Northern Ireland

Split Over ‘European Union’ - On This Day in 1974

Britain unhappy with suggestion of closer political union between Common Market members

James Callaghan was British Home Secretary during the Battle of the Bogside. Picture by Michael Stephens, Press Association
James Callaghan was British foreign secretary in 1974
June 11 1974

The Common Market today gave the go-ahead in Bonn for its dialogue with the Arab states after overcoming American reservations and initial British reticence.

Foreign ministers of the “Nine” also defused the vexed question of consultations between the Community and the US.

But the ministers, on the first day of a two-day session on EEC foreign policy co-ordination, failed to even out differences between Britain and her eight partners on the draft text of a declaration of Atlantic principles due to be adopted by Nato foreign ministers in Ottawa next week.

The Nato text was not discussed during the formal session, but the ministers held a secret meeting this evening to try to narrow differences, informed sources said.

This was unsuccessful.

The main point at issue is a reference in the Nato document to “European Union”.

British Foreign Secretary Mr James Callaghan said this phrase was too closely associated with the EEC’s declared goal of political union by 1980 and as such unacceptable to the new Labour government.

Efforts to find an acceptable alternative failed, but discussions will continue both in the Nato council and among the Nine’s political directors to find a compromise.

An early example of the UK going it alone in Europe, in this instance, to the use of wording that suggested closer union and integration within the EEC.
A memorial statue of a UDR 'Greenfinch' and a male regiment member was erected in Lisburn in 2011
A memorial statue of a UDR 'Greenfinch' and a male regiment member was erected in Lisburn in 2011
SDLP Man Calls for Axing of UDR

Mr Hugh Logue, SDLP Assemblyman for Derry, said yesterday that the Ulster Defence Regiment should be disbanded. He claimed that since the loyalist strike, the regiment had become increasingly sectarian in its actions.

Mr Logue is to press his case with the Secretary of State, Mr Merlyn Rees, and yesterday he and two other SDLP members met three Labour MPs in Derry to argue, among other matters, for the axing of the force.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Logue said he had no doubt that had the UDR been asked to move into the power stations or to transport petrol during the loyalist strike they would have mutinied.

Formed four years earlier in 1970 following the disbandment of the Ulster Specials, the UDR, which was aligned to the British Army, was accused by Logue and others of siding with loyalists during the Ulster Workers’ Council strike in May 1974.