Europe :: Ireland

Introduction ::Ireland

    Celtic tribes arrived on the island between 600 and 150 B.C. Invasions by Norsemen that began in the late 8th century were finally ended when King Brian BORU defeated the Danes in 1014. English invasions began in the 12th century and set off more than seven centuries of Anglo-Irish struggle marked by fierce rebellions and harsh repressions. A failed 1916 Easter Monday Rebellion touched off several years of guerrilla warfare that in 1921 resulted in independence from the UK for 26 southern counties; six northern (Ulster) counties remained part of the UK. In 1949, Ireland withdrew from the British Commonwealth; it joined the European Community in 1973. Irish governments have sought the peaceful unification of Ireland and have cooperated with Britain against terrorist groups. A peace settlement for Northern Ireland is gradually being implemented despite some difficulties. In 2006, the Irish and British governments developed and began to implement the St. Andrews Agreement, building on the Good Friday Agreement approved in 1998.

Geography ::Ireland

People and Society ::Ireland

Government ::Ireland

    conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Ireland
    local long form: none
    local short form: Eire
    republic, parliamentary democracy
    name: Dublin
    geographic coordinates: 53 19 N, 6 14 W
    time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
    29 counties and 5 cities*; Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Cork*, Donegal, Dublin*, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal, Galway, Galway*, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Limerick*, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, North Tipperary, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, South Dublin, South Tipperary, Waterford, Waterford*, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow
    6 December 1921 (from the UK by treaty)
    Saint Patrick's Day, 17 March
    adopted 1 July 1937 by plebiscite; effective 29 December 1937
    common law system based on the English model but substantially modified by customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in Supreme Court
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
    18 years of age; universal
    chief of state: President Michael D. HIGGINS (since 29 October 2011)
    head of government: Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda KENNY (since 9 March 2011)
    cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president with previous nomination by the prime minister and approval of the lower house of Parliament
    (For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
    elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 29 October 2011 (next to be held in October 2018); taoiseach (prime minister} nominated by the House of Representatives (Dail Eireann) and appointed by the president
    election results: Michael D. HIGGINS elected president; percent of vote - Michael D. HIGGINS 39.6%, Sean GALLAGHER 28.5%, Martin MCGUINNESS 13.7%, Gay MITCHELL 6.4%, David NORRIS 6.2%, other 5.6%
    bicameral Parliament or Oireachtas consists of the Senate or Seanad Eireann (60 seats; 49 members elected by the universities and from candidates put forward by five vocational panels, 11 are nominated by the prime minister; members serve five-year terms) and the lower house of Parliament or Dail Eireann (166 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve five-year terms)
    elections: Senate - last held in 27 April 2011 (next to be held 2016); House of Representatives - last held on 25 February 2011 (next to be held probably in 2016)
    election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Fine Gael 19, Fianna Fail 14, Labor Party 12, Sinn Fein 3, independents 12; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - Fine Gael 45.8%, Labor Party 22.3%, Fianna Fail 12.0%, Sinn Fein 8.4%, United Left Alliance 3.0%, New Vision 0.6%, independents 7.8%; seats by party - Fine Gael 76, Labor Party 37, Fianna Fail 20, Sinn Fein 14, United Left Alliance 5, New Vision 1, independents 13; note - after November 2009 disbandment of the Progressive Democrats, the two members of the Senate continued as independent DPs
    note: on 8 November 2008, delegates voted to disband the Progressive Democrats, and in November 2009 it officially stopped operating as a political party
    highest court(s): Supreme Court or Court of Final Appeal (consists of the chief justice and 7 judges)
    judge selection and term of office: judges nominated by the prime minister and Cabinet and appointed by the president; judges serve till age 70
    subordinate courts: High Court, Court of Criminal Appeal; circuit and district courts
    Fianna Fail [Michael MARTIN]
    Fine Gael [Enda KENNY]
    Green Party [Eamon RYAN]
    Labor Party [Eamon GILMORE]
    New Vision
    Sinn Fein [Gerry ADAMS]
    Socialist Party [Joe HIGGINS]
    The Workers' Party [Michael FINNEGAN]
    United Left Alliance
    Families Acting for Innocent Relatives or FAIR [Brian MCCONNELL] (seek compensation for victims of violence);
    Families Against Intimidation and Terror or FAIT (oppose terrorism);
    Gaeltacht Civil Rights Campaign (Coiste Cearta Sibhialta na Gaeilge) or CCSG (encourages the use of the Irish language and campaigns for greater civil rights in Irish speaking areas);
    Iona Institute [David QUINN] (a conservative Catholic think tank);
    Irish Anti-War Movement [Richard BOYD BARRETT] (campaigns against wars around the world);
    Irish Republican Army or IRA (terrorist group);
    Keep Ireland Open (environmental group);
    Midland Railway Action Group or MRAG [Willie ALLEN] (transportation promoters);
    Peace and Neutrality Alliance [Roger COLE] (campaigns to protect Irish neutrality);
    Rail Users Ireland (formerly the Platform 11 - transportation promoters);
    32 Country Sovereignty Movement or 32CSM (supports a fully sovereign Ireland);
    Ulster Defence Association or UDA (terrorist group)
    chief of mission: Ambassador Michael COLLINS
    chancery: 2234 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 462-3939
    FAX: [1] (202) 232-5993
    consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco
    chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires John HENNESSEY-NILAND
    embassy: 42 Elgin Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
    mailing address: use embassy street address
    telephone: [353] (1) 668-8777
    FAX: [353] (1) 668-9946
    three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and orange; officially the flag colors have no meaning, but a common interpretation is that the green represents the Irish nationalist (Gaelic) tradition of Ireland; orange represents the Orange tradition (minority supporters of William of Orange); white symbolizes peace (or a lasting truce) between the green and the orange
    note: similar to the flag of Cote d'Ivoire, which is shorter and has the colors reversed - orange (hoist side), white, and green; also similar to the flag of Italy, which is shorter and has colors of green (hoist side), white, and red
    name: "Amhran na bhFiann" (The Soldier's Song)

    lyrics/music: Peadar KEARNEY [English], Liam O RINN [Irish]/Patrick HEENEY and Peadar KEARNEY
    note: adopted 1926; instead of "Amhran na bhFiann," the song "Ireland's Call" is often used in athletic events where citizens of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland compete as a unified team

Economy ::Ireland

    Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy. Ireland was among the initial group of 12 EU nations that began circulating the euro on 1 January 2002. GDP growth averaged 6% in 1995-2007, but economic activity has dropped sharply since the onset of the world financial crisis, with GDP falling by over 3% in 2008, nearly 7% in 2009, and less than 1% in 2010. Ireland entered into a recession in 2008 for the first time in more than a decade, with the subsequent collapse of its domestic property and construction markets. Property prices rose more rapidly in Ireland in the decade up to 2007 than in any other developed economy. Since their 2007 peak, average house prices have fallen 47%. In the wake of the collapse of the construction sector and the downturn in consumer spending and business investment, the export sector, dominated by foreign multinationals, has become a key component of Ireland's economy. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry and services. In 2008 the former COWEN government moved to guarantee all bank deposits, recapitalize the banking system, and establish partly-public venture capital funds in response to the country's economic downturn. In 2009, in continued efforts to stabilize the banking sector, the Irish Government established the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) to acquire problem commercial property and development loans from Irish banks. Faced with sharply reduced revenues and a burgeoning budget deficit, the Irish Government introduced the first in a series of draconian budgets in 2009. In addition to across-the-board cuts in spending, the 2009 budget included wage reductions for all public servants. These measures were not sufficient. In 2010, the budget deficit reached 32.4% of GDP - the world's largest deficit, as a percentage of GDP - because of additional government support for the banking sector. In late 2010, the former COWEN government agreed to a $112 billion loan package from the EU and IMF to help Dublin further increase the capitalization of its banking sector and avoid defaulting on its sovereign debt. Since entering office in March 2011, the new KENNY government has intensified austerity measures to try to meet the deficit targets under Ireland's EU-IMF program. Ireland achieved moderate growth of 1.4% in 2011 and cut the budget deficit to 9.1% of GDP. Although the recovery slowed in 2012 because of weaker EU demand for Irish exports, Dublin managed to trim the deficit to about 8.5% of GDP.
    $195.4 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 58
    $193.6 billion (2011 est.)
    $190.8 billion (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    $210.4 billion (2012 est.)
    0.9% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 163
    1.4% (2011 est.)
    -0.8% (2010 est.)
    $42,600 (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 24
    $42,300 (2011 est.)
    $41,900 (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    14.8% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 104
    11.4% of GDP (2011 est.)
    12.7% of GDP (2010 est.)
    household consumption: 50.1%
    government consumption: 15.1%
    investment in fixed capital: 10%
    investment in inventories: 0%
    exports of goods and services: 108.3%
    imports of goods and services: -84.1%
    (2012 est.)
    agriculture: 1.8%
    industry: 26.3%
    services: 72% (2012 est.)
    barley, potatoes, wheat; beef, dairy products
    pharmaceuticals, chemicals, computer hardware and software, food products, beverages and brewing; medical devices
    -0.1% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 136
    2.154 million (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 120
    agriculture: 5%
    industry: 19%
    services: 76% (2011 est.)
    14.7% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 141
    14.4% (2011 est.)
    5.5% (2009)
    lowest 10%: 2.9%
    highest 10%: 27.2% (2000)
    33.9 (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 94
    35.9 (1987)
    revenues: $72.76 billion
    expenditures: $88.49 billion (2012 est.)
    34.6% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 67
    -7.5% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 189
    118.4% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 10
    106.4% of GDP (2011 est.)
    note: data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment; debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions
    calendar year
    1.7% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 31
    2.6% (2011 est.)
    1.5% (31 December 2012)
    country comparison to the world: 118
    1.75% (31 December 2010)
    note: this is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area
    3.55% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 172
    3.81% (31 December 2011 est.)
    $122.2 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 30
    $118.3 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 17 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money circulating within their own borders
    $291.1 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 33
    $260 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
    $432.8 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 28
    $456.8 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $35.36 billion (31 December 2011)
    country comparison to the world: 57
    $33.72 billion (31 December 2010)
    $29.88 billion (31 December 2009)
    $3.5 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 32
    $2.484 billion (2011 est.)
    $119 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 36
    $126.7 billion (2011 est.)
    machinery and equipment, computers, chemicals, medical devices, pharmaceuticals; food products, animal products
    US 18%, UK 17.4%, Belgium 15.6%, Germany 8.4%, Switzerland 5.8%, France 5% (2012)
    $64.32 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 47
    $67.11 billion (2011 est.)
    data processing equipment, other machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum and petroleum products, textiles, clothing
    UK 40%, US 13.2%, Germany 7.6%, Netherlands 5.6% (2012)
    $1.707 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 126
    $1.703 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $2.163 trillion (31 December 2012)
    country comparison to the world: 11
    $2.213 trillion (31 December 2011)
    $276.4 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 19
    $243.5 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $347 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 17
    $324.2 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    euros (EUR) per US dollar -
    0.7778 (2012 est.)
    0.7185 (2011 est.)
    0.755 (2010 est.)
    0.7198 (2009 est.)
    0.6827 (2008 est.)

Energy ::Ireland

Communications ::Ireland

    2.047 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 57
    4.906 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 106
    general assessment: modern digital system using cable and microwave radio relay
    domestic: system privatized but dominated by former state monopoly operator; increasing levels of broadband access particularly in urban areas
    international: country code - 353; landing point for the Hibernia-Atlantic submarine cable with links to the US, Canada, and UK; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2011)
    publicly owned broadcaster Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE) operates 2 TV stations; commercial TV stations are available; about 75% of households utilize multi-channel satellite and TV services that provide access to a wide range of stations; RTE operates 4 national radio stations and has launched digital audio broadcasts on several stations; a number of commercial broadcast stations operate at the national, regional, and local levels (2007)
    1.387 million (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 40
    3.042 million (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 67

Transportation ::Ireland

    40 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 105
    total: 16
    over 3,047 m: 1
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
    914 to 1,523 m: 5
    under 914 m: 5 (2013)
    total: 24
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
    914 to 1,523 m: 2
    under 914 m:
    21 (2013)
    gas 2,147 km (2013)
    total: 3,237 km
    country comparison to the world: 54
    broad gauge: 1,872 km 1.600-m gauge (37 km electrified)
    narrow gauge: 1,365 km 0.914-m gauge (operated by the Irish Peat Board to transport peat to power stations and briquetting plants) (2008)
    total: 96,036 km
    country comparison to the world: 47
    paved: 96,036 km (includes 1,224 km of expressways) (2010)
    956 km (pleasure craft only) (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 68
    total: 31
    country comparison to the world: 83
    by type: cargo 28, chemical tanker 2, container 1
    foreign-owned: 5 (France 2, Spain 1, US 2)
    registered in other countries: 33 (Bahamas 3, Bermuda 1, Cambodia 1, Cyprus 3, Isle of Man 1, Kazakhstan 1, Malta 4, Marshall Islands 6, Netherlands 8, Panama 1, Russia 1, Slovakia 1, Sweden 1, UK 1) (2010)
    Cork, Dublin, Shannon Foynes, Waterford

Military ::Ireland

Transnational Issues ::Ireland

    Ireland, Iceland, and the UK dispute Denmark's claim that the Faroe Islands' continental shelf extends beyond 200 nm
    stateless persons: 73 (2012)
    transshipment point for and consumer of hashish from North Africa to the UK and Netherlands and of European-produced synthetic drugs; increasing consumption of South American cocaine; minor transshipment point for heroin and cocaine destined for Western Europe; despite recent legislation, narcotics-related money laundering - using bureaux de change, trusts, and shell companies involving the offshore financial community - remains a concern