Democracy and rights
Ireland is a functioning democracy, where
civil liberties and rights are usually respected. The
country has been shaken since the 1990s by a series of
corruption scandals with ramifications into politics.
Political elections are conducted according to
democratic rules of the game and citizens can freely
form political parties (see Political system). Some
criticism has been directed at Ireland not having an
election commission and failing in the way the elections
are organized. In 2018, plans were set up to set up an
election commission with the task of monitoring upcoming
elections and referendums. The idea is that it will be
able to begin its work before the parliamentary
elections in 2021.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Ireland, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
Women are under-represented in politics. In 2011, 15
percent of the members of the Chamber of Deputies were
women. In 2016, the proportion had increased to just
over 22 percent. In the Senate, the proportion of women
is higher: 32 percent. Two presidents have been women:
Mary Robinson (1990–1996) and Mary McAleese (1996–2011).
In 2016, a new law came into force that states that
at least 30 percent of a party's candidates must be men
or women. In 2023, the statutory sex ratio will be
increased to 40 percent. Those parties that do not meet
this risk losing portions of their party support.
Long-term plans are in place to abolish a section of
the Constitution that states that women should avoid
working because they must take responsibility for the
home (see Calendar).
The previously so strongly conservative Irish society
has been liberalized in recent years. Nowadays, same-sex
marriage as well as divorce and abortion are allowed in
Ireland. Homosexuality was decriminalized as late as
1993 (see Social conditions).
As society changes, the Catholic Church's influence
in society has diminished, not least in the light of
revelations about how the Church handled allegations
against priests and others within the Church who
sexually abused children, or how women were forced to
adopt their children or be exploited for forced labor.
Religion). In the fall of 2018, the government decided
to do a full excavation of the mass graves found at a
mother's home in Tuam in County Galway. Among other
things, a state commission has concluded that at least
796 children died at the maternity home between 1925 and
1961 (see Calendar).
There is a small group of so-called travelers who are
often discriminated against. Ireland has also been
criticized for what the asylum process looks like and
for many asylum seekers being forced to live in
substandard places for a long time (see also Population
Freedom of expression and media
Freedom of the press prevails, but strict advocacy
laws set a limit to what can be written or said. A ban
on blasphemy that was enshrined in the constitution was
abolished in the fall of 2018 when a clear majority of
voters voted for it. Until 2009, when a new law against
defamation was adopted, there was no room to prosecute.
This was brought to light in 2015 when a private
individual reported police to British actor Stephen Fry
for a statement he had made about God in an interview in
Irish media. However, the criminal investigation was
shut down in 2017 after police determined that not
enough people had been upset by his statements. However,
the law section drew sharp criticism from press freedom
There is a legal opportunity for a media company to
apologize for publishing without having to admit guilty
The state censorship authority's right to review
books and newspapers has also drawn criticism. It is now
uncommon for a publication to be banned, but in 2016,
for the first time in 18 years, a book describing rape
against children was banned.
Since 2014, there has been a new law, the
Freedom of Information Act, which
allows the public to gain access to, among other things,
the activities of government, government, government
companies and government-funded universities. However,
there are some exceptions when it comes to, for example,
the police force. The fee of 15 euros that the person
who sought information previously paid has been
In 2010, the Supreme Court upheld journalists' right
to source protection, after some journalists had
appealed to a lower court decision that they must
disclose their sources in connection with publication
about former Prime Minister Bertie Ahern's finances.
A law from 2005 stipulates that police officers who
speak to the media without their superiors' consent run
the risk of being sentenced to prison, fines or losing
their jobs. After a legislative change in 2015, it is
possible for the police authority to investigate whether
media used by police as sources.
In 2008, a press ombudsman took on the task of
monitoring press ethical issues. The business is
financed by the media industry.
Ireland ranked 2020 as number 13 out of 180 countries
on Reporters Without Borders Index of Press Freedom in
the World (for list, see here).
Reduced revenue in the advertising market has hit
hard on many Irish newspapers, which at the same time
face strong competition from British newspapers, several
of which publish special editions with Irish material,
as well as from social media. Independent News and Media
(INM), which controls a large part of the newspaper
market in Ireland, is about to be taken over by a
Belgian media company Mediahuis, after a few years of
From the late 1990s, a series of corruption scandals
have been revealed with ramifications into politics.
Several tribunals were established by Parliament in 1997
to investigate allegations of bribery and tax evasion
among senior politicians in the 1980s and 1990s.
However, such tribunals did not have the right to pass a
judgment, but a possible prosecution would be brought
within the ordinary judicial system. In a 2018 report,
Ireland faced criticism from the Council of Europe's
unit for combating corruption, Greco, for up to now it
had only implemented three of its eleven recommendations
for anti-corruption work in Parliament, prosecutors and
In a 2006 report, the so-called Moriarty
tribunal ruled that former Prime Minister
Charles Haughey (see Modern History) had received over £
11 million in bribes from 1979 to 1996. It was revealed
that he had lived a luxury life while undergoing a
severe economic crisis in the 1980s. Haughey, who died
in 2006, had denied in his testimony before the tribunal
that there was something in the corruption charges. No
criticism was directed at Bertie Ahern, who was Finance
Minister under Haughey and who wrote checks without
filling in any amounts.
In March 2012, the so-called Mahon tribunal
came up with its final report, stating that
corruption had been an "ingrained and systematic" part
of politics during the 1980s and 1990s. The tribunal
further argued that Ahern, who was Ireland's prime
minister from 1997 to 2008, had not adhered to the truth
when reporting on his private affairs. However, it did
not go so far as to call him corrupt. Ahern regretted
not being guilty of corruption. He still chose to leave
his party Fianna Fáil.
In the spring of 2012, Fianna Fáil's leader Micheál
Martin compiled a list of six people to be excluded from
the party, however, they chose to leave it themselves.
In addition to Ahern, the former EU Commissioner Pádraig
Flynn was also mentioned.
According to the organization Transparency
International, in both 2018 and 2019 Ireland ranked 18
out of 180 countries (for list see here). According to a
survey conducted by the EU in 2017, the Irish were
distinguished by the fact that 51 percent of those
surveyed believed that there was corruption in the
banking system, compared to a 33 percent average for
the whole EU. The proportion was even higher when it
came to politicians, 53 percent, but the EU average is
at 55 percent.
Judicial system and legal security
Ireland has an independent judiciary, which is also
guaranteed by the Constitution. Legal security is
In recent years, the police have been hit by several
corruption scandals. One of the most serious was about
allegations that the police were behind a campaign of
dirt against a policeman who revealed irregularities
within the police force. In 2013, the then chief of
police resigned after revealing that the police were
secretly recording conversations between suspects and
their defense attorneys. Four years later, the Deputy
Prime Minister was forced to resign because of criticism
of how she handled the deal (see Calendar).
The death penalty was abolished in 1990, but no one
has been executed in Ireland since 1954.
Ireland has repeatedly been criticized for
overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions and widespread
drug abuse in prisons. In some places, the police and
prison guards are accused of taking violence against the
The age of criminal justice was increased in 2006
from seven years to twelve years. Exceptions can be made
for children of ten or eleven years who commit serious
crimes such as murder, murder or rape.
After a bombing in Omagh in Northern Ireland in 1998,
when 29 people were killed, Ireland tightened its
There are a large number of NGOs, many of which
protect human rights (including the Irish Human Rights
and Equality Commission (IHREC) and the Irish Council
for Civil Liberties (ICCL)).
New Government Coalition
Bertie Ahern and Fianna Fáil form a new government together with the
Progressive Democrats (PD) and the Green Party. Brian Cowen is appointed Finance
Fianna Fáil wins the selection
24th of May
Fianna Fáil becomes the largest party in the parliamentary elections, with 77
seats, followed by Fine Gael, who gets 51 seats. Fianna Fáil's coalition partner
Progressive Democrats (PD) wins only 2 seats. The Labor Party and Sinn Féin also
lose a mandate and end on 20 or 4 respects. The Green Party retains its 6 seats.