Page 5, 28th January 1966

28th January 1966
Page 5
Page 5, 28th January 1966 — TWO PREMIERS ON THE NEW IRELAND

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People: Lemass
Locations: Dublin, Belfast


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Q4, What, from your point of view, is the significance of • the Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement in terms of trade between Ireland and England?

We see the new Trade Agreement with

s Britain as part of our preparation for 4 membership of the European Economic Community. We are basing our national development policy on the assumption that both Britain and Ireland will be in the Community by 1970. While an immediate and substantial expansion of our exports to Britain is important to maintain our rate of economic growth and reduce our balance of payments deficit in the interim, the most important long-term aspect of the Agreement lies in the assistance it will give us in the fulfilment of our preparations for E.E.C. membership. The elimination of import barriers to Irish exports to Britain, on July 1, 1966, will create new opportunities for trade, and it is expected that Irish producers, both agricultural and industrial, arc now setting about organising and preparing themselves to exploit these opportunities. I think that a sizeable increase of exports can confidently be expected. On the other hand, the effect of the Agreement, on Irish imports from Britain, is not likely to be considerable in this year, or indeed for some years to come, having regard to the rhythm of tariff reductions for which the Agreement provides.

As far as we in Northern Ireland are concerned, I do not see how the Agreement can affect our trade with England or with Great Britain in any major respect. You must

abr. appreciate that we have never ceased to be a part of the United Kingdom. and that therefore there has never been any tariff or other harrier in the way of our trade with Great Britain. Great Britain is. of course, far and away our most important market, and our economy is wholly integrated with that of other parts of the United Kingdom. The only way in which the Anglo-Iris-It Trade Agreement could affect our trade with Great Britain would be if imports from the Republic were to displace imports from Northern Ireland.

I have no fears that this will happen to any marked extent, because our industries are thoroughly efficient and competitive.

n • What concrete effects will it have, not only immediately 1st • but in the foreseeable future, on trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic?

An expansion of cross-border trade is certain to take place, and probably producers in the Six Counties stand to gain more than those in the Twenty-six Counties, because most of the present barriers to trade are on our side.

'I he Agreement envisages the possibility of a different rhythm of reduction of our tariffs as they apply to Six-County products. We are now considering what it is feasible and desirable to attempt in this regard. This is, of course, solely a matter for our own decision but it will be useful to us to have discussions with commercial interests in Northern Ireland.

At present there is a considerable imbalance of trade in the Republic's favour. This is largely due to the high tariff harrier on the southern side: as you will know goods produced in the Republic have for the most part been entering the United Kingdom (including of course Northern Ireland) duty-free.

As the Republic's barriers come down: we would hope to increase our exports' of manufactured products to her quite substantially. This process will, however, take time.

The tariff reductions are to be phased over a ten-year period, and it will be some years before a truly competitive situation is created. Once that time arrives, however, we certainly expect to do well and to see the balance of trade move in a more favourable direction. •

n, What have been the measurable results of the new NZ • climate of opinion following the exchange of visits between Belfast and Dublin by Ministers and by various officials of different ranks?

The work of examining the scope for practical co-operation is going on, and the results which have emerged so far are merely the first fruits of it. I do not think that there is anything to be gained by trying to measure results at any particular point of time. The important thing is that the principle of co-operation is now established and that the possibilities of extending it are being actively examined.

Well, I think the "climate of opinion" is important in itself. It would not he too much to say that many people in the Republic have "discovered" Northern Ireland in a new way over the last year.

1 have the impression, for example, that a responsible newspaper like the Irish Times now gives much more comprehensive coverage to our Parliamentary and other affairs. I hope and believe that some of the old myths about Northern Ireland being "occupied territory" are being exploded, and that our views—while by no means shared— are at least more clearly understood. These are healthy developments. More than anything else, I wished by my meetings with Mr. Lemass to "normalise" relations.

n. Do you anticipate that these contacts will be developed Y• in the future, and that they will produce fruit in terms of tangible co-operation on matters of common interest? Which fields, apart from Tourism, which is an obvious one, do you see as most promising—and why? .115, These contacts will certainly be developed

and, so far as we are concerned, there are no limits to their extension. They cover virtually all Governmental activities. It is our expectation that as the habit of cooperation grows various new possibilities will present themselves that may not be obvious now.


7 common interest will now be regarded as

I hope that further contacts on matters of perfectly routine. I should, however. strike this cautionary note. As I said in reply to an earlier question, our economy is integrated with that of Great Britain, and this is equally true of most of our services and institutions.

Our paramount interest is in this relationship. from which ever since 1920 we have derived immense economic and other benefits. In some fields, such as the promotion of industrial development, we are competitors with the Republic. We could not hope to derive from any association with them even a fraction of the advantages which accrue from our contacts with the Board of Trade and other British departments.

There are. however, other fields where we can clearly co-operate with the Republic, to our mutual advantage and without prejudice to our ties with., Great Britain. A wide range of matters have already been discussed, and the first fruits can he seen in an agreement by the British Travel AsSociation, Northern Ireland Tourist Board and fjord Faille to co-operate in tourist promotion overseas, particularly in North America. Electricity is another promising field, currently being examined by a joint committee of experts.

n, Do you feel that there is a danger of lip-service being IsE • paid to the "new" Ireland by people who are unwilling to face the realities of the 20th century?

I am not sure what is meant by the question. I think that generally speaking the Irish people are as fully conscious of the realities of our times as any other people, and are as fully committed to the need for change and adaptation to meet the circumstances of future years as now foreseen.

Indeed, I would say that, in this regard, we are not behind any other country, and the prevailing mood is one in which the inevitability of change is accepted and of expectation that, by our own efforts, the future can be made to yield significant economic and social advantages.

I can speak, of course, only for Northern Ireland. Whether people are willing to face realities or not, realities are going to lace them.

I have often said that in today's world we must he ready to respond to the changes which are taking place, whether we like them or not. These are 1101 always comfortable times to live in. Our environment is changing, and so are our social and economic patterns.

A large part of the problems of any government today is the problem of communication. How do we convince the man in the street that he should support radical measures which we feel to be necessary, or even inevitable? In the Northern Ireland general election of November last. I tried to talk in terms of present-day realities. 1 was encouraged by the response.

In the 50 years since 1916, which of the factors which NZ • have gone to make up the modern Ireland would you single out for praise—or blame?

In the past 50 years, we have developed as a vigorous forward-looking, self-respecting community, with growing experience in the management of our affairs, and confidence born of understanding of our potentialities. This is the most important change because it accounts for everything else.

The slave spirit which afflicted so many people in Ireland, after centuries of foreign rule, has at long last virtually disappeared even if some residue of it is still to be found. Fifty years ago it was commonplace to assert that the Irish people were incapable of self-government because of some presumed weakness of the national character, lack of experience in administration, or the smallness of the size and resources of the country. Nowadays the voice of Ireland is heard with respect in international councils, and our political stability and economic achievements are presented as an encouragement to newly-freed nations.

We have proved our capacity to run our affairs properly, and are now completing the work of making the nation as viable economically as it has been shown to be politically.

When I think of 1916,1 think first of the Battle of the Soinine. in which the Ulster Division sustained such appalling losses. In July 1 will be travelling to Northern France to remember these men. I realise that for others in this island 1916 will have a dif ferent significance. That difference is symbolic of the widely divergent courses which we have taken.

For us in Northern Ireland our principal satisfaction must, I think, be the extent and the speed of progress since 1945. Pre-war. with massive unemployment and a tight financial situation, comparatively little could be done to improve Standards of life.

In the last two decades, however, they have been transformed. There is, of course, still much to be done here and— I have no doubt—in the Republic also. I hope that in the next 50 years we will sized some of our pre-occupation with the past, and with sterile controversies.

Above all, I hope that those forces in Ireland which have habitually used violence as a political weapon will wither away from lack of support. The shadow of the gunman must never again fall upon decent people, who seek only a better life. for themselves and their children.

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