement over the Erne scheme marked a major step forward for relations between Dublin and Belfast and provided a workable template for co-operation.