Strong ties with the EU are central to Ireland’s future

In global affairs, US President Franklin Roosevelt was a firm believer in what he called “the good-neighborhood policy.” There’s a lot to be said for it, especially when the neighborhood goes to hell. Between Brexit, the pandemic and now the war in Ukraine, we have had ample time to reflect on the worth of our friends in unprecedented times.

reland will soon celebrate its union with Europe as we celebrate our 50th anniversary as an EU member. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced this in advance and renewed this bond in a reassuring and farsighted address to the Oireachta homes.

Her reaffirmation of the EU position that there must be no hard border on the island of Ireland is an important statement at a time of instability.

“Brexit will not be an obstacle on the road to reconciliation in Ireland,” she said.

She also made it clear that any solution must ensure that the single market continues to function, and if both sides “pay attention to that careful balance, a workable solution is within reach”.

Surely everyone agrees that it is time to take relationships out of the ice bath that Brexit has thrown us into.

Britain, Ireland and the EU have too many common interests to conflict with each other. Therefore, no effort should be spared to go beyond confrontational and antagonistic positions.

A positive close is worth any effort that may be required. Citing encouraging signals from London, particularly from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Ms Von der Leyen said a “sensitive and careful balance” could be found.

“Europe was the spur to look beyond the barbed wire” and heal north-south divides, she said. Referring to the use of our huge wind energy potential, she also said that Europe needs Irish “stubbornness” to support Ukraine and break free from dependence on Russian energy.

It is also abundantly clear how much Ireland needs Europe. Brussels’ support has been invaluable in resisting efforts to push through divisive moves that could undermine the Good Friday Agreement. Having recently faced more challenges than at any time in its history, the EU has maintained a largely united front following Moscow’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

In 1972, the referendum that triggered our accession to the European Economic Community (EEC) resulted in the highest turnout for a referendum in Ireland ever – 70.88 per cent of voters went to the polls.

As Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “Our commitment to the EU transformed the country and the decision to join was one of the most important in the history of the state.”

Ms von der Leyen remarked: “Ireland lies at the heart of Europe.”

It was Jacques Chirac who said: “Building Europe is an art. It’s the art of the possible.” These possibilities remain unlimited provided the bloc continues to work together constructively and creatively. Strong ties with the EU are central to Ireland’s future

Fry Electronics Team

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