Londonderry is the actual name of the city and the county

Morning View
Morning View

A ridiculous row has flared up over a map produced by a government body in the Republic that referred to ‘Londonderry’.

Londonderry just happens to be the name of the city and of the county, albeit not the name of the council.

But when the Constituency Commission, appointed by the Irish government, called Londonderry by its name rather than ‘Derry’ a politician in the Republic expressed outrage.

Brian Ó Domhnaill said: “I was taken aback by the recent Constituency Commission report which showed the city of Derry as Londonderry on its map.”

He added: “That should be addressed and should never, ever be allowed to happen again, when it is paid for by the Irish taxpayer.”

With such a ludicrous over-reaction, you might think that Mr Ó Domhnaill was a Sinn Fein representative. But he isn’t. He is Fianna Fail senator.

Across society in the Republic, references seem to be solely to Derry, including in the media. The actual name is ignored.

Nationalists on either side of the border feel so strongly about the matter, so determined to exclude the ‘London’ from the title, that they seemingly never use the actual title.

But unionists in the Northwest tend not to be the opposite of that – they often use Derry as well as Londonderry.

If nationalists are determined only ever to use their preferred name of Derry then that is, as the Foyle DUP MLA Gary Middleton says, obviously entirely up to them.

But for Mr Ó Domhnaill to be “taken aback” and to vow adamantly that it “should never, ever be allowed to happen again” is silly, given that Londonderry is the name, however much republicans would wish it to be otherwise.

Casual references are one thing, and the Irish authorities will make their own choices about what formal name to use.

But in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, formal and official references must be to the actual name of the city and council.