‘Vital we appreciate what EU membership has done for Ireland’ Minister Joe O’Brien

13th May, 2022

Joe O’Brien, Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development and TD for Dublin Fingal was accompanied by the Cypriot Ambassador Charis Christodoulidou on visits to schools in Skerries and Rush on Friday to mark EU50 – a programme to recognise Europe Day and the 50 Year anniversary of Ireland voting to join what was then known as the EEC.

The Schools; Holmpatrick National School in Skerries and St. Joseph’s Secondary School in Rush are both participants on European Education Programmes. Holmpatrick National School participates in The European Blue Star Programme which teaches primary school pupils about European cultures and the EU through creative activities and projects complementing the national primary curriculum while St Joseph’s participates in the European Parliament Ambassador School (EPAS) Programme, a network of secondary and vocational schools across the European Union raising awareness of European parliamentary democracy and European citizenship values.

Minister O’Brien thanked the schools and their principals and teachers – for their efforts in encouraging an interest in, and knowledge of, the EU in their schools.

Speaking at the visits Minister O’Brien said:

“I am delighted to be here today with Ambassador Charis Christodoulidou from Cyprus to celebrate Europe Day – a day each year when Europe commemorates the signing of the ‘Schuman Declaration’ in May 1950. The Schuman Plan was an ambitious plan to secure long-term peace in post-war Europe – and is considered the beginning of what is today’s European Union. This Europe day in important as it coincides with an important anniversary for Ireland – 50 years since Ireland voted to join the then European Economic Community, today’s European Union.”

“While it is by no means perfect, it is important to recognise the benefits of membership over the last 50 years and how transformative it has been for Ireland. We can look to the massive investments from EU level which have helped us to develop and modernise our infrastructure, the Erasmus programme which has opened up opportunities for our students, EU environmental law having a significantly positive impact on our own climate efforts, and of course most recently the significant benefits of the Covid travel pass and the bulk purchasing of vaccines. We must also recognise the continued support and solidarity from fellow Member States over recent years on Brexit.”

“With the current illegal and immoral conflict on the continent of Europe, and in the face of the external threats and escalating rhetoric we are confronting, it is more important than ever, that the Union is united and internally strong.  It is important for Ireland to be a strong member of the European Union and to use its voice within that union to help ensure fairness, equality, and human rights based approaches are to the forefront in international affairs. For a small country we punch above our weight on the international stage and have used, and continue to use, our voice within the union and work collaboratively with our European neighbours.”