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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 23 Apr 1969

Vol. 239 No. 13

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Membership of EEC.


asked the Taoiseach if he will inform the House of the present position regarding Ireland's application for admission to the EEC; and if he can give a reliable date for the entry of the country into full membership of the EEC.

The present position is that Ireland's application for membership of the European Economic Community, as well as those of the other applicants, continues to remain on the Agenda of the EEC Council but, as Deputies are no doubt aware, there is still disagreement among the member countries on the question of the opening of negotiations. As I indicated in reply to a question on the 12th March, the date of Ireland's accession to the EEC will depend in the first instance on how soon the member governments can agree among themselves on the opening of negotiations with the applicant countries.

Will the Taoiseach not agree that our industrial policy as regards tariffs has been planned and geared on the assumption that we would be in the EEC by 1970, or at the latest by 1972, and in view of the fact that the reduction of tariffs and the importation of industrial goods from Britain and other countries are doing untold harm to our economy, does the Taoiseach not think the time has come for a review of this whole policy?

Our industrial policy has been planned in relation to the worldwide trend towards freer trade and, unless we can gear our industries to reach a competitive stage and not be dependent on tariffs and other forms of protection, our industrialisation programme will not go ahead.

Was not the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement signed between this country and Great Britain on the assumption that we would be in the EEC by 1970?

It was thought then that we would be.

Is there not, therefore, reason for a revision of the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement?

The Agreement has been kept under continuous review and there are meetings pending between members of our Government and members of the Government of the United Kingdom.

Is there not urgency about this matter?

The urgency is well known to us if there is.

1970 is only one year away.

Will the Taoiseach state what part membership of the EEC will play in Fianna Fáil's election policy, bearing in mind that it served them well in the 1961 and 1965 elections——

That is a separate question.

——when, according to the former Taoiseach, Deputy Lemass, membership of the EEC was just around the corner? Is the Taoiseach joking the people about membership of the EEC? It was the main plank in 1961 and in 1965, and I assume it will be again in 1969, 1970 or whenever the forthcoming election will be held.