Saturday 20 January 2018

Stark choice for Taoiseach: European federation or special bond with Britain

Never mind EU dominance, we would cease to exist as an economy if we lost our vital British trading links, writes John-Paul McCarthy

The Taoiseach seems committed to establishing a close relationship with British Prime Minister David Cameron. Some part of him may sense a fork in the historical road ahead, one that may force the Republic of Ireland to make an historic choice between our vital relationship with the UK and our more ideological relationship with the EU.

It is Enda Kenny's misfortune to have become Taoiseach just as Ireland's relationship with the EU assumed terrifyingly unwieldy proportions. Sean Lemass always assumed that the European link would naturally bring net benefits to Ireland, especially in psychological terms. If only the General in the Elysee could be squared, he thought, Ireland could break free from the straitjacket of Anglo-Irish relations and get access to a huge continental export market, thereby freeing her from the clanking chains of her earlier disastrous protectionist policies. Garret FitzGerald thought much the same. (He admitted to voting for Lemass in the 1965 general election after all).

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