Sixty years ago this week 100 people gathered in Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel to establish the Irish Council of the European Movement.
As the oldest organisation dealing with European affairs in Ireland over the course of the past 60 years the mission and vision of European Movement Ireland has developed and evolved.
Its original objective of advocating for Irish membership of the European Economic Communities (EEC), as the EU was then known, has shifted since 1973 to encompass and reflect the changing priorities of Ireland’s relationship with the EU.
In recent years, as this country has experienced seismic economic shifts, European matters have come to the forefront of the Irish national media and the forefront of the minds of the citizens living and working here.
In light of this, European Movement Ireland has adapted its workload and communications in order to recognise the increased public knowledge and awareness of European matters, and the accompanying shift in attitudes.
The organisation is no longer focused on ‘making the connection between Irish people and the EU every day and not just on referendum day’ as was once its goal.
Now, as Irish people now are more engaged with the EU than ever before and are eager to have their voices heard, European Movement Ireland’s aim is to provide an independent, reasoned non-governmental voice on European issues and, above all, to ensure that European issues are discussed in Ireland in a reasoned, robust and fair manner.
According to chairman, Maurice Pratt, the organisation has “a tendency to describe every year as a very important year in Irish-EU relations”.
“That is because, as far as we are concerned, every year is an important year in Irish-EU relations. From the Lisbon Treaty Referenda of 2008 and 2009, the bailout in 2010, the Fiscal Stability Treaty Referendum of 2012, the European Year of Citizens 2013, Ireland’s turn as president of the council of the EU for the first six months of 2013 and our exit from the bailout programme only weeks ago in December, to the European Parliament elections coming down the tracks in May of this year; the European Union is woven into the fabric of Irish society,” he said.
“What happens in Europe has a knock-on effect in Ireland – the EU’s successes are our successes, its challenges are our challenges and, regardless of the difficulties we both may face, our futures are inextricably linked.”