Ireland. About 300 Protestants marched in February along
O'Connell Street in Dublin, past the post office where the
Easter riot against the British began in 1916. According to
CountryAAH, they were met
by counter-protesters, leading to the worst riots in the
capital in 25 years. Among the Protestant march participants
were relatives of people murdered by the Irish Republican
Army, the IRA, and members of the Orange Order.
Despite I's good economy, the coalition government
between Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats (PD)
seemed to lose support in the spring. Prime Minister Bertie
Ahern also received criticism from MPs within his own party
Fianna Fáil. Tensions were also strong within the PD, where
it became clear that party leader and health minister Mary
Harney had become increasingly difficult to come to terms
with her party mate Justice Minister Michael McDowell. In
September, McDowell was elected as the new PD leader and
thus got the post of Deputy Prime Minister of the
Government. During the fall, it was revealed that during his
time as finance minister, Ahern had borrowed large sums from
several businessmen in 1993-94 in connection with his
separation from his wife. The loans had not been reported
and the matter was sensitive as some of the lenders had been
given important assignments by the Ahern government. The
Prime Minister rejected all claims that it was a bribe and
now repaid the loans. He later apologized for his actions.
Ahern's party was shaken by a series of corruption scandals
in the 1990s. For a while it looked like the government was
going to crack, but after negotiations PD decided to stay in
the government coalition. Although a clear majority of Irish
thought Ahern had acted wrongly, his party performed
strongly in opinion polls in October.
In June 2005, Irish was recognized as the Union's 21st
official language. Until then, it had had sole status as a
treaty language. Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern
welcomed the decision expressing European recognition of the
Irish people's language.
In January 2006, Ireland once again complained to the UN
about the UK's lack of answers to pollution issues from the
British nuclear reprocessing plant in Sellafield, out to the
With a view to continuing as prime minister for a third
term, in June 2007 Bertie Ahern formed a coalition with the
progressive Democrats, independent candidates and the
Already in 2007, stories appeared in the media about
money donations from private companies to Bertie Ahern.
Later, the gifts were changed into loans. The scandal
stories did not immediately affect the outcome of the
parliamentary elections that year, with Fianna Fáil rising
from 41.5% to 41.6%. But as the stories wore on over the
fall, the party began to dive into the polls and in May
2008, Ahern resigned as prime minister and was replaced by
his party mate Brian Cowen.
In June 2008, Ireland rejected the EU's Lisbon Treaty
with 53.6% of the vote against 46.4%, throwing the Union
into deep political crisis. The EU does not recognize this
kind of wrong answer and the Irish were therefore again sent
out in a referendum in October 2009, in the light of the
economic crisis, they were threatened to vote yes. So did
67.1% of the Irish. They have now answered "right" and will
not be sent out in more polls.
2008 The Celtic tiger goes into crisis
The global economic crisis hit Ireland at full strength
in the fall of 2008, causing the government's popularity to
plummet. Popularity dropped from 46% in June to 18% in
November. In 2008, GDP fell by 1.7% and in 2009 by 7.1%.
Unemployment continued to rise through 2009, reaching 13.2%
in March 2010. Youth unemployment had then risen to 27.9%.
Both figures well above the EU average. In 2009, the
government's cutbacks triggered a host of demonstrations
among public and private employees, students and teachers.
A major cause of the deep crisis that hit the country was
its high leverage. The country's external debt in 2009 was
13 times higher than GDP. This was a world record. Private
household debt was 190% of annual income - the second
highest in the world. The high growth up to 2007 had
promoted over-consumption, over-investment and over-lending.
The consequence was a much deeper crisis as the global
economic crisis broke through. The housing bubble burst.
From the first quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of 2009,
house prices fell by 23% and mortgages fell by 73%. As in
Denmark, the government had to step in and nationalize
several banks to save them from collapse. Construction
The Irish state budget showed a deficit of 10% in 2009,
and this deficit increased in 2010 to the 14.3% record
within the EU and even greater than the Greek economy in the
spring of 2010.
A report from the emigration authorities in April 2009
showed that at least 102 women and girls had been brought to
Ireland over the previous 2 years as part of traffic. In
June, the government announced a 3-year plan to prevent and
combat traffic. The plan was criticized for continuing to
place victims of trafficking under inadequate conditions in
refugee centers, where they receive neither adequate
treatment nor risk further injury.