IRELAND
Ireland
Eire
Joined United Nations:  14 December 1955
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
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Updated 10 October 2012
CAPITAL
POPULATION
CHIEF OF STATE
SELECTION PROCESS
Dublin
4,722,028 (July 2012 est.)
Michael D. Higgins
President since 29 October 2011
President elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible
for a second term); election last held 29 October 2011

Next scheduled election: October 2018
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
SELECTION PROCESS
Enda Kenny
Prime Minister (Taoiseach) since 9 March 2011
Prime minister (taoiseach) nominated by the House of
Representatives and appointed by the president
DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
ETHNIC GROUPS
Irish 87.4%, other white 7.5%, Asian 1.3%, black 1.1%, mixed 1.1%, unspecified 1.6% (2006 census)
RELIGIONS
Roman Catholic 87.4%, Church of Ireland 2.9%, other Christian 1.9%, other 2.1%, unspecified 1.5%, none 4.2%
(2006 census)
GOVERNMENT
STRUCTURE
Republic, parliamentary democracy comprised of 26 counties; Legal system is based on English common law,
substantially modified by indigenous concepts; judicial review of legislative acts in Supreme Court; has not accepted
compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Executive:   President elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 29
October 2011 (next scheduled for October 2018);
Prime Minister (taoiseach) nominated by the House of
Representatives (Dail Eireann) and appointed by the president
Legislative: Bicameral Parliament or Oireachtas consists of the Senate or Seanad Eireann (60 seats - 49 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 House of Representatives or Dail Eireann (166 seats; members are 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)
Judicial: Supreme Court (judges appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister and cabinet)
LANGUAGES
English (official) is the language generally used, Irish (official) (Gaelic or Gaeilge) spoken mainly in areas located along
the western seaboard
BRIEF HISTORY
ECONOMIC OVERVIEW
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 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 KENNY government has intensified
austerity measures to try to meet the deficit targets under Ireland's EU-IMF program. Ireland achieved moderate growth
in 2011 and cut the budget deficit to 10.1% of GDP, although the recovery is expected to slow in 2012 as a result of
the euro-zone debt crisis.
Source:
CIA World Factbook (select Ireland)
POLITICAL CLIMATE
The head of state is the President of Ireland. In keeping with the state's parliamentary system of government the
President exercises a mainly ceremonial role but does possess certain specific powers. The presidency is open to all Irish
citizens who are at least 35. They are directly elected by secret ballot under the Alternative Vote. A candidate may be
nominated for election as President by no less than 20 members of the Oireachtas or by four or more of the Ireland's 29
County/County Borough Councils. A retiring President may nominate themselves as a candidate for re-election. If only
one valid candidate is nominated for election, for example if there is consensus among the political parties to nominate a
single candidate, it is unnecessary to proceed to a ballot and that candidate is deemed elected. The President is elected
to a seven year term of office and no person may serve more than two terms.

Executive authority is exercised by a cabinet known simply as the Government. Article 28 of the Constitution states that
the Government may consist of no less than seven and no more than fifteen members, namely the Taoiseach (prime
minister), the Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) and up to thirteen other ministers. The Taoiseach is appointed by the
President, after being nominated by Dáil Éireann (the lower house of parliament). The remaining ministers are nominated
by the Taoiseach and appointed by the President following their approval by the Dáil. The Government must enjoy the
confidence of Dáil Éireann and, in the event that they cease to enjoy the support of the lower house, the Taoiseach must
either resign or request the President to dissolve the Dáil, in which case a general election follows.

The parliament of Ireland is the Oireachtas. The Oireachtas consists of the President and two houses: Dáil Éireann and
Seanad Éireann (also known as the Senate). The Dáil is by far the dominant House of the legislature. The President may
not veto bills passed by the Oireachtas, but may refer them to the Irish Supreme Court for a ruling on whether they
comply with the constitution.


Under the Belfast Agreement (also known as the Good Friday Agreement) and Article 3 of the constitution a
North-South Ministerial Council and six North-South Implementation Bodies coordinate activities and exercise a limited
governmental role within certain policy areas across the whole island of Ireland. The Implementation Bodies have limited
executive authority in six policy areas. Meetings of the Council take the form of meetings between ministers from both
the Republic's Government and the Northern Ireland Executive. The Council was suspended from 2002 to 2007.
However, with the resumption of devolved government in Northern Ireland in May 2007, the Council has now
reassumed its duties.

Source: Wikipedia: Politics of the Republic of Ireland
INTERNATIONAL
DISPUTES
Ireland, Iceland, and the UK dispute Denmark's claim that the Faroe Islands' continental shelf extends beyond 200 nm
U.S. State Department
United Nations Human
Rights Council
Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
Freedom House
REFUGEES AND
INTERNALLY
DISPLACED PERSONS
(IDP)
None reported.
ILLICIT DRUGS
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
Irish Centre for Human Rights
U. S. STATE
DEPARTMENT
HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
2011 Human Rights Report: Ireland
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
20
11 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May
25, 2012

Ireland is a multiparty parliamentary democracy with an executive branch headed by a prime minister, a bicameral parliament
(Oireachtas), and a directly elected president. The country held free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections in February.
Security forces reported to civilian authorities.

The principal human rights problems were related to conditions in older prisons and detention facilities, some of which failed to
meet basic needs for hygiene and sanitation. In addition, some prisons were overcrowded.

Other human rights problems reported were: trafficking in persons; discrimination against racial minorities, immigrants, and an
indigenous nomadic group called Travellers; domestic violence; and the mistreatment of children.

The government took steps to prosecute officials who committed human rights abuses, including in the security services and
elsewhere in the government.
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UNITED NATIONS
HUMAN RIGHTS
COUNCIL
17 June 2011
Committee against Torture
Forty-sixth session
9 May - 3 June 2011
Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 19 of the Convention
Concluding observations of the Committee against Torture
Ireland

A. Introduction
2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the initial report by the State party but regrets that it was submitted after a delay of
eight years, which has prevented the Committee from monitoring the implementation of the Convention in the State party. The
Committee also notes that the State party report generally followed the guidelines but that it lacked specific information on the
implementation of the Convention.
3. The Committee notes with appreciation that a high-level delegation from the State party met with the Committee during its forty-
sixth session, and also notes with appreciation the opportunity it had to engage in a constructive dialogue covering many areas
under the Convention. The Committee also commends the State party for the detailed written replies that it provided during the
consideration of the State party report.

B. Positive aspects
4. The Committee welcomes the ratification by the State party of the following international and regional instruments:
(a) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on 8 December 1989;
(b) International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, on 29 December 2000;
(c) Convention on the Rights of the Child, on 28 September 1992;

C. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations
Reduction of financial resources for human rights institutions
8. While welcoming the commitment by the State party to provide resources for human rights institutions, the Committee expresses
concern at information received on the disproportionate budget cuts to various human rights institutions mandated to promote and
monitor human rights, such as the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC), in comparison to other public institutions.
Furthermore, while noting the decision to move IHRC from the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs to the
Department of Justice and Equality, the Committee regrets that IHRC does not have direct accountability to Parliament and lacks
financial autonomy (art. 2).
The Committee recommends that the State party should ensure that the current budget cuts to human rights institutions, in
particular the Irish Human Rights Commission, do not result in the crippling of its activities and render its mandate ineffective. In
this regard, the State party is encouraged to strengthen its efforts in ensuring that human rights institutions continue to effectively
discharge their mandates. Furthermore, the Committee recommends that the State party should strengthen the independence of
IHRC by, inter alia, ensuring its direct accountability to Parliament and financial autonomy in line with the principles relating to the
status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (Paris Principles).
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FREEDOM HOUSE
Freedom In The World Report- 2012
Political Rights Score: 1
Civil Liberties Score: 1
Status: Free

Overview
In early parliamentary elections in February 2011, the Fianna Fáil party suffered a crushing defeat to the Fine Gael party, which
entered into a coalition with the Labour Party. In October, former Labour Party leader Michael D. Higgins was elected Ireland’s
president. The country continued to struggle with serious economic problems, though Prime Minister Enda Kenny secured an
interest rate reduction on Ireland’s European Union loans. Meanwhile, tensions between the government and the Catholic Church
escalated over the handling of clerical sexual abuse.


Frustration with and distrust of the government reached new levels in late 2010 following the acceptance of a $113 billion loan
package from the International Monetary Fund and the EU, which would require harsh austerity measures. Fianna Fáil was largely
blamed for failing to address the reckless lending that ultimately resulted in a burst of the country’s housing bubble, and the party’s
popularity sank to 15 percent. Under serious pressure, Cowen resigned as party leader in late January 2011, and Micheál Martin
took his place. The Green Party subsequently quit the coalition, leaving Fianna Fáil without a majority in Parliament. Cowen called
for early elections, pledging to stay on in a caretaker capacity.

After holding power for 61 of the last 79 years, Fianna Fáil suffered its worst defeat in early elections held on February 25,  
capturing only 20 seats in Parliament’s lower house, down from 78 in 2007. Fine Gael won 76 seats, but lacked a majority, and
was forced to enter into a coalition with the Labour Party, which took 37 seats. The Greens failed to enter Parliament, while Sinn
Féin won 14 seats. The remaining seats went to independents and two smaller parties. Enda Kenny of Fine Gael was elected prime
minister. Holding two-thirds of the seats, Kenny’s Fine Gael-Labour coalition held the largest parliamentary majority in Ireland’s
history.

Former Labour member of parliament Michael D. Higgins was elected president on October 29 with 40 percent of the vote,
replacing outgoing President Mary McAleese. Higgins successfully defeated second place contender  Martin McGuiness, deputy
leader of Sinn Féin and former Irish Republican Army commander, and third place Gay Mitchell of Fine Gael.

Ireland has faced severe economic problems in conjunction with the global economic crisis, driven by a rapid decline in property
prices. The economy entered a technical depression in 2009, mostly due to government bailouts for the banking system. After three
years of austerity measures, during which time household wealth fell by almost a third, the government continued to make painful
cuts. In a July 2011 euro-zone summit in Brussels, Kenny successfully reduced the interest rate of Ireland’s loans and extended
their maturity. However, by the end of 2011, the budget deficit had climbed to €24.9 billion (approximately $30 billion).

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AMNESTY
INTERNATIONAL
World Report 2012
24 May 2012

Criticisms were raised by the UN Committee against Torture regarding the lack of prosecutions in reported cases of violence
against children in religious-run institutions. Provision of mental health services continued to be inadequate. Prison conditions fell
below required standards.


Legal, constitutional or institutional developments
The 2011 Programme for Government, published in March, promised consideration of comprehensive constitutional reform,
including in the areas of same-sex marriage, women’s equality and removing blasphemy from the Constitution.

In September, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights published the report of his June visit to Ireland, which raised
concerns about the possibly detrimental effect of existing and proposed budgetary measures on the protection of human rights,
particularly in relation to vulnerable groups. In September, the government announced its intention to merge the Irish Human Rights
Commission and Equality Authority into a new Human Rights and Equality Commission.

Children’s rights
In June, the UN Committee against Torture expressed concern that few cases of violence against children in religious-run
institutions were forwarded for prosecution, despite extensive evidence of such abuse in the 2009 Report of the Commission to
Inquire into Child Abuse (the Ryan Report).

The report of the Commission of Investigation, Dublin Archdiocese, Catholic Diocese of Cloyne (the Cloyne Report) was published
in July. Among other findings, it concluded that two thirds of allegations of clerical sexual violence against children in that diocese
made to the Catholic Church between 1996 and 2009 had not been forwarded to the Irish police force, An Garda Síochána, as
required by the Church’s 1996 guidelines. The government subsequently renewed commitments regarding mandatory reporting of
suspected violence against children.

Arms trade
After a significant delay, the first annual report under the Control of Exports Act 2008 on military and dual-use exports and
brokering was published in September, covering the period 2008 to 2010. However, there were gaps in the information it contained;
for example, the end-use of the products was not listed.

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HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Ireland: European Court Says Abortion Is a Rights Issue
Ruling Says Ireland Must Ensure Access to Legal Services
December 16, 2010

(New York) - The European Court of Human Rights judgment on December 16, 2010, on Ireland's abortion restrictions is a wake-
up call to the Irish government, Human Rights Watch said today. The case before the Strasbourg-based court, ABC vs. Ireland,
was brought by three women who suffered grave health consequences as a result of not being able to access abortion services
within Ireland. The court found that Ireland's failure to regulate access to abortion had led to a violation of its human rights
obligations.

"In Ireland, even women, such as applicant C in this case, whose pregnancies are life-threatening are unable to access abortions,"
said Marianne Mollmann, women's rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "This morning the European Court established
that this is not just tragic, it is a violation of human rights.  And it must end now."

In Ireland, abortion is legally restricted in almost all circumstances, with potential penalties of up to life in prison for both patients
and service providers, except cases in which the pregnant woman's life is in danger.  There is little legal and policy guidance on
when, specifically, an abortion might be legally performed within Ireland. Every year thousands of women and girls travel from
Ireland to other European countries for abortions.  

In January 2010, Human Rights Watch released a report, "A State of Isolation: Access to Abortion for Women in Ireland," detailing
how women struggle to overcome the financial, logistical, physical, and emotional burdens imposed by restrictive laws and policies
that force them to seek care abroad, without support from the state.  The case before the European Court was brought by three
women who had personally suffered these ordeals.

"Unfortunately, the ABC case is only the tip of the iceberg," Mollmann said. "Every year, the Irish government prevents thousands
of women and girls from getting timely access to medical care they need. This is true even in circumstances in which the Supreme
Court of Ireland has said a woman is entitled to such access."

Overcoming the legal hurdles on access to abortion in Ireland for all women would ultimately require a constitutional amendment.  
However, the Irish government could take a number of actions immediately that would greatly improve women's lives, Human
Rights Watch said. These include ensuring unfettered access to legal health services within Ireland, including life-saving abortions,
post-abortion care, and screening for fetal abnormalities. These steps are also necessary to comply with the Court's judgment
today.
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OFFICIAL
GOVERNMENT HUMAN
RIGHTS STATEMENT
Launch by the Taoiseach of Mary Robinson's Memoirs Everybody Matters At Ballina Arts Centre
Monday, 17 September 2012

Desmond Tutu loves Mary Robinson.
He told RTE he did.
And RTE told Ireland if not quite the world.

That's the thing about Mary Robinson.
In her many-faceted career she generates respect, loyalty, admiration.
In her quite singular approach to her life and its living she generates love.

Love for and of her husband, her children, her grandchildren, her many, many friends.
And in many ways this is a book about love both personal and public.

Things like justice, truth, freedom, dignity, respect, human and civil rights.

This is the memoir of an Ambassador from and a citizen of the Republic of Conscience.

Everybody Matters is not just an excellent title of an extraordinary book it is the philosophy by which Mary Robinson lives and works
and has her being on what she is so acutely aware of particularly as a mother and grandmother as this fragile Earth.

It is beautifully written and brilliantly observed, managing to be haunting, brave, disturbing, uncomfortable, reassuring, illuminating.

It is also very funny in spots and characteristic Mary Robinson in showing humility and being self-effacing.
I would make Everybody Matters required reading for the under 40s.

In particular, in our schools and universities where I believe there needs to be new moves on teaching others knowledge to look again
at teaching our children and young people not just to learn but to think.

And to do so critically, independently and imaginatively.
In a way that involves not just their rights but their responsibilities what they can do for others what they can do for their community
their country their world.
Mary Robinson's reflections on Ireland remind us of the huge even quantum gains we have made in terms of what it means to be
citizens of a modern Republic.

But equally, they remind us of the duties we have to and for each other

They remind us of the respect required and due for the innate 'otherness of the other'.
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IRISH HUMAN RIGHTS
COMMISSION
Vetting Bill flawed unless harmonised with Spent Convictions Bill
Issued : 10 October 2012

The Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) today published its Observations on the National Vetting Bureau (Children and
Vulnerable Adults) Bill 2012 ("The Vetting Bill"). The IHRC welcomes the establishment, on a statutory basis, of mandatory vetting
for all people working with children and vulnerable adults. It called on the Government to harmonise the provisions of the Vetting
Bill with the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012 and to refrain from taking a blanket approach to the disclosure of
criminal records including pending prosecutions. The Observations were submitted to Mr Alan Shatter TD, Minister for Justice,
Equality and Defence.


Mr Des Hogan, Acting Chief Executive of the IHRC said
"However, the IHRC is concerned that the Bill may not fully take account of the human rights of people being vetted. More
safeguards should accompany the handling of criminal records. We recommend that, rather than a blanket approach to disclosing
criminal records to employers and other relevant organisations, the Vetting Bill should take a more proportionate approach. This
would require that decisions on a vetting disclosure be taken on a case by case basis with due regard for the public interest served
by the disclosure, when balanced against the right to privacy of the person to be vetted. Thus people convicted of minor offences
in the past where there is no correlation with the proposed employment should have the right notto have that minor offence
disclosed to an employer."

Key Recommendations
   The Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012, and the Vetting Bill should be brought into line with each other and the
relationship between each Bill clearly stated;
   All decisions on whether to disclose criminal records by the National Vetting Bureau should be made on a case by case basis and
an appropriate balance struck between the public interest served by the disclosure, and the right to privacy of the person subjected
to vetting;
   In order to respect the presumption of innocence and the requirement of forseeability in relation to one's actions, there should be
no blanket approach to disclosing pending prosecutions in the course of the vetting process. Such data should only be disclosed in
accordance with the procedures in the Bill which govern "Specified Information";
   There should be absolute clarity as to the obligation on education providers to require that students and trainees be vetted. This
would provide certainty for prospective students in relation to whether they can complete the course or traineeship, and what the
consequences are if they have a previous criminal record. Vetting should not be required unless participating in a course of
education and training will involve contact with children and vulnerable adults.

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IRISH CENTRE FOR
HUMAN RIGHTS
Complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
Monday, 14 May 2012.
Call for Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child on a Communications
Procedure

We the participants at the Symposium “Individual Complaints to the Committee on the Rights of the Child- Opportunities for
Ireland”:

Gathered here in the National University of Ireland Galway on 14 May 2012,

Determined to advance the children’s rights principles embodied in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other human
rights instruments,

        Recalling that the Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty, yet until
now the only core international human rights treaty without a complaints procedure,

        Acknowledging that the UN General Assembly adopted on 19 December 2011 a new Optional Protocol to the Convention
on the Rights of the Child to include a communications procedure in respect of that instrument,

        Affirming that the adoption of the Protocol represents a major advancement for the protection of children’s rights
considering the need for child-friendly justice, as children’s special status makes it difficult for them to seek remedies for breaches
of their rights, and that the Protocol will reinforce domestic procedures;

        Recalling the words of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, after adoption of the instrument by the
UN General Assembly that “children will now be able to join the ranks of other rights-holders who are empowered to bring their
complaints about human rights violations before an international body”,

        Acknowledging that the Protocol opened for signature and ratification to UN Member States at an official signing ceremony
on 28 February 2012, as part of the March session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, and that twenty
States have already demonstrated their commitment to protecting children’s rights by signing the Protocol on this occasion,

        Recognising that Ireland co-sponsored the resolution adopting the Protocol at the Human Rights Council in June 2011 and at
the General Assembly in December 2011 and welcoming the support of the Irish Government for the Protocol,

        Also recognising that Ireland has already accepted other international communications procedures and is a party to the
Convention on the Rights of the Child since its ratification in 1992,

        Reinforcing the commitment of the National Children’s Strategy, 2000 where the first of three national goals is that
“Children Will Have A Voice” and where the vision is for “An Ireland where children are respected as young citizens with a valued
contribution to make and a voice of their own”,

        Welcoming the words of the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald that we need to ensure Ireland is a place where
children’s “voices are heard, where their needs are met” (noted in her recent comments at the 2012 Fine Gael Ard Fheis),

We :

Reaffirm our commitment to principles regarding equal rights and the inherent human dignity of all persons enshrined in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international human rights instruments;

Urge the Irish government to confirm this commitment to the protection of the rights of the child by ratifying the new Protocol;

Further urge in the case that the ratification process requires more time- particularly in light of the anticipated referendum- that
Ireland expeditiously signs the Protocol in order to demonstrate continued support for this important instrument;

Welcome opportunities to discuss and lend our support to the processes that will lead to Ireland’s ratification of the Protocol.

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What little is known of pre-Christian Ireland comes from a few references in Roman writings, Irish poetry and myth, and
archaeology. The earliest inhabitants of Ireland, people of a mid-Stone Age, or Mesolithic, culture, arrived sometime
after 8000 BC, when the climate had become more hospitable following the retreat of the polar icecaps. About 4000
BC agriculture was introduced from the continent, leading to the establishment of a high Neolithic culture, characterized
by the appearance of pottery, polished stone tools, rectangular wooden houses and communal megalithic tombs, some
of which are huge stone monuments like the Passage Tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, many of them
astronomically aligned (most notably, Newgrange). The Iron Age in Ireland began about 600 BC. By the historic period
(AD 431 onwards) the main over-kingdoms of In Tuisceart, Airgialla, Ulaid, Mide, Laigin, Mumhain, Cóiced Ol
nEchmacht began to emerge (see Kingdoms of ancient Ireland). Within these kingdoms a rich culture flourished. The
society of these kingdoms was dominated by an upper class, consisting of aristocratic warriors and learned people,
possibly including druids. The middle centuries of the first millennium AD marked great changes in Ireland. Niall
Noigiallach (died c.450/455) laid the basis for the Uí Néill dynasty's hegemony over much of western, northern and
central Ireland. Politically, the former emphasis on tribal affiliation had been replaced by the 700s by that of patrilineal
and dynastic background. Many formerly powerful kingdoms and peoples disappeared. Irish pirates struck all over the
coast of western Britain in the same way that the Vikings would later attack Ireland. Some of these founded entirely new
kingdoms in Pictland, Wales and Cornwall. The Attacotti of south Leinster may even have served in the Roman military
in the mid-to-late 300s. Perhaps it was some of the latter returning home as rich mercenaries, merchants, or slaves stolen
from Britain or Gaul, that first brought the Christian faith to Ireland. Some early sources claim that there were
missionaries active in southern Ireland long before St. Patrick. Whatever the route, and there were probably many, this
new faith was to have the most profound effect on the Irish. Tradition maintains that in AD 432, St. Patrick arrived on
the island and, in the years that followed, worked to convert the Irish to Christianity. On the other hand, according to
Prosper of Aquitaine, a contemporary chronicler, Palladius was sent to Ireland by the Pope in 431 as "first Bishop to the
Irish believing in Christ", which demonstrates that there were already Christians living in Ireland. The first recorded
Viking raid in Irish history occurred in 795 when Vikings from Norway looted the island of Lambay, located off the
Dublin coast. Early Viking raids were generally small in scale and quick. These early raids interrupted the golden age of
Christian Irish culture starting the beginning of two hundred years of intermittent warfare, with waves of Viking raiders
plundering monasteries and towns throughout Ireland. Most of the early raiders came from the fjords of western Norway.
In 852, the Vikings Ivar Beinlaus and Olaf the White landed in Dublin Bay and established a fortress, on which the city
of Dublin (from the Irish Gaelic An Dubh Linn meaning "the black pool") now stands.By the 12th century, Ireland was
divided politically into a shifting hierarchy of petty kingdoms and over-kingdoms. Power was exercised by the heads of a
few regional dynasties vying against each other for supremacy over the whole island. The first Norman knight landed in
Ireland in 1167, followed by the main forces of Normans, Welsh and Flemings in Wexford in 1169. This caused
consternation to King Henry II of England, who feared the establishment of a rival Norman state in Ireland. Accordingly,
he resolved to establish his authority. With the authority of the papal bull Laudabiliter from Adrian IV, Henry landed with
a large fleet at Waterford in 1171, becoming the first King of England to set foot on Irish soil. The Black Death arrived
in Ireland in 1348. Because most of the English and Norman inhabitants of Ireland lived in towns and villages, the plague
hit them far harder than it did the native Irish, who lived in more dispersed rural settlements. By the end of the 15th
century, central English authority in Ireland had all but disappeared. England's attentions were diverted by its Wars of the
Roses (civil war). From 1536, Henry VIII decided to re-conquer Ireland and bring it under crown control. From the
mid-16th and into the early seventeenth century, crown governments carried out a policy of colonisation known as
Plantations. The seventeenth century was perhaps the bloodiest in Ireland's history. Two periods of civil war (1641-53
and 1689-91) caused huge loss of life and resulted in the final dispossession of the Irish Catholic landowning class and
their subordination under the Penal Laws. The Catholic gentry briefly ruled the country as Confederate Ireland (1642-
1649) against the background of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms until Oliver Cromwell re-conquered Ireland in 1649-
1653 on behalf of the English Commonwealth. Ireland became the main battleground after the Glorious Revolution of
1688, when the Catholic James II left London and the English Parliament replaced him with William of Orange. By the
late eighteenth century, many of the Irish Protestant elite had come to see Ireland as their native country. In 1800, after
the Irish Rebellion of 1798, the British and the Irish parliaments enacted the Act of Union, which merged Kingdom of
Ireland and the Kingdom of Great Britain (itself a union of England and Scotland, created almost 100 years earlier), to
create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The second of Ireland's "Great Famines", An Gorta Mór struck
the country severely in the period 1845-1849, with potato blight leading to mass starvation and emigration. (See Irish
Potato Famine (1845-1849).) The impact of emigration in Ireland was severe; the population dropped from over 8
million before the Famine to 4.4 million in 1911. Outside mainstream nationalism, a series of violent rebellions by Irish
republicans took place in 1803, under Robert Emmet; in 1848 a rebellion by the Young Irelanders, most prominent
among them, Thomas Francis Meagher; and in 1867, another insurrection by the Irish Republican Brotherhood. All
failed, but physical force nationalism remained an undercurrent in the nineteenth century.In the 1870s the issue of Irish
self-government again became a major focus of debate under Protestant landowner, Charles Stewart Parnell and the
Home Rule League. British prime minister William Ewart Gladstone made two unsuccessful attempts to introduce Home
Rule in 1886 and 1893. The period from 1916-1921 was marked by political violence and upheaval, ending in the
partition of Ireland and independence for 26 of its 32 counties. Unwilling to negotiate any understanding with Britain
short of complete independence, the Irish Republican Army — the army of the newly declared Irish Republic — waged
a guerrilla war (the Irish War of Independence) from 1919 to 1921. In the course of the fighting and amid much
acrimony, the Fourth Government of Ireland Act 1920 separated the island into what the British government termed
"Northern Ireland" and "Southern Ireland". In mid-1921, the Irish and British governments signed a truce that halted the
war. In December 1921, representatives of both governments signed an Anglo-Irish Treaty. With the partition of Ireland
in 1922, 92.6% of the Free State's population were Catholic while 7.4% were Protestant.In 1937, a new Constitution of
Ireland proclaimed the state of Éire (or Ireland). In 1949 the state was formally declared the Republic of Ireland and it
left the British Commonwealth. Global economic problems in the 1970s, augmented by a set of misjudged economic
policies followed by governments, including that of Taoiseach Jack Lynch, caused the Irish economy to stagnate. The
'Troubles' in Northern Ireland discouraged foreign investment but Ireland has a robust modern economy today.
Ireland's
economy has evolved greatly, becoming more diverse and sophisticated than ever before by integrating itself into the
global economy. By the beginning of the 1990s Ireland had transformed itself into a modern industrial economy and
generated substantial national income that benefited the entire nation. Although dependence on agriculture still remained
high, Ireland's industrial economy produced sophisticated goods that rivalled international competition. Ireland's
international economic boom of the 1990s led to its being called the "Celtic Tiger." The Catholic Church, which once
exercised great power, found its influence on socio-political issues in Ireland much reduced. Irish bishops were no longer
able to advise and influence the public on how to exercise their political rights. Modern Ireland's detachment of the
Church from ordinary life can be explained by the increasing disinterest in Church doctrine by younger generations and
the questionable morality of the Church's representatives. A highly publicised case was that of Eamonn Casey, the
Bishop of Galway, who resigned abruptly in 1992 after it was revealed that he had had an affair with an American
woman and had fathered a child. Further controversies and scandals arose concerning paedophile and child-abusing
priests. As a result, many in the Irish public began to question the credibility and effectiveness of the Catholic Church. In
2011 Ireland closed its embassy at the Vatican, an apparent result of this growing trend.

Sources: Wikipedia: History of Ireland
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