Natural resources and energy
Ireland has large resources of zinc, and
three major zinc mines are found on the island. There
are also deposits of gold, plaster, limestone and
dolomite. Some oil and gas discoveries have also been
made in recent years, but no recovery has begun.
Oil was found in the sea at Barryroe in 2012, south
of Cork, and can contain deposits of up to 1.6 billion
barrels. Earlier oil discoveries off the south coast
have proved too costly and difficult to exploit. New gas
discoveries made in the sea west of Ireland have not yet
Major exports by Ireland with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
In 2009, oil and gas accounted for 75 percent of
energy demand. So far, all oil, especially from Norway,
is imported. Gas is imported from the North Sea via a
pipeline from Scotland. For a long time, the need for
oil increased at a rapid pace, but in recent years
consumption has decreased somewhat, partly because of
reduced travel, less need for freight traffic on the
roads and that more people have bought fuel-efficient
Energy is also extracted from coal, hydropower and
peat from the island's many mosses. However, the use of
coal and peat has decreased in recent years, while
investments have been made in wind power.
One problem is that the peat bogs are shrinking due
to climate change, which is particularly serious as they
also play an important role in binding carbon dioxide.
Efforts are also being made to reduce the use of peat to
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A dispute with the UK is Sellafield, a spent nuclear
fuel reprocessing plant on the British side of the Irish
Sea. Ireland, together with Norway and Denmark, has
pressed for the British to close Sellafield after
reports of radioactive emissions.
Ireland signed the Kyoto Agreement in 1997, which
aims to limit greenhouse gas emissions. For the period
2008 to 2012, Ireland had promised to reduce its
emissions by 13 percent compared to the 1990 level,
something the country seemed to be doing. However,
Ireland appeared to have a harder time meeting EU
climate targets to reduce emissions by 20 percent by
At the Paris 2015 climate summit, Ireland negotiated
as part of the EU, and pledged, among other things, not
to allow global temperatures to exceed 2 degrees. This
will be done, among other things, by reducing greenhouse
gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 compared with the
1990 level. Ireland pledged to reduce emissions by 20
per cent by 2020, but by the fall of 2019 it was clear
that it would not be able to do so, thus risking being
fined to the EU.
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
2,855 kg of oil equivalent (2015)
Electricity consumption per person
5722 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
34 066 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
7.4 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
9.1 percent (2015)
More and more people are applying for Irish passports
Ireland issues nearly 780,000 new passports during the year. This is an
increase of 6 percent compared to 2016, and 15 percent compared with the
previous year. Part of the increase is due to an increasing number of Brits with
Irish roots applying for an Irish passport (nothing is said, however).
Ireland repays crisis loans
The Irish government has now repaid the crisis loans received from the IMF,
EU, Denmark and Sweden in 2010. The Ministry of Finance hopes that by paying off
its debts (just over EUR 5 billion) it will be able to save EUR 150 million in
advance by taking new loans at lower interest rates.
Strong economic growth
The Irish economy continues to grow. When the figures for the third quarter
of the year are presented, Ireland's GDP has grown by over 10 percent, since
the same time the year before. But just like 2015, the figure was considered
inflated (it was also pointed out that the situation was difficult to
interpret). According to the Irish statistical authority CSO, industrial
production had increased by just over 5 percent and the information and
communication sector by almost 6 percent. Credit rating agency Fitch also
raises Ireland's credit rating from A + to A.
Committee proposes liberal abortion law
13th of December
A parliamentary committee recommends that a referendum on abortion be held in
2018. The Committee proposes to abolish the eighth amendment to the
Constitution, to allow abortion if a woman's life or mental and physical health
is in danger, and to introduce free abortion until 12: e week of pregnancy.
According to the proposal, abortion should also be allowed if the fetus is so
badly damaged that it cannot survive. There is no consensus within the committee
on the various proposals, but there is a clear majority for a more liberal line.
The government does not have to follow the committee's proposals when it
formulates its alternatives in a referendum. If it is to be held in May or June,
a bill must be ready by mid-February.
Breakthrough in Brexit negotiations
British Prime Minister Theresa May and EU Commission President Jean-Claude
Juncker announce a breakthrough in Brexit negotiations. The parties have now
agreed that there should be no "hard border" between Northern Ireland and
Ireland. Prime Minister Varadkar says he is pleased to have reached "a
bullet-proof deal" containing all the elements required by the Irish government.
Exactly what the settlement looks like is not known. Arlene Foster, leader of
the DUP, who has opposed all special solutions for Northern Ireland, expresses
his appreciation that there will be no new "red border" in the sea between
Northern Ireland and the UK mainland, however, exceptions can be made if the
Northern Ireland Parliament, Stormont, agree to it. May also promises to follow
the agreements made in the 1998 Northern Ireland Peace Agreement.
Ireland is starting to collect tax from Apple
In the first quarter of 2018, Apple will start paying the $ 13 billion the
company owes, according to the European Commission, to the Irish state. The
European Commission has ordered Apple to pay the money, as the tax relief
granted to the technology company in Ireland was not allowed under EU rules. In
practice, the company had only paid a corporate tax of 1 percent. In 2016, the
European Commission ruled that Ireland must collect tax money. They will, for
the time being, be paid into a special account, where they will be kept while
Ireland appeals the Commission's decision to the European Court of Justice.
Government crisis averted - Deputy Prime Minister resigns
Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald submits his resignation on the
grounds that it is for the good of the nation and to avoid a new election that
no one wants. However, she insists that she has done no wrong and that she is
confident that she will be released by the tribunal led by Judge Peter
Charleton, who will present her report in January. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar
says he has reluctantly accepted her farewell application. Fitzgerald's
departure is also a success for Fianna Fáil's leader Micheál Martin.
Calls are ongoing to avoid new elections
Talks are underway between Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil's
leader Micheál Martin to resolve the political crisis. The discussions are
described as constructive. The Irish public seems to prefer to avoid a fresh
election, which is unlikely to change much in the strength of the parties.
However, new revelations come about that Deputy Prime Minister Frances
Fitzgerald knew that corruption occurred within the police force a year earlier
than she herself has said. She must have refrained from taking action against
this, while at the same time defending the whistleblower Maurice McCabe
outwardly. An Irish government crisis could hamper Brexit negotiations between
the EU and the UK, where the issue of the border between Ireland and Northern
Ireland has proved difficult. If no progress is made, Ireland has threatened to
veto its deliberations on trade issues. Now Foreign Minister Simon Coveney says
it will not be needed as the other EU countries are behind the Irish line. At
the same time, British Trade Minister Liam Fox emphasizes that the British will
not resolve the border issue until they have been given a clearance for trade
Government crisis threatens
The Irish minority government gets into crisis when the biggest opposition
party Fianna Fáil threatens with a vote of no confidencein Parliament. The day
before, Sinn Fein has requested one. The reason is that both parties lack
confidence in Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who was involved in a
controversy surrounding a so-called whistleblower within the police force during
her time as Minister of Justice. The government is dependent on parliamentary
support from Fianna Fáil. The ruling party Fine Gael expresses full confidence
in Fitzgerald, who is accused by the opposition of having prior information that
the lawyers who held public hearings with whistleblower Maurice McCabe would try
to discredit him with false allegations of sexual abuse of children, and that
Fitzgerald did not act for to prevent this (see also February 2017).
"No trade agreement with the British without a border issue"
Prime Minister Leo Varadkar is trying to increase pressure on the British
government in the Brexit negotiations, saying that no trade deals should be made
before the parties could agree on how to avoid a "hard" border between Ireland
and Northern Ireland. A similar message was made earlier by Ireland's Foreign
Minister Simon Coveney when he met his British colleague Boris Johnson.
Gerry Adams retires as Sinn Féin leader 2018
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams announces that he plans to step down as party
leader next year. He also announces that he does not intend to run for
re-election to the Irish Parliament. Adams has played an important role in the
Northern Ireland peace process. It is widely believed that he has played a
leading role in the Irish Republican Army (IRA), something he himself denies.
Ireland will vote for abortion 2018
The Irish government says it will allow the Irish to vote on the country's
abortion laws 2018, probably in May or June. It is about whether Ireland should
abolish the ban on abortion, which has been enshrined in the constitution since
1983 (the so-called Eighth Supplement).
Surplus in the state budget
The Irish state bow is at a plus for the first six months of the year. This
is happening, according to Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, even though tax
revenues have fallen somewhat since spending is also lower than planned.
Varadkar becomes new prime minister
Parliament appoints Leo Varadkar from Fine Gael as new Prime Minister after
Enda Kenny. He wins the vote by 57 votes, 50 members vote against and 47
abstentions. The 38-year-old Varadkar thus becomes Ireland's youngest head of
government of all time. Varadkar is re-furnishing in the government. He appoints
Simon Coveney, his opponent in the party leadership, as Foreign Minister. He
takes over after Charlie Flanagan who is given responsibility for the Justice
Department. New Finance Minister becomes Paschal Donohoe. The new Prime Minister
receives criticism for the fact that so few women are included in higher
Leo Varadkar elected new leader of Fine Gael
Leo Varadkar, who previously held several ministerial posts, is elected new
leader of Fine Gael. He defeats counter candidate Simon Coveney by securing the
support of a majority of Fine Gael's MPs. However, most of the party's grass
roots vote for Coveney. ahead of the party leadership election, Varadkar says he
wants to represent "those who get up early in the mornings". The 38-year-old
Varadkar will take over the post of Prime Minister (Taoiseach) after Enda Kenny.
The new party leader is openly gay and his father immigrated to Ireland from
India. Varadkar, who wins by a clear margin, belongs to the party's right wing.
He is described as an unusually outspoken person for being an Irish politician.
Only Kenny resigns as party leader
Only Kenny resigns as leader of Fine Gael. He had already announced his
departure in March. He remains as acting prime minister until his replacement is
appointed in June.
Citizens' panel wants to liberalize abortion legislation
The Citizens' Panel of 99 randomly elected citizens who were appointed by
Parliament in the fall of 2016 voted with a clear majority to allow Ireland to
introduce free abortion until the twelfth week of pregnancy (64 percent voted
for, 36 percent against). An even greater proportion of panelists want to allow
abortion if the woman becomes pregnant after a rape, if the fetus is severely
malformed or if the pregnancy poses a serious risk to the woman's physical or
mental health. A majority of the panel wants the addition to the constitution
that gives the unborn child the same right to life as the pregnant woman. If the
government follows the panel's recommendations, a referendum will be held.
Police scandal is being investigated
The government decides that the police scandal that looks to bring Prime
Minister Kenny down should be investigated by an independent commission. The
scandal is about the police being charged with a dirty-throwing campaign against
a policeman who revealed corruption within the police force, where rumors must
have spread that he was suspected of sexual abuse.
The government survives distrust
Sinn Fein makes a statement of disbelief against the government, which it
accuses of trying to conceal the riots in a police scandal. The government
survives the vote with 57 votes in favor and 52 against. 44 members cast their
votes. At the same time, pressure is mounting that Prime Minister Enda Kenny,
who is believed to have failed the deal, must hand over the baton to a new
force. Possible successors are mentioned Housing Minister Simon Coveney and
Social Minister Leo Varadkar.