Ireland’s 1961 application to join EEC fraught with fear of rejection

In reversal of Brexit scenario, State concern was Irish exclusion but UK acceptance in EEC

Seán Lemass and Éamon de Valera: There were serious doubts whether Ireland would be judged economically fit for EEC membership.   Photograph: Paddy Whelan

Seán Lemass and Éamon de Valera: There were serious doubts whether Ireland would be judged economically fit for EEC membership. Photograph: Paddy Whelan

Official documents detailing Ireland’s application to join the European Economic Community (EEC) almost 60 years ago reveal striking parallels with the current Brexit negotiations. The only difference is that positions were reversed.

Irish officials were deeply worried that the UK would be admitted and the State excluded. There are references to the possibility of a border down the Irish Sea, the status of Northern Ireland, the difficulty of securing new trade agreements and the fact that the British cared little about the problems of Ireland, North or South.

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