With waves of Brexit talk lapping across the Irish Sea on a daily basis, thoughts sometimes turn to the classic Monty Python sketch in The Life of Brian.
“What have the Romans ever done for us?” John Cleese asks, trying to start an uprising. “Er, sanitation, aqueducts, roads, public health, medicine…” comes the reply.
Well, for anyone wondering what the EU has done for us here in Ireland, a newly released publication aims to provide some answers.
“What’s The Story? – 25 Stories About Ireland and Europe”, an EU publication launched recently, features a massive social housing development overseen by Dublin City Council and a project developed by Bohemian FC that teaches numeracy through football among its stories.
Other projects featured in the new publication include the battle to save the curlew in Galway, a clean energy initiative on Cape Clear and exporting Irish gin to global markets.
What these projects have in common is they all received EU support or funding, and the story of the EU and Ireland is told through stories that take place in communities all across the country.
European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee, who jointly wrote the publication’s introduction, spoke at its recent launch in Leinster House.
She said: “Since Ireland joined the [now] EU in 1973, we have benefitted hugely from our membership. In that time, we have moved from an isolated island on the fringes of Europe, to a modern island at the heart of the EU.
“The EU is our home and it is one that we have helped to build and will continue to nourish and improve over the next number of decades. [These] stories give practical examples of how we in Ireland continue to benefit from our membership of the EU.
“The EU spans across the entire continent of Europe and allows us to have endless opportunities, to work, live, study and travel in each others’ countries.
“This is something that we must protect, so that this generation and the ones who follow can continue to benefit from [EU membership].”
Gerry Kiely, head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland, said he believes one of the greatest stories to be told today is that of Ireland’s relationship with Europe.
He said: “It’s a tale that has lasted more than four decades, and one that will continue to unfold for many future generations.
“The real story of the EU and Ireland, however, can be found in the stories that unfold quietly and without fuss in the communities, businesses, farms, schools and universities around the country.”
An interactive version of the publication can be downloaded in Irish and English here. Hard copies can be requested from the European Commission Representation in Ireland, Europe House, 12-14 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2, by emailing here.