Ireland. According to countryaah, the current population of Ireland is 4,937,797. Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s governing coalition Fine Gael and Labor did not receive a majority in the parliamentary elections on February 26, forcing Kenny to approach arch rival Fianna Fáil, who made a good choice (23%). Only in a fourth attempt was Enda Kenny re-elected in May as prime minister.
According to thereligionfaqs, Ireland’s favorable business tax rules were investigated during the year by the EU, led by competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager. At the end of August, the European Commission decided that the electronics company Apple will repay EUR 13 billion, equivalent to SEK 125 billion, in tax to Ireland. In a similar ruling, this time from the United States, Facebook demanded the equivalent of SEK 43 billion since moving the business to Ireland in 2010. In September, Kenny made an unsuccessful attempt to convince his minority government to appeal the EU decision regarding Apple. In November, however, Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced that the EU judgment will still be appealed.
In June, a UN report drew harsh criticism of the country’s ban on abortions, which it believes are discriminatory and cruel. The reason for the criticism was that a woman was forced to go to the UK to abort a fetus with an injury which meant that this would still die before childbirth. During the fall, several demonstrations were held to abolish the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which protects the unborn’s right to life and only approves abortion in extreme cases, such as when the mother’s life is in danger. In Dublin alone, for example, over 20,000 people demonstrated at the end of September. According to a survey by the Irish Times, only a small majority (55%) are in favor of abolishing the constitutional supplement.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) announced in June that three EU countries, Ireland, the UK and the Czech Republic, are suspected of violating labor law conventions.
Following the June referendum in the UK, British applications for Irish passports increased to such an extent that Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan asked those who sought to “calm down”. Everyone born in Ireland (or Northern Ireland) is entitled to an Irish passport; this also applies to those who have parents, even grandparents, born in Ireland.
The country was pleased to have the fastest growing economy in the EU during the previous year. During the fourth quarter of 2015, growth was 9%. Growth was the largest since 2001. To counteract the effects of Britain’s exit from the EU, Ireland is now planning tax cuts in agriculture, food and tourism. Minister of Finance Noonan therefore presented a “Brexit-proof” budget in October.
Contemporary History of Ireland
The contemporary history of Ireland encompasses the history of Ireland from around 2000 to the present day.
Ireland has undergone a great development since the late 1900s. The Catholic Church has lost its grip on socio-political issues and its relationship with Britain, which has been characterized by war and conflict for centuries, is relatively stable. Queen Elizabeth 2 of the UK’s visit to Ireland in 2011 is proof of the now good neighborly relationship. Nevertheless, the debate around Brexit (Britain’s exit from the European Union) has created waves in the relationship, since the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland (UK) becomes the EU’s external border after the British exit.
Following Ireland’s accession to the EU in 1973, the country has evolved into a modern nation with a globalized industrial economy. The 1990s saw a strong development of modern technology and many multinational companies invested money in the country. Investment and development gave Ireland the name “the Celtic tiger”, and although the country is still financially dependent on agriculture, it was seen as a safe place to establish industry.
Ireland was strongly involved in the Northern Ireland peace process culminating in the 1998 Belfast Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement in 2006. The conflict in Northern Ireland affected conditions on the Irish island for over 30 years and more than 3,500 people were killed. Ireland has been involved in the peace processes in the province of Ulster since 1985.
Politically, Ireland’s contemporary history has been dominated by the two major parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. The financial crisis in 2008 left deep and lasting traces in Irish society. After 2015, the country has been marked by the struggle for same-sex marriage and change in the law on abortion.
The 2002 and 2007 elections
In the election for a new national assembly in 2002, the Fianna Fáil government party lacked just four seats in a pure majority, while the leading opposition party Fine Gael had the biggest decline, and leader Michael Noonan resigned immediately. Fianna Fail held the post of largest party also in the 2007 elections – and Bertie Ahern could thus embark on his third five-year term as prime minister.
However, in order to secure the majority in the National Assembly, the coalition with the liberalist Progressive Democrats was expanded, with the Green Party environmental party joining for a first time in a government. Tighter climate policy and direct election of mayors in the municipalities were two key points in the new cooperation agreement. In May 2008, one year after the election – and after eleven years as prime minister – Ahern resigned, based on a financial affair in the 1990s. He was followed by party cowboy Brian Cowen.
The Irish economy was severely hit by the global financial crisis that began in 2008. The term “The Celtic Tiger” went out of business, and Irish money borrowed from the International Monetary Fund and the EU. A 250 percent increase in ten-year property prices was now followed by an almost free fall, and low unemployment was replaced by a steep rise. When the effects of the financial crisis hit in the fall of 2008, Ireland became the first Western European country to record a recession (negative growth) two quarters in a row, and featured among the hardest hit countries in the Eurozone. A revised budget in spring 2009 was made up of a deficit equivalent to 13 percent of the gross domestic product, where EU rules set the limit at 3 percent.
In the autumn, unemployment reached 12 percent, after rising for 20 consecutive months. Earlier this year, a demonstration against the government’s crisis management gathered 100,000 participants in Dublin’s streets. The financial crisis again led to large emigration of Irish who saw no future in the country. Unemployment especially hit the young graduates.