This chapter examines the possible future relationship of Ireland and the EU. For a long time, Ireland was seen as a pro-European country, one that had benefited from many EU policies and programmes. The analyses in this volume suggest that there is now a more questioning dimension to the relationship, but at the same time the broad outlook remains pro-European. In particular, Brexit has served to underline Ireland’s commitment to, if not dependency on, the EU. However, there are several potential problems which could disrupt that commitment. Brexit has changed relations between the Republic and Northern Ireland, and between Ireland and Britain, in ways that are still far from known. The EU is also still changing, with emerging calls for deeper integration in some quarters. While Ireland is generally supportive of further integration, developments in areas such as defence cooperation and tax harmonisation would cause problems. Finally, the global situation is constantly evolving, and issues such as climate change, health security and deglobalisation could have a major impact on future Irish–EU relations.
Ireland and the European Union: economic, political and social crises is essential reading for those interested in understanding Ireland’s relationship with the EU from the 2008 financial crisis to the 2016 Brexit crisis and beyond. The book comprehensively examines policy areas such as security, migration and taxation as well as protest politics, political parties, the media, public opinion and the economic impact of each of these crises has had on Ireland. The book is also the first to provide a wide-ranging analysis on British–Irish relations in the context of Brexit, assessing in particular the Withdrawal Agreement and Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, the devolution settlement and the 1998 Agreement as well as the European dimension to Northern Ireland’s peace process.
This chapter examines migration policy, looking first at Ireland’s historical position as a country of emigration and then examining how the EU’s approach to issues of migration and asylum has developed. It then explores in detail the EU’s migration crisis and Ireland’s contribution to the response, noting that Ireland has tended to associate itself with the more progressive group of member states in the EU on this issue.
This chapter looks at Irish political parties and their policies on Europe. It notes that there has generally been a strong pro-EU consensus among Irish parties, but that there is also a strand of Euroscepticism, particularly evident during European referendums. The chapter argues that the financial crisis saw a strengthening of Eurosceptic stances, though noticeably on the left of the political spectrum and not on the right. However, the subsequent Brexit crisis actually led to a strengthening of the pro-EU consensus, albeit with a more critical and nationalist tone.
Brexit and constitutional politics in Great Britain and Ireland
This chapter analyses the specific constitutional issues that arise for Ireland and the UK after Brexit. It argues that Brexit created a crisis for the UK’s improvised constitution, to the extent even of casting doubt on the continuing integrity of the UK, with renewed calls for independence in Scotland and for Irish unity. This in turn created a significant constitutional challenge for Ireland. While Ireland did not create the crisis, it was faced with its consequences.
This chapter examines the evolution in Irish public opinion about the EU. It notes an apparent contradiction in that Ireland always registers among the most pro-EU countries in general opinion surveys, despite the fact that it has on several occasions voted against EU treaties. It explores how Irish public opinion developed during the financial crash and the Brexit crisis, and highlights how there was no discernible Irexit effect. Instead, although the Irish public continues to show levels of knowledge of the EU that are lower than the EU average, nonetheless their overall attitudes remain positive, and this was strengthened after Brexit.
News media framing of Irish political interventions in the UK’s EU referendum
This chapter examines how the Irish media shapes attitudes and understanding about the EU. This starts with an examination of whether the media could or should have a role in creating a European public sphere. The chapter then analyses how the media in the Republic of Ireland reported the Brexit referendum. It argues that their reporting was marked by a strongly Irish-focused perspective and that a wider sense of Europe and Europeanness did not emerge.
This chapter argues that “Brexit has unsettled Northern Ireland”, both in economic terms and in terms of its delicate political/constitutional balance. It looks at the stances of the different parties on the EU and on Brexit and analyses in particular the border issue in the light of Brexit. The chapter also goes into depth on the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, a key agreement between the EU and the UK intended to avoid a hard border, preserve the integrity of the EU single market and maintain Northern Ireland’s place as a UK customs territory.
This chapter examines public protest movements, which included protests against water charges and other taxes, wider protests against austerity, and developing into protests on social issues such as marriage equality and abortion. The chapter argues that while the protests undoubtedly helped create sharpened criticism of the EU, they also led to a more nuanced public understanding of the EU – critical of austerity but more appreciative of other social dimensions of the EU. In addition, the protests increasingly held domestic political elites to task for their actions at European level.
This chapter explores the impact of debates about control of taxation policy on the Irish–EU relationship. This is a debate which touches strongly on issues of economic nationalism, and again it particularly reflects Ireland’s reputation as the ‘state that is perhaps more closely allied than any other democracy with the interests of global transnational corporations’ (Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times, 30 August 2016). The chapter includes consideration of the controversial Apple case which brought the Irish government into conflict with the European Commission.