Ireland (island)

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Flag of Ireland.png
Ireland arms.png
Flag Coat of Arms
Capital Dublin and Belfast
Government Republic and Parliamentary Democracy and Constitutional Monarchy
Language [[Irish and English]] (official)
President Michael D. Higgins
Prime minister Minister president Enda Kenny
Area 27,133 sq mi
Population 4,239,848 (2007)
GDP per capita $43,600 (2006)
Currency euro and Pound

Ireland (Irish: Éire) is a European island to the west of mainland Europe. It is separated from the mainland by several islands, including the Isle of Man, Great Britain and the Channel Islands.

In 1920, it was divided into two states:

  • Republic of Ireland (or simply Ireland) is an independent state occupying 83% of Ireland's landmass. The state's descriptive name since the Republic of Ireland Act 1948 is the Republic of Ireland (Irish: Poblacht na hÉireann). It consists of 26 of Ireland's 32 counties in the island's four provinces of Leinster, Munster, Connacht and Ulster. However, only 3 of the 9 counties in Ulster are under the control of the Republic of Ireland. According to the last census the Republic of Ireland has a population of 4,234,925 [1]
  • Northern Ireland is a constituent country of the United Kingdom which comprises six counties of the province of Ulster. Northern Ireland has a population of 1,685,267 (2002 est.) [2]


The Irish people are mainly of Celtic origin, with the country's only significant sized minority having descended from the Normans. English is the common language, but Irish (Gaelic/Gaeilge) is the first official language of the Republic of Ireland; Irish is taught in schools, appears on all official documents, and all road signs are also bilingual. In Northern Ireland, Irish has official recognition under the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Schools teaching through the medium of Irish known as Gaelscoileanna have experienced considerable growth in the past two decades in both parts of Ireland. Although initially reluctant, both the British state in Northern Ireland and the Irish state in the Republic of Ireland have funded this development following protests and requests from parents.

Irish writers such as Jonathan Swift, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Oliver Goldsmith, Edmund Burke, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, C. S. Lewis and Samuel Beckett have made a major contribution to world literature over the past 350 years.


The majority of the Irish population describe themselves as Roman Catholic (86.8%). Atheists and the non-religious account for 4.4% of the population [3] while membership of the Church of Ireland runs at about 3%, with most of the rest of the population belonging to other Protestant/Christian denominations. Southern Protestantism had been in decline since independence due to the ne temere decree (in which the Catholic church required children of mixed Catholic/Protestant marriages to be raised Catholic) [4] and emigration. However, it has experienced a revival of late due to immigration and some converts from Catholicism. There is a small Jewish community in Ireland. The Muslim community has grown recently due to immigration. The worship of nature and the pagan gods of ancient Ireland has seen a recent resurgence as well. [5]

The Republic has maintained a nominally Catholic ethos since independence. Abortion remains controversially illegal (although information on obtaining abortions in other jurisdictions is a constitutional entitlement, and many thousands of women travel to the UK for treatment [6] ). However, since the separation of church and state in the late eighties and a lessening of church influence on secular life, restrictions on the availability of contraception were removed in 1972; homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993; and the right to divorce was enshrined in the constitution in 1995. Equal Rights legislation guarantees homosexuals the same legal rights as heterosexuals, and the Irish parliament is currently debating the possible legalization of same-sex marriage.

Northern Ireland has a Protestant majority (53%), the main denominations being Presbyterian and Church of Ireland (Anglican/Episcopal). Roughly 44% of the population is Roman Catholic, with most of the remainder professing no religion.[7]

Government and Political Conditions

The Republic of Ireland is a sovereign, independent, democratic state with a parliamentary system of government. The president (or Uachtarán), who serves as head of state in a largely ceremonial role, is elected for a 7-year term and can be re-elected only once. The current president is Mary McAleese, who is serving her second term after having succeeded President Mary Robinson - the first instance worldwide where one woman has followed another as an elected head of state. In carrying out certain constitutional functions, the president is aided by the Council of State, an advisory body. On the Taoiseach's advice, the president also dissolves the Oireachtas (Parliament).

The Taoiseach (pronounced "TEE-shock") is elected by the Dáil (lower house of Parliament) as the leader of the political party, or coalition of parties, which wins the most seats in the national elections, held approximately every 5 years (unless called earlier). Executive power is vested in a cabinet whose ministers are nominated by the Taoiseach and approved by the Dáil.

The bicameral Oireachtas (Parliament) consists of Seanad Éireann (Senate) and the Dáil Éireann (House of Representatives). The Seanad is composed of 60 members—11 nominated by the Taoiseach, 6 elected by the national universities, and 43 elected from panels of candidates established on a vocational basis. The Seanad has the power to delay legislative proposals and is allowed 90 days to consider and amend bills sent to it by the Dail, which wields greater power in Parliament. The Dáil has 166 members popularly elected to a maximum term of 5 years under a complex system of proportional representation. A member of the Dáil is known as a Teachta Dála, or TD.

Judges are appointed by the president on nomination by the government and can be removed from office only for misbehavior or incapacity and then only by resolution of both houses of Parliament. The ultimate court of appeal is the Supreme Court, consisting of the chief justice and five other justices. The Supreme Court also can decide upon the constitutionality of legislative acts if the president asks for an opinion.

Local government is by elected county councils and—in the cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and Waterford—by county borough corporations. County councils/corporations in turn select city mayors. In practice, however, authority remains with the central government.

Irish politics remain dominated by the two political parties that grew out of Ireland's bitter 1922-23 civil war. Fianna Fáil was formed by those who opposed the 1921 treaty that partitioned the island. Although treaty opponents lost the civil war, Fianna Fáil soon became Ireland's largest political party. Fine Gael, representative of the pro-treaty forces, remains the country's second-largest party. Labour, The Green Party and Sinn Féin are the other significant parties.

The May 2007 national elections brought the Fianna Fáil party and its leader Bertie Ahern back to power in a coalition government for an unprecedented third five-year term. Coalition members joining Fianna Fáil were the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats. In recent months the Mahon Tribunal has been investigating allegations of corruption against Ahern when he was Minister of Finance in the early 1990s. However, although he survived a vote of no confidence on the issue in September 2007, increasing revelations about his finances led to his resignation in May 2007. The new Taoiseach is his former Tánaiste, Brian Cowen. The new minister for Foreign Affairs is Mícheál Martin, who is the minister who introduced Ireland's ban on smoking in public bars, the first such ban by any state in the European Union.

Local and European elections took place in June 2004 and saw gains for opposition parties. The election also featured a referendum on citizenship. Until that time, Ireland had granted citizenship on the basis of birth on Irish soil. Concerns about security and social welfare abuse prompted the government to seek to bring citizenship laws in line with the more restrictive policies prevalent in the rest of Europe, and the 2004 referendum measure passed by a wide majority. Now, persons with non-Irish parents can acquire Irish citizenship at birth only if at least one parent has been resident in Ireland for three years preceding the birth.

In 1993, homosexuals were given the right to engage in their activities freely in the country, without fear of legal action. However, the deeply conservative Catholic roots of the country have produced a strong cultural deterrent to homosexuality, so that impressionable children are not exposed to perversity.

Political Parties

  • Fianna Fáil: (Pronounced Fee-Na Fall which is Irish for 'Soldiers of Destiny'). Ireland's main political party, they do not class themselves as either left or right wing but rather as pragmatic centrists and republicans (In the sense of opposing the notion of formal classes in society, in particular the monarchy. Typically republicans in Ireland seek to unite Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland into a single Republic separate from the United Kingdom.). The party was founded as a splinter from Official Sinn Féin by Eamon de Valera. Traditionally the party of small farmers and the urban working class community, and generally conservative on social issues. Currently the largest party in the ruling coalition. Led by Brian Cowen, current Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland. Fianna Fáil generally opposes any action that would be seen to erode Ireland's neutrality and independence in foreign policy, including joining NATO.[8]
  • Fine Gael: (Pronounced Finna Gale, Irish for 'tribe of the Irish'). Ireland's second largest party. Fine Gael is traditionally socially and fiscally conservative. Under the leadership of Garret FitzGerald in the 1980s, the party embraced social democracy. Today the party likes to characterize itself as a party of the "progressive centre". Led by Enda Kenny. Many of the party's elected members would like to see Ireland join NATO and at least one has called for Ireland to rejoin the British Commonwealth.[9]
  • Labour Party: A social democratic left-wing party, similar to the British Labour Party under Tony Blair. Eamon Gilmore is the current leader of the Labour Party.[10]
  • Green Party: A left-wing party in favor of environmental protection, renewable energy and a stronger system of social security. John Gormley is the current leader.[11]
  • Sinn Féin: (Pronounced Shin Fane, Irish for 'Ourselves') Claims to be a remnant of Ireland's oldest political party, it is closely connected with the Provisional IRA, a paramilitary movement that sought the reunification of Ireland under a republican form of government free from British rule. As with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil before it- both parties which originated in Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Army's war of indepdencence against Britain- Sinn Féin has sought to achieve its aim through non-violent methods since the 1990s. Sinn Féin is, traditionally, strongly influenced by revolutionary socialist ideals, and are one of Ireland's more liberal parties on issues such as gay marriage and abortion. They organize in all 32 counties of Ireland, and are the largest nationalist party in Northern Ireland today. Led by Gerry Adams.[12]
  • Socialist Party: A left-wing Trotskyite party. They oppose capitalism and seek a United Socialist Ireland. Led by Joe Higgins.[13]

Northern Ireland

Consolidating the peace process in Northern Ireland and encouraging the full implementation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA) and the 2006 St. Andrews Agreement remain U.S. priorities in Ireland.

The conflict in Northern Ireland stems from a history of British rule, historical animosity between Catholics and Protestants, and the various armed and political attempts to unite Northern Ireland with the rest of the island. "Nationalist" and "Republican" groups seek a united Ireland, while "Unionists" and "Loyalists" want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom. After decades of violence by both Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries, most notably the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the British and Irish governments negotiated an IRA ceasefire in 1994, which was followed by the landmark U.S.-brokered Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in 1998.

The GFA established a power-sharing legislative assembly to serve as the autonomous local government of Northern Ireland. The 108-member Northern Ireland Assembly is led by a first minister and deputy first minister, one from each of the two communities, and a 10-minister executive. The GFA also provided for changes in both the British and Irish constitutions. Ireland ceded territorial claim to Northern Ireland, and the U.K. agreed that Northern Ireland could become part of Ireland if a majority (North and South) so voted in the future. Finally, the GFA provided the blueprint for "normalization," to include the eventual removal of British forces, devolution of police and justice functions, and guarantees of human rights and equal opportunity for all individuals. The agreement was approved in a 1998 referendum by 71% of Northern Ireland voters and 95% of Irish voters.

The major political parties in Northern Ireland are:

  • Democratic Unionist Party (DUP): Currently the largest unionist party in Northern Ireland. The DUP is a right-wing, ultra-conservative, hardline unionist party currently led by its founder, the Reverend Doctor Ian RK Paisley. The party has strong links with Rev. Doc. Paisley's Free Presbyterian Church.[14]
  • Sinn Féin Currently the largest nationalist party in Northern Ireland, they sit in the Irish parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly, but refuse to take their seats in the British Parliament in Westminster.
  • Ulster Unionist Party (UUP): A moderate right-wing party, which had strong links with the British Conservative Party. Nobel Peace Prize laureate David Trimble is a former leader. Currently in decline, with voters turning to the DUP. Currently led by Sir Reg Empey.[15]
  • Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP): A left-wing nationalist party. Nobel Peace Prize laureate John Hume is a former leader. The SDLP were the largest nationalist party until recently, when they were overtaken by Sinn Féin. Unlike SF, the SDLP have always advocated a non-violent and constitutional approach to achieving a United Ireland. Current leader is Mark Durkan.[16]
  • Alliance Party: The Alliance party identifies as neither unionist or nationalist and thus receives support from both communities. The current leader is David Ford.[17]

In October 2002, the British Government suspended (for the fourth time) the Assembly, following a breakdown in trust between Unionists and Republicans. The British and Irish Governments began discussions with the parties to try to resolve longstanding unresolved differences between the communities, and to secure a commitment from Sinn Féin that Republicans would divest themselves of all paramilitary activities and capabilities. Efforts to restore the political process in time to stage new elections to the Assembly in May 2003 broke down when the two governments concluded they did not have sufficient assurances from the Republicans. However, the governments proceeded to publish a joint declaration, mapping out the timetable to full implementation of the GFA. The governments also created an International Monitoring Commission to serve as a forum to hear complaints of alleged breaches of GFA commitments by the political parties and/or by British authorities. The four-member commission includes a representative from the United States.

Beginning in 2005, there were significant steps to reinvigorate the peace process. In July 2005, the IRA unilaterally announced that it would end its "armed struggle" and rely upon solely peaceful and democratic means to achieve its political objectives. The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) confirmed in September 2005 that the IRA had effectively put its weapons "beyond use." A series of reports by the International Monitoring Commission also noted significant progress by the IRA in its move away from criminality. Following upon this momentum, the British and Irish Governments in April 2006 launched a new negotiation process that envisioned the restoration of the Assembly and the selection of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister by year's end.

This process led to a summit at St. Andrews, Scotland, in October 2006, brokered by the then Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, which achieved agreement between Sinn Féin and the DUP on the process for restoring power to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Elections for the Assembly took place on March 7, 2007, which led to the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly on May 8, 2007. DUP leader Rev.Doc.Ian Paisley was elected First Minister, while Sinn Féin leader Martin McGuinness became Deputy First Minister. Two breakthroughs enabled this historic agreement to proceed: Sinn Féin's decision at an extraordinary Ard Fheis ("AR-desh," party conference) on January 28 to endorse policing and justice; and the DUP's decision to contest the March 7 election, signaling that the party would agree to share power with Sinn Féin in a restored Assembly. In the meantime, both the British and Irish Governments have offered significant new financial packages for the new Assembly.

The Special Envoy for the Northern Ireland Peace Process is Paula Dobriansky, who coordinates with the U.S. Missions in London, Belfast and Dublin to reinforce the views of the British and Irish Governments that the newly restored Northern Ireland Assembly must govern effectively in order to achieve economic growth and community reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

The United States also continues to provide funding ($13.5 million in 2007) for projects administered under the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), created in 1986 to generate economic opportunity and cross-community engagement in the border areas, both North and South. Since the IFI's establishment, the U.S. Government has contributed over $482 million, roughly half of total IFI funding.

Principal Government Officials

Northern Ireland

Foreign Relations

Ireland is a member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the European Union. Ireland has been an important contributor to numerous international peacekeeping missions, such as in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Liberia (UNIMIL), and the Balkans (KFOR and EUFOR). Ireland's overseas development assistance focuses on Sub-Saharan Africa and stands at 5 percent of GDP.


Ireland boasts a vibrant, globalized economy, with GDP per capita second only to Luxembourg's in the EU. The "Celtic Tiger" period of the mid to late 1990s saw several years of double-digit GDP growth, driven by a progressive industrial policy that boosted large-scale foreign direct investment and exports. GDP growth dipped during the immediate post-9/11 global economic slowdown, but has averaged roughly 5 percent yearly since 2004, the best performance for this period among the original EU 15 Member States. Since 2004, the Irish economy has generated roughly 90,000 new jobs annually, attracting over 200,000 foreign workers, mostly from the new EU Member states, in an unprecedented immigration influx. The construction sector has accounted for approximately one-quarter of these jobs, and economists caution that any slowdown in Ireland's vibrant housing market would have ramifications for continued GDP growth.

Economic and trade ties are an important facet of overall U.S.-Irish relations. In 2005, U.S. exports to Ireland were valued at $9 billion, while Irish exports to the U.S. totaled $28 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The range of U.S. exports includes electrical components and equipment, computers and peripherals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, and livestock feed. Irish exports to the United States represent approximately 20% of all Irish exports, and have roughly the same value as Irish exports to the UK (inclusive of Northern Ireland). Exports to the United States include alcoholic beverages, chemicals and related products, electronic data processing equipment, electrical machinery, textiles and clothing, and glassware. According to Ireland's Central Statistical Office, Irish exports to the United States from January to September 2006 rose by 7% compared to the same period in 2005, while Irish imports from the United States from January to September 2006 fell by 14% compared to the same period in 2005.

U.S. investment has been particularly important to the growth and modernization of Irish industry over the past 25 years, providing new technology, export capabilities, and employment opportunities. As of year-end 2006, the stock of U.S. foreign direct investment in Ireland stood at $84 billion, more than double the U.S. total for China and India combined ($31.2 billion). Currently, there are approximately 620 U.S. subsidiaries in Ireland, employing roughly 100,000 people and spanning activities from manufacturing of high-tech electronics, computer products, medical supplies, and pharmaceuticals to retailing, banking, finance, and other services. In more recent years, Ireland has also become an important research and development (R&D) center for U.S. firms in Europe.

Many U.S. businesses find Ireland an attractive location to manufacture for the EU market, since it is inside the EU customs area and uses the euro. In 2005, U.S. firms accounted for 61% of Ireland's total exports of euro 89 billion. Other reasons for Ireland's attractiveness include: a 12.5 percent corporate tax rate for domestic and foreign firms; the quality and flexibility of the English-speaking work force; cooperative labor relations; political stability; pro-business government policies; a transparent judicial system; strong intellectual property protection; and, the pulling power of existing companies operating successfully (a "clustering" effect). Factors that negatively affect Ireland's ability to attract investment include: increasing labor and energy costs (especially when compared to low-cost countries in Eastern Europe and Asia), skilled labor shortages, inadequate infrastructure (such as in the transportation and internet/broadband sectors), and price levels that are ranked among the highest in Europe.


For a more detailed treatment, see History of Ireland.

Early History

The earliest inhabitants—people of a mid-Stone Age culture—arrived about 6000 BC. About 4,000 years later, tribes from southern Europe arrived and established a high Neolithic culture, leaving behind gold ornaments and huge stone monuments. The Bronze Age people, who arrived during the next 1,000 years, produced elaborate gold and bronze ornaments and weapons.

The Iron Age arrived abruptly in the fourth century BC with the invasion of the Celts, a tall, energetic people who had spread across Europe and Great Britain in the preceding centuries. The Celts, or Gaels, and their more numerous predecessors divided into five kingdoms in which, despite constant strife, a rich culture flourished.

Early Christian Ireland

The coming of Christianity from across the Irish Sea brought major changes and civilizing influences. Ireland's first bishop, Palladius, arrived from France around 431 AD, evidence that Christianity had already arrived due to trading or other outside contacts. St. Patrick's mission most likely took place later, in the mid-to-late 5th century AD. Modern scholarship has discovered that many dates and facts attributed previously to Saint Patrick were likely the work of Palladius, and that the two had become blended into a single figure in the historical record.

The pagan druid tradition collapsed before the spread of the new faith, and Irish scholars excelled in the study of Latin learning and Christian theology in the monasteries that flourished. Missionaries went forth from Ireland to England and the continent, spreading news of the flowering of learning, and scholars from other nations came to Irish monasteries. The excellence and isolation of these monasteries helped preserve Latin and Greek learning during the Dark Ages. The arts of manuscript illumination, metalworking, and sculpture flourished and produced such treasures as the Book of Kells, ornate jewelry, and the many carved stone crosses that dot the island.

Medieval Ireland

At the end of the 8th Century, Norse and Danish raiders (commonly called Vikings) began to appear on Ireland's shores (as they were appearing in much of Europe at the same time). Several waves of attacks followed. The first were small, quick raids by small groups of boats on outlying areas (coastal settlements, islands off the coast, etc.). Later raiding parties grew much larger, and began making inroads into the island. Eventually, the raiders began to build longphorts in Ireland, which were the first towns. Among these were Dublin, Waterford, and Wexford. The Vikings eventually became integrated into Irish politics and culture, and had major effects on many aspects of Irish life.

In the 12th century, Norman lords invaded Ireland at the behest of Diarmait MacMurrough who wanted their help to regain land that he had lost. While they quickly spread across most of the island, their conquest was incomplete. The Native Irish later began to retake much of the land that was lost and many Normans began to adopt Gaelic culture, which made the island very difficult to govern from England. The English were unable to bring the entire island under their control until the 17th century, after the defeat of the Irish in the Nine Years' War. King James I of England (King James VI of Scotland) decided to plant Ulster, in the North of Ireland, with English and Scottish Protestant settlers, in an attempt to prevent future rebellions.[18]

Modern Ireland

Irish countryside.jpg

In 1690, the Catholic King James II and his Irish allies were defeated by the Protestant William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne. This defeat ushered in an era of Protestant dominance in Ireland. A series of regulations limiting the status of the Catholic majority were passed between 1691 and 1760, known as the Penal Laws. These laws also discriminated against Presbyterians and other dissenting Protestants, who along with Catholics were forced to pay tithes to the Anglican Church.[19][20]

In 1800 the Irish Parliament passed the Act of Union with Great Britain, and Ireland was an official part of the United Kingdom until 1921. Religious freedom, outlawed in the 18th century, was restored in 1829, but this victory for the Irish Catholic majority was overshadowed by a severe economic depression and the great famine from 1846-48 when the potato crop failed. Millions died, and the millions that emigrated spawned the first mass wave of Irish emigration to the United States. A decade later, in 1858, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB—also known as the Fenians) was founded as a secret society dedicated to armed rebellion against the British. An aboveground political counterpart, the Home Rule Movement, was created in 1874, advocating constitutional change for independence.

Galvanized by the leadership of Charles Stewart Parnell, the party was able to force British governments after 1885 to introduce several home rule bills. The turn of the century witnessed a surge of interest in Irish nationalism, including the founding of Sinn Féin ("Ourselves Alone") as an open political movement.

Nationalism was and is a potent populist force in Irish politics. A home rule bill passed in 1914, but its implementation was suspended until war in Europe ended. Believing the mantra: "England's problem is Ireland's opportunity," and tapping into a mood of Gaelic revivalism, Padraic Pearse and James Connolly led the unsuccessful Easter Rising of 1916. Pearse and the other 1916 leaders declared an independent Irish republic, but a lack of popular support doomed the rebellion, which lasted a week and resulted in the British military destroying large portions of Dublin. The decision by the British military government to execute the leaders of the rebellion, coupled with the British Government's threat of conscripting the Irish to fight in the Great War, alienated public opinion and produced massive support for Sinn Féin in the 1918 general election. Under the leadership of Eamon de Valera, the elected Sinn Féin deputies constituted themselves as the first Dail. Tensions only increased: British attempts to smash Sinn Féin ignited the Irish War of Independence of 1919–1921.

The end of the war brought the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921, which established the Irish Free State of 26 counties within the British Commonwealth and recognized the partition of the island into Ireland and Northern Ireland, though supposedly as a temporary measure. The four predominantly unionist counties (Antrim, Down, Armagh and Derry/Londonderry (disputed)) plus the two equally unionist/nationalist counties (Tyrone and Fermanagh) of northeast Ulster—Northern Ireland—remained a part of the United Kingdom with limited self-government. A significant Irish minority repudiated the treaty settlement because of the continuance of subordinate ties to the British monarch and the partition of the island. This opposition led to further hostilities—the Irish Civil War (1922–23), which was won by the pro-treaty forces.

In 1932, Eamon de Valera, the political leader of the forces initially opposed to the treaty, became Prime Minister, and a new Irish constitution was enacted in 1937. The last British military bases were soon withdrawn, and the ports were returned to Irish control. Ireland was neutral in World War II. The government formally declared Ireland a republic in 1948; however, it does not normally use the term "Republic of Ireland," which tacitly acknowledges the partition, but refers to the country simply as "Ireland."

Premiers of the Republic of Ireland

President of the Executive Council

  • William Thomas Cosgrave (Cummann na nGaedheal): 1922–1932.
  • Éamon de Valera (Fianna Fáil): 1932-1937

An Taoiseach

  • Éamon de Valera (Fianna Fáil): 1937–1948, 1951–1954, 1957–1959.
  • John A.Costello (Fine Gael): 1948–1951, 1954–1957.
  • Seán Lemass (Fianna Fáil): 1959–1966.
  • Jack Lynch (Fianna Fáil): 1966–1973.
  • Liam Cosgrave (Fine Gael): 1973–1977.
  • Jack Lynch (Fianna Fáil): 1977–1979.
  • Charles Haughey (Fianna Fáil): 1979–1981, March 1982 - December 82 and March 1987 - February 1992.
  • Garret FitzGerald (Fine Gael): 30 June 1981- 9 March 1982 and 14 December 1982 - 10 March 1987.
  • Albert Reynolds (Fianna Fáil): February 1992 – 1994.
  • John Bruton (Fine Gael): 1994–1997.
  • Bertie Ahern (Fianna Fáil): 1997–2008.
  • Brian Cowen (Fianna Fáil): 2008- [21]

Premiers of Northern Ireland

Prime Minister of Northern Ireland (1921-1972)

  • Government of Ireland Act
  • Sir James Craig (UUP): 1921-1940
  • John Miller Andrews (UUP): 1940-1943
  • Sir Basil Brooke (UUP): 1943-1963
  • Terence O'Neill (UUP): 1963-1969
  • Brian Faulkner (UUP): 1969-1972
  • Post abolished in 1972.

Chief Executive of Northern Ireland (1973–1974)

  • Sunningdale Agreement
  • Brian Faulkner (UUP) 1973–1974
  • Post abolished in 1972.

First Minister of Northern Ireland (1998–present)

  • Belfast Agreement
  • David Trimble (UUP) 1998-July 2001, November 2001-October 2002
  • Sir Reg Empey (UUP) (Acting): July 2001-October 2001
  • Executive abolished
  • St Andrews Agreement
  • Rev Dr Ian Paisley (DUP)/Martin McGuinness (Sinn Féin) 2007–present