Saturday 10 December 2016

John Downing : So what did the European Union ever do for us? A heck of a lot as it happens

Published 29/12/2012 | 05:00

Taoiseach Enda Kenny holds a news conference at the end of an EU leaders summit in Brussels
Taoiseach Enda Kenny holds a news conference at the end of an EU leaders summit in Brussels

APART from the motorway funding and the farm grants, what did the EU ever do for Ireland? The short answer is: a heck of a lot – but much of the really important stuff is too often overlooked.

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'Into Europe – Out of Work' was a slogan of the small group of Labour and Sinn Fein campaigners against Ireland joining the then-EEC during the referendum canvass in the spring of 1972. That slogan did not work.

On May 10, 1972, seven out of 10 Irish voters went to their local polling booth and 83pc of those said Yes – it was a 5:1 landslide. For the vast bulk of people – but especially Irish farmers – it was all about money. Garret FitzGerald, over six decades Ireland's biggest advocate of European participation, frankly admitted this.

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