Reconciling a policy of neutrality with the prospect of integration : Ireland, the European economic community, and Ireland's United Nations policy, 1965-1972

Spelman, Greg Thomas (2003) Reconciling a policy of neutrality with the prospect of integration : Ireland, the European economic community, and Ireland's United Nations policy, 1965-1972. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The decade of the 1960s was a period of significant evolution in the foreign policy priorities of the Republic of Ireland. On 31 July 1961, Ireland applied for membership of the European Community. That application was vetoed in January 1963 by the French President, Charles de Gaulle. Nevertheless, it was an indication of the growing "Europeanisation" of Irish foreign policy, which was secured in May 1967 in a renewed and ultimately successful application by Ireland for membership of the Common Market. Because of the overlapping interests of the European Community and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), however, these initiatives towards integration with Western Europe posed a dilemma for the decision-makers in Dublin given that, in the Irish context, foreign policy was predicated on neutrality. Since Ireland's admission to the United Nations (UN) in 1955 and especially from the reinstatement of Frank Aiken as Minister for External Affairs in 1957, the diplomatic component of Ireland's neutrality was defined largely by its UN policy. Ireland's continued attachment to neutrality, despite its application for European Community membership, caused significant frustration to the governments of the member-states, especially France under de Gaulle, and was seen to be an obstacle to Ireland's accession. These concerns were communicated explicitly to Dublin, along with the view that Ireland needed to demonstrate a greater propensity to support Western interests on major international issues. Pressure of this kind had dissuaded other European neutrals (Austria, Finland, Malta and Sweden) from pursuing membership of the European Community until 1995 - after the Cold War had ended - but it did not deter the Irish. Despite the pressure from the European Community, Irish policy continued to be characterised by neutrality and, almost invariably, conflict with French UN policy. This included, amongst other matters, policy in relation to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the financing of peacekeeping, the Vietnam War, representation of China at the UN, and various decolonization problems in Southern Africa. This insulation of Ireland's foreign policy from the imperatives of the application for membership of the European Community was largely the product of the fragmentation of decision-making in the formulation of Irish diplomacy. This research project takes a unique perspective on the topic by focusing, in particular, on the period 1965 to 1972 and, also, breaks further new ground in utilizing documentary material only recently released by the National Archives in Dublin, the University College Dublin Archives, the Public Record Office, London, and the UN Archives in New York, along with published diplomatic records and secondary sources. Consequently, it offers an original contribution to our understanding of Irish foreign policy in this crucial period of its development and the capacity of the Irish Government to reconcile the two fundamental and apparently conflicting pillars of its foreign policy - neutrality and membership of the European Community.

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ID Code: 15787
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Ainsworth, John & Manathunga, Catherine
Keywords: Ireland, European Community, United Nations, Neutrality, Integration, Diplomatic History, International Relations, Foreign Policy, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation, Cold War, Decolonisation
Department: QUT Carseldine
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Greg Thomas Spelman
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:49
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:38

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