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Published on Feb 10, 2018
With all the talk about Irexit lately, here's a look back at the 1972 referendum that brought Ireland into what was then the EEC and now the European Union.
The referendum took place on the 10th May 1972.
Ireland's entry into the EEC was supported by the Fianna Fáil government of Jack Lynch and was also supported by Fine Gael, the main opposition party, and by employers' and farmers' interest groups. However it was opposed by the Labour Party, Sinn Féin and Official Sinn Féin and the trade unions. The voting went 1,041,890 (83.1%) in favour and 211,891 (16.9%) against.
President Eamon de Valera opposed the state's entry and voted no, citing the loss of sovereignty.
Membership of the European Communities granted powers to European institutions which the 1937 constitution had vested exclusively in the Oireachtas (parliament) and the Government. It was also possible that many provisions of the constitution might be found to be incompatible with European law. For these reasons the Third Amendment(Article that permitted Ireland to join the EEC) introduced a provision expressly permitting the state to join the Communities and stating in broad terms that European law has supremacy over the constitution.
The EU today of course is a much different beast to what the Irish people voted to join in 1972, with the EU moving in an increasingly federal direction. One wonders if the Irish people could have seen back then what the EU has become today would there have been such a large majority in favour of entry?