A travelling European Commission exhibition, to showcase the many ways that EU membership has benefited Ireland over the past 45 years, will be visiting towns across the country over the coming months.

A number of the stories featured in the exhibition have benefited from European Regional Development Funding through the Border, Midland & Western (BMW) Regional Operational Programme.

The launch of the exhibition featured pop-up displays of content from the ‘45 Stories’ booklet and speeches from the Leas-Chathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, Senator Paul Coghlan; Head of European Commission Representation in Ireland, Gerry Kiely; while European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee. Citizens who featured in many of the ‘45 Stories’ also attended.

“Since Ireland joined the then-EEC in 1973, our people have developed a deep appreciation of what it means to be a European and a true partner to our fellow EU Member States,” noted Senator Coghlan.

Senator Paul Coghlan, Leas-Chathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann; European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee, and Gerry Kiely, Head of European Commission Representation in Ireland, at the launch in Leinster House.

“This exhibition and accompanying booklet contain rich personal stories of the real ways that European cooperation opens the door to economic opportunity and cultural enrichment, both for Irish people and for our fellow Europeans wishing to strengthen ties with Ireland,” he added.

Gerry Kiely said visitors to the travelling exhibition and readers of the booklet would not help but be impressed by the sweep and scale of EU involvement in driving positive change for Ireland. “EU laws and initiatives have, among others, protected our environment, created great opportunities to study and trade abroad, financed vital infrastructure in Ireland, and helped prevent discrimination,” he added.

Members of the Oireacthas had an opportunity to discuss the stories further with individuals featured and representatives from the public bodies involved in selecting and funding a number of the stories, including the Northern and Western Regional Assembly.

Following the public display at the European Commission office on Dublin’s Lower Mount Street during October, the exhibition visited Clones in November and Cork in December, before heading to Ballinasloe in January, Blanchardstown in February, Sligo in March, Letterkenny in April, Nenagh in May and Waterford in June.