Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs & Trade Brendan Smith TD says Ireland’s membership of Europe should be celebrated. Today is Europe Day, which is the European Union’s annual celebration of peace and unity in Europe.
Deputy Smith explained, “I think it is important to celebrate Europe Day and to remember the many benefits that membership of the European Union has brought us. In 1973 Ireland joined what was then known as the European Economic Community. Since then, we have undergone a dramatic transformation, in many parts thanks to membership of the European Union.
“Structural funds have vastly improved our infrastructure, the single market opened up new countries in which to trade, study, travel and to work; and we have benefited greatly from our position within Europe as an attractive location for Foreign Direct Investment.
“The EU has been at the helm of innovative and transformative policies that have enhanced social, cultural and legal rights in Ireland, introducing measures such as equal pay for equal work and promoting the rights of people with disabilities.
“However, as we are all aware Europe and the European Union is not without its challenges. The recent arrival of more than one million refugees in Europe has posed challenges for Europe and it has caused tension between and within countries. However, it is imperative that this appalling situation is not used as an opportunity to divide rather than unite. Social cohesion and unity are required.
“Britain’s upcoming referendum on EU membership is also a cause of grave concern. Despite the challenges, I and the Fianna Fáil party remain steadfast in our commitment to the European Union and its founding principles, and while it is a matter for Britain alone to decide its fate on this issue, we are of the opinion that a British exit from the European Union is not in the best interests of the Union and certainly not in the best interests of the island of Ireland.
“The European Union has changed fundamentally since its inception. It is now comprises of 28 countries, but the founding principles that underlie it, while sometimes challenged, remain the same; freedom; peace; democracy and solidarity. Fianna Fáil is proud of the role that it has played in the European Union, and will continue to be a strong supporter of the Union and an advocate for European values and ideals”.