Stamps of 2023: Ireland (January 2023)

Jan. 5, 2023

Ireland’s Membership in the EU 50th Anniversary

On January 1, 1973, the Republic of Ireland joined the European Communities (EC). These were three international organizations that were governed by the same set of institutions — the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom), and the European Economic Community (EEC). The last of these was renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993 by the Maastricht Treaty establishing the European Union. The European Union was established at that time more as a concept rather than an entity, while the Communities remained the actual subjects of international law impersonating the rather abstract Union, becoming at the same time its first pillar. Ireland had applied for membership in 1961.

According to the An Post press release:

An Post’s first stamp of 2023 marking the 50th anniversary of Ireland joining the European Communities (EC), now the European Union (EU), was unveiled today by the Minister for European Affairs, Mr. Peter Burke TD and the European Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union, Mairead McGuinness.

The stamp design by renowned Irish designer Ger Garland features the flag of what is now known as the European Union (EU). The design is based on the stars of the EU flag and the six fundamental values of the EU: Human Dignity, Freedom, Democracy, Equality, Rule of Law, and Human Rights. To symbolise the number of members of the EC in 1973, only nine of the twelve stars from the EU flag are visible.

Speaking at the launch, Minister Burke said:
“I am delighted today that An Post are marking the historic anniversary of Ireland’s 50 years in Europe with this stamp.

Stamps are a small but tangible part of everyday life and this stamp will serve to remind us all of the many ways the EU has impacted on our own everyday lives – from economic growth, to environmental protection, to gender equality and equal pay legislation, to climate, energy, travel and peace.”

The new National rate stamp together with a special First Day Cover envelope is available at selected post offices including the GPO, and at  An Post has decorated a number of Dublin city centre postboxes in the vicinity of Leinster House, Government Buildings, Iveagh House and Europe House to mark the anniversary for which the Department of Foreign Affairs has devised a broad programme of events during 2023. 

EU50 Programme
The Government’s EU50 programme is marking Ireland’s 50 years of EU membership since our decision to join the EEC in 1972. Government Departments, State Agencies, primary, port-primary and third level education institutions, civil society groups, industry, cultural institutions and our Mission network have all been encouraged to get involved. The link to the EU50 programme, marking Ireland’s 50 years of EU membership, is here – EU50 | Ireland – this is Ireland.

An Post

Ireland’s membership of the European Union began in 1972 when 83% of Irish people voted “yes” to joining the European Communities in a referendum held on 10 May.

The decision by the vast majority of the Irish people to join the European Communities (the European Coal and Steel Community, the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community) in 1973 had an impact on the nation’s development that not even the most optimistic observer of the time could have predicted.

At the time, Ireland was regarded by most of the global community as an almost insignificant island still struggling to find its place in the world more than five decades after gaining independence from the UK. In the years before becoming a member state, political leaders like Seán Lemass and later Jack Lynch, along with senior diplomats and economists, had argued that Ireland’s future lay within Europe.

Europe wasn’t so sure. Ireland’s agriculturally based economy was choked by its dependence on the UK market, and the country suffered from poverty, mass unemployment and emigration. The founding six EEC countries expressed doubts about Ireland’s economic capacity and neutrality. Ireland’s policy of protectionism, which saw restrictions imposed on imports, certainly wasn’t very appealing to a European community with free trade at its heart.

Leading economists in Ireland had been campaigning for a shift in economic policy and by the early 1960s many senior politicians were coming around to the idea that it was the only way to tackle the high unemployment and mass emigration that blighted the country.

Ireland continued to press for EEC membership but hopes were crushed in 1963 when then French President, General Charles de Gaulle, made it clear that France didn’t want Britain to join the community. His stand brought an abrupt end to negotiations with all applicant countries and it was to be another decade before Ireland became a member of the EEC. A second application in 1967 had been blocked again by President de Gaulle but in 1969 his successor, George Pompidou, promised not to stand in the way of British and Irish membership.

Fresh negotiations began and on January 22, 1972, the Treaty of Accession was signed at Egmont Palace in Brussels. A referendum held in May 1972 confirmed Ireland’s entry into the European community with 83 per cent of voters supporting membership. Ireland’s membership in the European Economic Community (EEC) which was to evolve into the European Union, officially began on January 1, 1973.

An Post’s shop page for the 50th anniversary stamp describes it as follows:

Designed by Ger Garland, this features stars that relate to the gold stars on the European flag. Instead of the current flag’s 12 stars, nine are shown, symbolising the number of member states in 1973.

The stamp also lists six key values that are an integral part of the European way of life, to which all member states subscribe. These are Human Dignity, Freedom, Democracy, Equality, Rule of Law and Human Rights.

Be sure to watch out for this stamp issue, the first of our offerings for 2023, which commemorates a key moment in modern Irish economic, social and cultural life.

Membership has brought huge benefits to Ireland, in terms of access to European markets, increased job creation, investment in agriculture and social policy advances. Irish citizens gained a right to work in other EC states while European investment in cross border initiatives has helped achieve peace in Northern Ireland.

An Post

Technical Specification
Design: Ger Garland
Value and Quantity: N (122k)
Size: 34.89mm x 34.89mm
Paper: TR 102gsm PVA gum
Colour: Multicolour plus reflex blue with phosphor tagging
Make-up: Sheetlet of 16
Perforation: 13.75 x 13.75
Printing Process: Lithography
Printer: Royal Joh. Enschedé

One thought on “Stamps of 2023: Ireland (January 2023)

  1. Pingback: Stamps of 2023: Monthly Wrap-Up (January) | Mark Joseph Jochim

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