Ireland. In March, Ireland was the first country in Europe to ban smoking in all workplaces. This meant that smoking was no longer allowed in pubs and restaurants, which sparked a lively debate.
According to CountryAAH, the total population in Ireland is 4,937,797 people in 2020. Economic growth slowed down and, above all, savings in health care led to criticism of the government. The largest government party Fianna Fáil returned big in the municipal elections on June 10, while the largest opposition parties Labor and Fine Gael made a decent election. Sinn Féin, the IRA’s political branch, managed to double its representation in municipalities. In addition, for the first time, the party won a mandate in the European Parliament elections held on the same day. Fianna Fáil lost a mandate in the EU elections.
In the referendum also held on June 10, nearly eight out of ten voters voted against all children born on the island of Ireland automatically having the right to Irish citizenship. When the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement was signed in 1998, this traditional right was incorporated into the Constitution. The government claimed that pregnant women from outside the EU traveled to I. to take advantage of this rule. The critics accused the government of trying to play on xenophobic lawsuits. From Catholic parties in Northern Ireland, objections were raised that the Irish government was unilaterally intending to amend the peace agreement.
Ireland held the Presidency of the EU in the spring. It was seen as a great success for Prime Minister Bertie Ahern when he succeeded in getting the Union governments to agree on a new constitution for the EU. In several countries, among them I., referendums on the new constitution would be held.
Tensions within the government coalition rose late last summer, when the market-liberal Progressive Democrats (PD) wanted to tighten more in the state budget than Fianna Fáil. A major government reform was made at the end of September. PD had to see its influence decrease. One of the biggest changes was that Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy was forced to leave the government to become a new EU commissioner.
Presidential elections would have been held October 22, but as no counter-candidates received enough support, Mary McAleese could remain as president for a second term.
Hogan resigns as Trade Commissioner
EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan is leaving the post following criticism of violating Ireland’s strict restrictions on covid-19. He himself claims that he has not violated any law, but that he should have been more careful and apologized again for this. This is happening at a sensitive time, due to the ongoing talks between the UK and the EU on its future relations after Brexit, where Hogan would have played an important role. Ireland hopes to be able to retain that position when a replacement for Hogan is appointed, but it is far from certain that it will be given as it is a coveted Commissioner post. Until further notice, Latvia’s former Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis will be in charge of EU trade issues.
Ireland’s EU Commissioner in stormy weather
Pressure on the resignation of EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan from Ireland is growing, especially as it emerges that he has repeatedly violated corona restrictions, not just by attending Parliament’s Golf Club dinner in Galway (see 21 August 2020). He has also not been quarantined when he returned to Ireland from Brussels. He himself emphasizes that he was tested negative for covid-19 on 5 August and that he was therefore not required to be quarantined. However, the three governing parties say they are not happy with his explanations. Sources tell the Irish Times that the government wants Hogan to resign, but that the issue will be decided by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Irish schools reopen
Most Irish schools are reopening today, having been closed since March 12 due to the corona pandemic. Not all students will return to the schools at the same time, however, some schools choose to have different school start days for different year groups. Several measures have also been taken to prevent the spread of infection.
Minister resigns after breach of covid restrictions
21th of August
Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary, from Fianna Fáil, resigns after criticizing attending a dinner hosted by Parliament’s golf club at a hotel in Galway, where the number of guests exceeded the number allowed by government authorities to combat the spread of the covid virus -19. The dinner was held the day after the government tightened restrictions. Senator Jerry Buttimer, from Fine Gael, is also stepping down as Vice President of the Senate. EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan, who was also present at the dinner, later apologized for this. He is also said to have been stopped by police a few days earlier when he was talking on a mobile phone while driving a car, which is forbidden. Several other high dignitaries attended the dinner. According to the tightening of the rules adopted a few days before, only a maximum of six people may gather indoors,
Ireland tightens coronary restrictions
The government is tightening restrictions on covid-19 again, as the number of new cases of covid-19 increases. Residents are urged to avoid public transport and new limits are set on how many people can gather at the same time. In the case of outdoor activities, a maximum of 15 people may gather, instead of the previous 200, in the case of indoor activities the limit is set at six instead of 50. Exceptions are made for religious ceremonies, including weddings. Shops, hotels and bars may continue to be open. Everyone over 70 is encouraged to use their judgment and not meet too many people. Earlier in August, a number of restrictions were reintroduced in the counties of Kildare, Laois and Offaly after new infection clusters were discovered there. Ireland, which has so far been able to limit the pandemic, is now one of the four European countries where the infection is increasing the most. On August 16, 200 new cases were reported in one day. Shortly before that, the country’s top tourism director Michael Cawley resigned after it was revealed that he had traveled to Italy on holiday, despite the authorities’ advice against unnecessary travel abroad.