On the 1st of January 1973 Ireland joined the EU. A referendum held in May 1972 determined Irelands entry into the EU. It was very much supported with 83 per cent of members voting to become apart of the European Union. Before Ireland joined the EU, it was regarded as an almost insignificant island, struggling to find its place even though it had been five decades after gaining independence from the UK. Before Ireland joined the EU political leaders such as Sean Lemass along with Jack Lynch and other economists argued that Irelands future was being part of the European Union. The only issue was that Europe wasn’t so sure. At the time Ireland economy wasn’t the best with the country suffering from poverty, mass unemployment and emigration. At the time Ireland had policies and restrictions imposed on imports and this wasn’t very appealing to the European communities especially as it was known for its free trade. When it came to the ’60s many politicians had come to the conclusion that Ireland joining the EU was the only way to tackle important issues such as high unemployment and mass emigration. There are many benefits of EU membership to Ireland. Here are some; • Irish businesses have the access to a market of over 510 million people. • A higher employment rate, thousands of jobs have been created in Ireland over the years. • Trade has increased. • Foreign investments into Ireland have increased greatly going from millions to billions. • Between 1973 and 2015 Ireland received over 74 billion from the EU. • Ireland receive money from the EU and Irish farmers alone received 54 billion from the common agricultural policy. • The Irish language is an official language in the EU this helps to protect the country’s native language for future generations. • EU membership has helped bring peace as well as political agreement in Northern Ireland through support and investment. • Ireland can work together with other member states to help tackle important issues such as climate change. • Since joining the EU, Ireland has had to act on water pollution, air quality and water disposal among others. • Irish citizens can travel to any EU member state and they can also stay however long they like without the need for a visa. • EU funding has also helped improve the standard of education in Ireland. • Ireland can take action with other member states to tackle environmental issues that are important, such as climate change. • There are now more Irish laws on recycle/ air pollution that have had a massive positive effect on our environment. • Irish citizens can now travel anywhere in any member state and can stay however long they like without having a visa. • Water treatment plants, rail lines, bus services and the luas have all benefited with the help from the EU and the funding given. • The European Arrest warrant means that Irish criminals can no longer escape justice by moving to another EU member state. Overall the EU, has had a massive effect on Ireland and its economy, many new jobs were created. Less people were unemployed and many things such as roads and communication technology were also improved massively because of the funding from the EU. During 1990 Ireland had become a much wealthier country and people even started coming to Ireland to look for employment. Ireland had entered various American technology companies set up in the Republic of Ireland which was a great positive as it created many more new job opportunities for people. The European Union is also the driving force behind incredibly important pieces of Irish legislation that are changing those gaps and covering important issues such as protection of pregnant workers, equal treatment when applying for a job as well as equal treatment at work among many others. The EU have prioritized issues such as gender equality among both sexes as well as equal pay for work and equal economic independence for both females and males. This is because men still dominate the workplace and still hold the most power and are in charge of most decision making in businesses and politics whilst women are still struggling when it comes to equal income and opportunities. Progress is continuing and the European Commission have a plan known as ‘strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019’ which aims to prioritize equal pay for both sexes as well as gender equality among others.