In his excellent Frontier Post BLOG on the 2nd February 2012 Darach McDonald (another great Clones author) compares how cross-border crossings are signposted, ensuring that the traveller knows that he is going from one jurisdiction to another. For many years Border crossings, such as Lackey Bridge dividing the Parish of Clones in County Monaghan from its Fermanagh hinterland in Northern Ireland, were marked, as Darach notes, “by concrete/steel barricades, road craters and blasted bridges that once left no doubt about the Border’s whereabouts”.
Today Lackey Bridge is rebuilt, hiding all signs of previous disruption. One could cross over the Border without even knowing it. Certainly, a visitor to the area travelling on the highway from Clones to Corranny via Lackey Bridge mightn`t know that they have arrived in Northern Ireland until they were met by a PSNI Officer – and that wouldn`t be too often in that part of Fermanagh!
But if you had an accident?
But, if you tripped or fell on the road or damaged your car on this road, it would be important to know whether this accident befell you in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.
Where such an accident occurs by reason of a defect in the road you would consider making a civil claim against the Local Authority. It`s important not only to know which Local Authority (Monaghan or Fermanagh) to sue but also whether the law of the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland applies to that defect.
Highway Law in Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, under Section 130 of the Highways Act, 1980 the Highway Authority (Roads Authority) has a duty to protect the general right of the public to use the public highway (roads) without hindrance and is liable in compensation generally to a member of the public should that member of the public suffer injury by reason of the failure of the Highway Authority to so maintain the public highway. So, if you sue it is likely that you are going to be compensated.
Highway Law in Republic of Ireland
The Law in the Republic of Ireland is not that straight forward. It is well established in the Republic of Ireland that, whereas a Local Authority may be liable for misfeasance, that is, acts of positively negligent character regarding the maintenance or repair of the road, it will not be liable for non-feasance, that is, the failure to maintain the road, however negligent that failure may have been.
Ironically, under Section 60 of the Civil liability Act 1961, it was recorded that a Road Authority would be liable for damage caused as a result of their failure to maintain adequately a public road. However, it was also recorded in Section 60 (7) of that Act that the Section was to come into operation on such day, not earlier than the 1st April 1967, as may be fixed therefore by Order made by the Government. No such order has yet been made and, despite the fact that this issue has come before the Supreme Court, it has been ruled that it is within the complete discretion of the Government as to when this liability is to come into effect. There is little chance of it being brought into operation in the current economic climate!
So, if you sue it is unlikely that you are going to be compensated!
Knowing the dividing line
At least if you were travelling from Clones to Lackey you should know in which jurisdiction the road defect occurred by reference to whether it occurred before or after Lackey Bridge. That is, provided it did not occur on Lackey Bridge!
But what if the accident occurred on a natural roadway not divided by rivers or bridges? Well, at that point you should instruct your local solicitor, who will undertake a mapping search of the accident location, establishing the appropriate jurisdiction, which Local Authority to sue and which law applies.
If you can`t get hold of a solicitor immediately?
I suggest that you read Darach`s BLOG : it will give you some idea of how these Borders can be divided. If necessary, talk to Darach, but don`t take legal advice from him!
Speaking of Border Crossings, yesterday evening I attended at the Retirement Do of Andy Pollak, former Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies, Armagh. Andy has been there from the start inspiring people towards Cross Border co-operation. Described as a “Pioneer” in the development of Cross Border Research by one of the Guest Speakers, he has been courageous and outspoken, using his journalistic experience and expertise to pursue his agenda.
Andy was the writer of Notes from the Next Door Neighbours which had a subscriber base of 6,000 throughout Ireland (I`m extremely jealous!). He wrote his last copy on the 26th June but subscribers will be delighted to note that Andy will continue blogging under a new title 2 Irelands Together where he has now published his first BLOG titled A Cross-Border Gun for Hire.
Andy will continue to manage the Centre`s “Towards a Border Development Zone” project.
You just can`t keep a good man down!