posted on 2006-09-04, 11:27authored byMaurice Fitzgerald
This book traces the evolution of Irish foreign affairs after the Second World War, specifically focusing on the late 1950s / early 1960s as a small, peripheral European power laid the foundations for its transformation into the 'Celtic tiger'. It argues that the relative importance of political considerations and economic motivations in Irish policy-making changed, that there was a transition from economic protectionism to trade liberalisation once Ireland saw Europe as its escape route from reliance upon the United Kingdom. Essentially, this book is the first in-depth and independent attempt to explain why Ireland applied to join the EEC in 1961, why that first application failed, and what it did about that situation, utilising sources that have not yet been made widely available. Its conclusions are simple, but controversial. This book demonstrates how Ireland changed from a protected and dependent economy into an open and interdependent one.
However, it not only provides a critique of this process - its origins, progress and results - but challenges assumptions about the benefits of
this outcome and the choices made in arriving there. It shows that Dublin utilised the mechanics of its economic relations with London in order to enshrine economic liberalisation, controversially and paradoxically doing so by becoming more dependent on the UK through the 1965 Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement, going one step backwards in order to go two steps forward. The analysis of events that were subsequently ignored but which were to form the background to Ireland joining the EEC in 1973, a development that has since come to symbolise and be part of the country's identity, are a central focus of this work.