Ireland Democracy and Rights

Democracy and rights

Abbreviated as IRL by Abbreviationfinder, 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.

  • Countryaah: 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 and languages).

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 organizations.

There is a legal opportunity for a media company to apologize for publishing without having to admit guilty of slander.

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 abolished.

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 financial difficulties.


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 judges.

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 usually high.

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 prisoners.

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 anti-terrorism legislation.

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)).

Ireland Crime Rate & Statistics



New Government Coalition

June 14

Bertie Ahern and Fianna Fáil form a new government together with the Progressive Democrats (PD) and the Green Party. Brian Cowen is appointed Finance Minister.


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.