Officials discussed the possibility of redrawing the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic in the 1970s, the National Archives of Ireland has revealed.
Reducing the size of the NI was one of the options proposed by civil servants in Dublin in response to the escalating violence during the unrest.
They were asked to consider the costs and consequences of such a scenario.
The 1975 discussion paper was first made public as part of the annual publication of state documents.
The previously released secret document was titled “The Negotiated Repartition of Northern Ireland” and included proposals to relocate large swaths of land and hundreds of thousands of people from the north to the south.
The Irish government wanted to prepare for any eventuality, including the possibility of British withdrawal, large-scale violence, or even civil war.
The authors of this discussion paper envisioned a variety of possibilities for the route of the new land border, but even the most conservative believe that many towns and villages would be transferred to the Republic of Ireland, with only County Antrim remaining intact. It’s going to happen.
Under the maximum change option, two-thirds of Northern Ireland would become part of the Republic, with all of County Fermanagh and large parts of counties Tyrone, Down, Armagh and Londonderry changing jurisdiction. become.
According to Irish broadcaster RTÉ, this option would see 486,000 residents (285,000 Catholics and 201,000 non-Catholics) move from north to south.
The cost of redrawing borders and rehousing affected populations was estimated at the time to be up to £873 million, which would be more than £7 billion in today’s money.
But officials also suggested there would be a “significant economic burden” if borders were forced to be redrawn as a result of large-scale violence.
The discussion paper also considered the consequences of Irish military intervention in Northern Ireland to “quell loyalist resistance”.
Irish government advisers concluded that this option was “beyond our military and administrative capabilities”.
Although the 1975 Plan was not necessary, it was not the first time the Irish government had submitted its own proposals to change the border.
When the island of Ireland was partitioned in 1921, the Anglo-Irish Treaty stated that a recently established commission would be set up to determine the future boundaries of Northern Ireland.
However, due to the outbreak of the Irish Civil War, the Irish Border Commission did not hold its first meeting until 1924.
The commission’s recommendations were partially leaked to the Morning Post in November 1925, and the report horrified the Irish government, which had not expected to lose any part of its territory to Northern Ireland.
The then leader of the Irish Free State, WT Cosgrave, traveled to London for talks, and both governments agreed to shelve the commission’s recommendations and maintain the border along its original 1921 route.