The campaign whether to join the EEC or not was described by Neville Keery as an emotional head on clash between the two sides which resulted in fears that the public was being misled.  He continued that the debate had become over simplified and the real-life implications of Ireland joining the EEC were not being properly considered.  

Michael Sweetman described it as a choice between free trade and protectionism.

Throughout 1971 and 1972, Neville Keery, a strong and vital figure in Ireland’s campaign to join the EEC, toured around Ireland professing the value of the EEC. He expressed how ‘success springs largely for attitudes of mind’. Thus, Ireland’s success within the EEC was up to the Irish people and negative short-sighted attitudes towards the EEC should be swiftly pushed aside and 

He argued that entry into the EEC guaranteed Ireland’s progressive development in Western Europe. Michael Sweetman, the director of the ICEM, conveyed that that it was not possible for Ireland to build a self-sufficient industrial economy. Whilst at a discussion group in Birr he remarked that if we refused membership to the EEC we could not expect the EEC to be charitable towards us.  

To appease fears that due to Ireland’s size we would get written off, Ireland became one of the founding members of the Council of Europe. Consequently, Ireland was put in position of influencing parliamentary opinion in the member countries. 

Although there was a compelling campaign to join the EEC, the campaign not to join did garner support. Sinn Féin were publicly against entry as there was a reasonable fear Irish neutrality would be compromised. The campaign against joining the EEC emphasised that there was an overall lack of awareness surrounding the political implications of Ireland joining the EEC, (Click here for the political implications of joining the EEC.) particularly about the Common Market (Click here for Ireland and the Common Market).  

Charles de Gaulle did not hide his hostility towards the United Kingdom joining and Ireland joining without the United Kingdom would have complicated the relationship between the two countries.  

In ‘The Case against the Common Market’ pamphlet argued that joining the Common Market meant giving up control of Irish political and economic future. It would result in the Irish Government relinquishing political independence powers.  

However, on the 13 December 1973 the Irish people overwhelming voted in support of joining the EEC with only 17% voting against joining the EEC. Neville Keery commented that the campaign not to join were not expecting such an immense difference.  

Press Release by Sen. Neville Keery on why Ireland should join the EEC, dated 01/10/1971

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