The Big Picture

Vincent Boland: Fifty years on from joining the EEC, we have many reasons to celebrate

In 1973, Ireland was a dismal place with a declining population and poor life expectancy; in the 50 years since as Europeans, we have become richer, healthier, we live longer and are better educated

Jack Lynch, the former taoiseach (right), signs the accession treaty for Ireland to join the European Economic Community (EEC) in Brussels in January 1972: becoming part of mainstream Europe was the best thing this country ever did. Picture: Getty

Fifty years ago, at a second past midnight on January 1, 1973, Ireland took the most decisive step in its republican history. The moment arrived after years of full-throated debate, a couple of false starts, and a resounding expression of the people’s will that was matched in later years only by the affirmation of the Good Friday Agreement.

The moment was when, half a century ago, we joined the European Economic Community, the step that ...