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Audio
Branwen Jeffreys reports from Ireland as scepticism surfaces
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Audio
Ruari Quinn leader Labour Party speaking to Branwen Jeffreys
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Thursday, 7 December, 2000, 15:24 GMT
Irish doubts on Europe grow
Dublin city centre
Dublin has enjoyed a booming economy in recent years
By the World at One's Branwen Jeffreys

Everywhere you go in Ireland the effects of the booming economy are evident. The streets are full of shoppers and the noises of construction work.

Yet against this economic optimism some politicians have been sounding a note of caution about Europe.

Ireland is on the brink of change. For many years a beneficiary of European money it will soon become a net contributor, and as the EU becomes larger it will become one of a number of smaller countries.

Ministers voice doubts

In recent months two government ministers have called for a more critical debate on Europe.

Sila de Valera, Minister for Arts, has argued that diversity is in danger of being forgotten in the push for further European integration.


I don't think a united states of Europe would be appropriate

Sila de Valera

In opinion polls support for the EU has always been high in Ireland.

But some commentators believe the minister is picking up on the beginnings of a more questioning attitude.

Broad but shallow

There's no evidence of a deep, informed support for the EU says Professor Richard Sinnott at University College Dublin. While there's a broad perception that Ireland has benefite, he says that could change if challenged.



Economic growth is bringing rapid social change and that may mean an uncomfortable transition for Ireland.

A nation of emigrants is having to come to terms with migrant labour. Ruari Quinn, leader of the opposition Labour Party says politicians have been too reluctant to tackle the more controversial aspects of change.


We haven't laid out a model of what Europe will look like when it's finished

Ruari Quinn

Not scepticism

It's not a scepticism in the sense of British euro scepticism, he tells me, but simply an unease.

A frontier that stretches from Finland to the Algarve policed by people you don't know begins to raise questions says Mr Quinn.

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Ireland: Europe doubt
Poland: waiting game
France: bridging gap
Hungary: new border
Holland: tiny is great
Brussels: poker game


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