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Image © Conor Healy/Picture It Photography
Image © Conor Healy/Picture It Photography

Press release -

Taoiseach Micheál Martin highlights transformative power of EU membership for Ireland

Ahead of St. Patrick’s Day and in advance of the 50th anniversary of Ireland’s referendum on EU membership on 10 May 1972, Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheál Martin addressed the importance of EU membership for the country at Eurofound’s Foundation Forum in Dublin Castle. He highlighted: ‘Few events in Ireland’s history as an independent state has been so transformative.

The five decades since, have witnessed Ireland’s emergence as a modern open economy and society, shaped by close reciprocal cooperation with our European partners.

This transformation was supported by our European partners, including through substantial structural funding, as well as through the vital role that our European Union membership has played in the journey towards peace and reconciliation on this island of Ireland.

On the issue of social and work-related policies, Eurofound’s core issues, he added: ‘It is important also to acknowledge that sitting at the European Union table over these five decades helped give us the scope and the confidence to develop progressive new agendas across a broad range of policy areas.

Our membership gave us the impetus we needed to strengthen our own human rights record, to drive forward civil and social rights, to introduce gender equality legislation, to improve protection of workers’ rights and to become a much more tolerant, kinder and inclusive country, than the Ireland of 1972.

We are proud that Ireland has become a beacon to others of what the European Union can help a country to achieve.

Eurofound’s Foundation Forum

In cooperation with the Irish Government, Eurofound organised its 7th flagship Foundation Forum 2022 on 3 March. With over 1500 participants, this one-day event was an opportunity to explore the theme of Europe’s recovery and how, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU can work to ensure lasting equality, inclusion and social cohesion as it embarks on its path to rebuild a greener, more digital and more resilient Union.

50th anniversary of Ireland’s EU membership

In January 1972, Taoiseach Jack Lynch and Minister for Foreign Affairs Patrick Hillery signed the Treaty of Accession to the EU. With over 83%, the Irish people voted ‘Yes’ to join the then called European Economic Communities (EEC) in a referendum on 10 May 1972. Subsequently on 1 January 1973, Ireland officially became an EEC Member State. These crucial moments for Ireland will be marked throughout this and next year with Ireland celebrating 50 years of EU membership.

Following the EU accession, Eurofound, the EU Agency for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, was established in Dublin under the first Irish EU Commissioner, Dr Patrick Hilary. It highlighted Ireland’s important place in contributing to the social dimension of the EEC at the time.

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James Higgins

James Higgins

Press contact Communication Officer +353-1-204-3100

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Eurofound, a tripartite European Union Agency, provides knowledge to assist in the development of social, employment and work-related policies

Eurofound (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions) is a tripartite EU body, whose mission is to provide knowledge to assist in the development of better social, employment and work-related policies.

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