Crotty, Raymond Dominick (1925–94), economist, radical, author, and opponent of European integration, was born 22 January 1925 at Parliament St., Kilkenny, one of four sons and five daughters of Raymond Crotty, baker and shopkeeper of Kilkenny, and Elizabeth Crotty (née Keoghan). His mother died in 1939 and his father married (1939) May Grace of Dublin. He lived his early years in a residence attached to the family bakery on Parliament St., and was educated at St Kieran's College, Kilkenny, and the Albert Agricultural College in Glasnevin, Dublin. After leaving school, he farmed at Dunbell, Kilkenny (1946–59), but quickly became disillusioned with the farming industry. For the last four years of his farming career, he studied at home for a Bachelor of Economic Science degree from London University. On graduating, he sold his farm to the land commission and moved his family to London, where he took a masters degree in economics from the London School of Economics and was appointed lecturer in agricultural economics at the University of Wales at Aberystwyth. In the mid 1960s he worked in Kuala Lumpur for the UK overseas development agency and took up a position as advising economist with the Malaysian ministry of agriculture. He later worked, variously, as a consultant for the World Bank, the IMF, the UN, and the Commission of the Andean Pact in the Caribbean, Botswana, India, Thailand, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. From 1982 he lectured in TCD, where he was attached to the statistics department.
The insights and experience he gained during his time farming in Ireland, and during his economic consultancy work in developing countries, deeply influenced his publications and facilitated an original approach to economics and, particularly, to the problems of pastoral farming. He saw analogies between the economic problems of Ireland and of former colonies where the traditional social and political structure had been displaced by externally imposed institutions. He believed decolonisation across the globe invariably saw wealth and privilege remain with an elite while the mass of people slipped further into poverty or emigration. His first book, Irish agricultural production (1966), a seminal work in Irish economic history, argued that Irish agricultural policy benefited the inefficient farmer while penalising the efficient one, and that to succeed the farmer had to minimise input rather than maximise profit. He championed policies that would aid the bulk of small farmers rather than a coterie of big ones, and believed that to build a productive agricultural sector it was necessary to introduce a land tax that would tax the amount of land held by a farmer, rather than the use he made of it; he opposed the EU common agricultural policy as a charter for monopolists. He believed the state had the means to determine a country's economic functioning to benefit the poorer sections of society: as critical of industrial as of agricultural policy, he continually condemned the prevailing economic orthodoxies which he viewed as myopic, acutely prejudiced in favour of the business and political elites, and against the broad national interest. He warned against the use of debt expansion as a fundamental of economic policy, and in 1976 declared that economic collapse, coupled with the fall in emigration, left Ireland on the road to revolution and anarchy. He later called for the repudiation of the national debt and the scrapping of PAYE, PRSI, and VAT payments. His many publications include Cattle, economics and development (1980), Ireland in crisis: a study in capitalist colonial underdevelopment (1986), the autobiographical A radical's response (1988), and Japan and Ireland: a comparative study (1991).
A formidable campaigner who avoided allegiance to any political party, and whose intellectual acuity was backed by an abundance of courage and energy, he became a leading public figure during more than two decades of opposition to European integration. He was joint secretary of the Common Market Defence Campaign in the run-up to the 1972 referendum on joining the EEC which, he said, would provoke a dramatic increase in unemployment and result in the failure of Irish agriculture to modernise. He also held the position of joint secretary of the National Platform, which opposed ratification of the Maastricht treaty in 1992. He created legal history in 1987 when the supreme court upheld his view that the rights of Irish citizens would be violated if the oireachtas proceeded to ratify the Single European Act without recourse to referendum. In the ensuing referendum he was president of the Constitutional Rights Campaign. Viewed by many as an eccentric, he was seen by others as an articulate, insightful, original thinker, who sometimes extended his otherwise compelling arguments to the point where they lost credibility.
His favourite hobby was paddling around Irish rivers in a canoe. One uncle, Dr Martin Crotty, was state solicitor; another, Paddy Crotty was a TD, while a third, James Crotty, was a judge in Cork. His aunt May Crotty married Sir Cornelius Gregg (qv), a leading British civil servant. He himself married in Waterford (8 November 1948) Bridget, youngest child of John Kirwan of Lower Grange, a noted provincial racehorse trainer, huntsman, and cricketer, and Annie Kirwan (née Murphy). They had three sons and four daughters. On leaving Kilkenny, he lived for many years at a variety of residences in Latin America, Malaysia, England, and latterly at Clonard Rd, Dublin. While revising the last chapters of When histories collide (2001), he died 1 January 1994 after a brief illness at St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin and was buried at Tulla cemetery, Threecastles, Kilkenny.