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Éire

Ireland

Type :  

  Summary  

Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. The population of the state was 4.58 million in 2011. It is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy, with an elected president serving as head of state. It is a member of the European Union. Ireland is a developed country with the seventh highest Human Development Index. The country is highly ranked for press freedom, economic freedom and democracy and political freedom. Ireland is also a member of the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations.

The modern Irish state was established in 1922 as the Irish Free State, a dominion within the British Empire, following the Anglo-Irish Treaty which brought an end to the Irish War of Independence. The partition of Ireland had already been provided for in previous British legislation in 1921 in response to opposition to Irish Home Rule or independence by Unionists, who formed a majority in the north-eastern part of the country. Six of the nine counties in the northern province of Ulster were established under that legislation as Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, with which the Irish state shares its only land border. The state is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the Celtic Sea to the south, St George's Channel to the south east, and the Irish Sea to the east.

In 1801, the kingdoms of Ireland and Great Britain, previously in a personal union, were united to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following a failed uprising in 1916, in 1919 Irish nationalist parliamentarians supporting the establishment of the Irish Republic formed a secessionist parliament and the Irish Republican Army launched a guerrilla war to realise independence. The Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1922 concluded that war and established the Irish Free State as a self-governing dominion within the British Commonwealth. Northern Ireland chose to remain as part of the United Kingdom. The independent state increased in sovereignty through the 1931 Statute of Westminster and the abdication crisis of 1936. A new constitution introduced in 1937 declared it a sovereign state named Ireland ("Éire"). The Republic of Ireland Act proclaimed Ireland a republic in 1949 by removing the remaining duties of the monarch. Ireland consequently withdrew from the British Commonwealth.

While it ranks among the wealthiest countries in the world today in terms of GDP, Ireland was one of the most impoverished countries in Europe while it was a part of the United Kingdom and for decades following independence. Economic protectionism was dismantled in the late 1950s and Ireland joined the European Economic Community in 1973. Economic liberalism from the late 1980s onwards resulted in rapid economic expansion, particularly from 1995 to 2007, which became known as the Celtic Tiger period. An unprecedented financial crisis beginning in 2008 ended this era of rapid economic growth.

  History  

 Home-rule movement
From the Act of Union on 1 January 1801 until 6 December 1922, the island of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. During the Great Famine, from 1845 to 1849, the island's population of over 8 million fell by 30%. One million Irish died of starvation and/or disease and another 1.5 million emigrated, particularly to the United States. This set the pattern of emigration for the century to come, resulting in a constant population decline up to the 1960s.

From 1874, particularly under Charles Stewart Parnell from 1880, the Irish Parliamentary Party moved to prominence through widespread agrarian agitation, via the Irish Land League, that won improved tenant land reforms in the form of the Irish Land Acts, and with its attempts to achieve Home Rule, via two unsuccessful Bills which would have granted Ireland limited national autonomy. These led to the "grass-roots" control of national affairs under the Local Government Act 1898 previously in the hands of landlord-dominated grand juries of the Protestant Ascendancy.

Home Rule seemed certain when the Parliament Act 1911 abolished the veto of the House of Lords, and John Redmond secured the Third Home Rule Act 1914. However, the Unionist movement had been growing since 1886 among Irish Protestants after the introduction of the first home rule bill, fearing discrimination and loss of economic and social privileges if Irish Catholics achieved real political power. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century unionism was particularly strong in parts of Ulster, where industrialisation was more common in contrast to the more agrarian rest of the island. It was feared that any tariff barriers would heavily affect that region. In addition, the Protestant population was more prominent in Ulster, with a majority in four counties. Under the leadership of the Dublin-born Sir Edward Carson of the Irish Unionist Party and the northerner Sir James Craig of the Ulster Unionist Party, unionists became strongly militant in order to oppose the Coercion of Ulster. After the Home Rule Bill passed parliament in May 1914, to avoid rebellion with Ulster, the British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith introduced an Amending Bill reluctantly conceded to by the Irish Party leadership. This provided for the temporary exclusion of Ulster from the workings of the bill for a trial period of six years, with an as yet undecided new set of measures to be introduced for the area to be temporarily excluded.

 Revolution
Though it received the Royal Assent and was placed on the statute books in 1914, the implementation of the Third Home Rule Act was suspended until after the Great War. For the prior reasons of ensuring the implementation of the Act at the end of the war, Redmond and his Irish National Volunteers supported the Allied cause, and 175,000 joined Irish regiments of the 10th , 16th , while Unionists joined the 36th divisions of the New British Army. In January 1919, after the December 1918 general election, 73 of Ireland's 106 MPs elected were Sinn Féin members who refused to take their seats in the British House of Commons. Instead, they set up an Irish parliament called Dáil Éireann. This Dáil in January 1919 issued a Declaration of Independence and proclaimed an Irish Republic. The Declaration was mainly a restatement of the 1916 Proclamation with the additional provision that Ireland was no longer a part of the United Kingdom. The new Irish Republic was recognised internationally only by the Russian Soviet Republic. The Republic's Aireacht sent a delegation under Ceann Comhairle Seán T. O'Kelly to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, but it was not admitted.

After the War of Independence and truce called in July 1921, representatives of the British government and the Irish treaty delegates, led by Arthur Griffith, Robert Barton and Michael Collins, negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty in London from 11 October to 6 December 1921. The Irish delegates set up headquarters at Hans Place in Knightsbridge and it was here in private discussions that the decision was taken on 5 December to recommend the Treaty to Dáil Éireann.
The Second Dáil Éireann narrowly ratified the Treaty.

In accordance with the Treaty, on 6 December 1922 the entire island of Ireland became a self-governing British dominion called the Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann). Under the Constitution of the Irish Free State, the Parliament of Northern Ireland had the option to leave the Irish Free State exactly one month later and return to the United Kingdom. During the intervening period, the powers of the Parliament of the Irish Free State and Executive Council of the Irish Free State did not extend to Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland exercised its right under the Treaty to opt out of the new dominion and rejoined the United Kingdom on 8 December 1922. It did so by making an Address to the King requesting, "that the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland." However, the Irish Free State was a constitutional monarchy over which the British monarch reigned. It had a Governor-General, a bicameral parliament, a cabinet called the "Executive Council" and a prime minister called the President of the Executive Council.

 Irish Civil War

The Irish Civil War was the consequence of the creation of the Irish Free State. Anti-Treaty forces, led by Éamon de Valera, objected to the fact that acceptance of the Treaty abolished the Irish Republic of 1919 to which they had sworn loyalty, arguing in the face of public support for the settlement that the "people have no right to do wrong". They objected most to the fact that the state would remain part of the British Commonwealth and that members of the Free State Parliament would have to swear, what the Anti-Treaty side saw as, an oath of fidelity to the British King. Pro-Treaty forces, led by Michael Collins, argued that the Treaty gave "not the ultimate freedom that all nations aspire to and develop, but the freedom to achieve it".

At the start of the war, the Irish Republican Army split into two opposing camps: a pro-treaty IRA and an anti-treaty IRA. The pro-Treaty IRA disbanded and joined the new Irish Army. However, through the lack of an effective command structure in the anti-Treaty IRA, and their defensive tactics throughout the war, Michael Collins and his pro-treaty forces were able to build up an army with many tens of thousands of World War I veterans from the 1922 disbanded Irish regiments of the British Army, capable of overwhelming the anti-Treatyists. British supplies of artillery, aircraft, machine-guns and ammunition boosted pro-treaty forces, and the threat of a return of Crown forces to the Free State removed any doubts about the necessity of enforcing the treaty. The lack of public support for the anti-treaty forces and the determination of the government to overcome the Irregulars contributed significantly to their defeat.

In the Northern Ireland question, Irish governments started to seek a peaceful reunification of Ireland and have usually cooperated with the British government in the violent conflict involving many paramilitaries and the British Army in Northern Ireland known as "The Troubles". A peace settlement for Northern Ireland, the Belfast Agreement, was approved in 1998 in referendums north and south of the border. As part of the peace settlement, Ireland dropped its territorial claim to Northern Ireland.

 1937 Constitution
On 29 December 1937, the new Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann) came into force, which replaced the Constitution of the Irish Free State and called the state Ireland, or Éire in Irish. The former Irish Free State government had taken steps to formally abolish the Office of Governor-General some months before the new Constitution came into force. Although the Constitution established the office of President of Ireland, the question over whether Ireland was a republic remained open. Diplomats were accreditated to the King, but the President exercised the internal functions of a Head of State. For instance, the President gave assent to new laws with his own authority, without reference to King George VI. George VI was only an "organ", that was provided for by statute law.

Ireland remained neutral during World War II, a period it described as The Emergency. The link with the monarchy ceased with the passage of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948, which came into force on 18 April 1949 and declared that the state was a republic. Later, the Crown of Ireland Act was formally repealed in Ireland by the Statute Law Revision (Pre-Union Irish Statutes) Act, 1962. Ireland was technically a member of the British Commonwealth after independence until the declaration of a republic on 18 April 1949. At the time, a declaration of a republic terminated Commonwealth membership. This rule was changed 10 days after Ireland declared itself a republic, with the London Declaration of 28 April 1949. Ireland did not reapply when the rules were altered to permit republics to join.

 Recent history

Ireland became a member of the United Nations in December 1955, after previously being denied membership due to its neutral stance during the Second World War and not supporting the Allied cause. At the time, joining the UN involved a commitment to using force to deter aggression by one state against another if the UN thought it was necessary.

Interest towards membership of the European Economic Community developed in Ireland during the 1950s, with consideration also given to membership of the European Free Trade Area. As the United Kingdom intended on EEC membership, Ireland formally applied for membership in July 1961 due to the substantial economic linkages with the United Kingdom. However, the founding EEC members remained skeptical regarding Ireland's economic capacity, neutrality, and unattractive protectionist policy. Many Irish economists and politicians realised that economic policy reform was necessary. The prospect of EEC membership became doubtful in 1963 when French President General Charles de Gaulle stated that France opposed Britain's accession, which ceased negotiations with all other candidate countries. However, in 1969 his successor, George Pompidou, was not opposed to British and Irish membership. Negotiations began and in 1972 the Treaty of Accession was signed. A referendum held in 1972 confirmed Ireland's entry, and finally succeeded in joining the EEC in 1973.

The economic crisis of the late 1970s was fueled by Fianna Fáil's budget, the abolition of the car tax, excessive borrowing, and global economic instability. There were significant policy changes from 1989 onwards, with economic reform, tax cuts, welfare reform, an increase in competition, and a ban on borrowing to fund current spending. This policy began in 1989–1992 by the Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrat government, and continued by the subsequent Fianna Fáil/Labour government and Fine Gael/Labour/Democratic Left government. Ireland became one of the world's fastest growing economies by the late 1990s in what was known as the Celtic Tiger period, which lasted until the global financial crisis of 2007–2010.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Irlanda", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.