The Full Wiki

Foreign relations of the Republic of Ireland: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Republic of Ireland
Coat of arms of Ireland

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
the Republic of Ireland

Other countries · Atlas
Politics portal

The foreign relations of Ireland are substantially influenced by its membership of the European Union, although bilateral relations with the United States and United Kingdom are also important to the country. It is one of the group of smaller nations in the EU, and has traditionally followed a non-aligned foreign policy.

Ireland tends towards independence in foreign policy, thus it is not a member of NATO and has a longstanding policy of military neutrality. This policy has helped the Irish Defence Forces to be successful in their contributions to UN peace-keeping missions[citation needed] since 1960 (in the Congo Crisis) and subsequently in Cyprus, Lebanon and Bosnia and Herzegovina.


United States

The Irish Embassy in Washington D.C..
U.S. president George W. Bush accepts a bowl of shamrock from Taoiseach Bertie Ahern during a ceremony celebrating St. Patrick's Day in 2005.

The use of Shannon Airport as a stop-over point for US forces en-route to Iraq has caused domestic controversy. Opponents of this policy brought an unsuccessful High Court case against the government in 2003, arguing that this use of Irish airspace violated Irish neutrality.[1] Foreign direct investment by U.S. companies is vital to the Irish economy — the U.S. is Ireland's largest source of foreign investment[citation needed], and exports to the U.S. amounted to 10% of GDP in 2005.[2] The large Irish-American population in the United States strengthens ties between the two countries.

The U.S. government has appointed a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland to help with the Northern Ireland peace process. As of 2006, this position is held by Paula Dobriansk. Areas of interest between the U.S. and Ireland include the Northern Ireland peace process, the status of Irish illegal immigrants in the U.S.[3] and investment by U.S. companies in Ireland.

As of 2010, Michael Collins was the Irish ambassador to the United States, and Dan Rooney was the U.S. ambassador to Ireland.

See also: Embassy of the United States in Dublin, United States Ambassador to Ireland

United Kingdom

Since 1937 Ireland had been involved in a dispute with the United Kingdom over the status of Northern Ireland. Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Ireland formerly claimed Northern Ireland as a part of the "national territory", though in practice the Irish government did recognise the UK's jurisdiction over the region. From the onset of the Troubles in 1969, the two governments sought to bring the violence to an end. The Sunningdale Agreement of 1973 and the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 were important steps in this process. In 1998, both states signed the Belfast Agreement and now co-operate closely to find a solution to the region's problems. Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Ireland were amended as part of this agreement, the territorial claim being replaced with a statement of aspiration to unite the people of the island of Ireland. As part of the Belfast Agreement, the states also ended their dispute over their respective names: Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Each agreed to accept and use the others' correct name.

The Irish Government has sought, with mixed success, to prevent the importation of weapons and ammunition through its territory by illegal paramilitary organisations, for use in their conflict with the security forces in Northern Ireland. In the 1970s the Irish warship, the LÉ Ciara intercepted a ship carrying weapons from Libya which were probably destined for the republican paramilitaries. Law enforcement acts such as these additionally improved relations with the government of the United Kingdom. However, the independent judiciary blocked a number of attempts to extradite suspects between 1970 and 1998 on the basis that their crime might have been 'political' and thus contrary to international law at the time.

Ireland is also a party to the Rockall continental shelf dispute that also involves Denmark, Iceland, and the United Kingdom. Ireland and the United Kingdom have signed a boundary agreement in the Rockall area. However, neither have concluded similar agreements with Iceland or Denmark (on behalf of the Faroe Islands) and the matter remains under negotiation. Iceland now claims [2] a substantial area of the continental shelf to the west of Ireland, to a point 49°48'N 19°00'W, which is further south than Ireland.

The controversial Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in western England has been a contentious issue between the two governments. The Irish government has sought the closure of the plant, taking a case against the UK government under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. However, the European Court of Justice found that the case should have been dealt with under EU law.[4][5]


Ireland is consistently the most pro-European of EU member states, with 77% of the population approving of EU membership according to a Eurobarometer poll in 2006.[6] Ireland was a founding member of the euro single currency. In May 2004, Ireland was one of only three countries to open its borders to workers from the 10 new member states. EU issues important to Ireland include the Common Agricultural Policy, corporation tax harmonization and the EU Constitution. The Irish electorate declined to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon in the summer of 2008 after a short and uninformed campaign. After the voters had been given a clear exposition of the issues, a second referendum in October 2009 passed the bill, allowing the treaty to be ratified.

As of 2009, Dick Roche is Minister of State for European Affairs at the Department of Foreign Affairs. Ireland has held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on six occasions (in 1975, 1979, 1984, 1990, 1996 and 2004) and is scheduled to hold the presidency again in 2013.

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Austria See Foreign relations of Austria
 Belgium See Foreign relations of Belgium
 Czech Republic See Foreign relations of the Czech Republic
 Denmark See Foreign relations of Denmark
 Estonia See Foreign relations of Estonia
 Finland See Foreign relations of Finland
 France See Foreign relations of France
 Germany See Foreign relations of Germany

Ireland supports EU initiatives to promote peace between Georgia and Russia. Ireland recognises Georgian sovereignty over the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Ireland condemned the decision of Russia to recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.[9] The separatist Parliament of Abkhazia expressly called on Ireland to recognise Abkhaz independence, drawing parallels between Ireland’s own historic struggle for independence and international recognition with its own, the Abkhaz Parliament’s statement recalling that:[10]

“Just like Ireland, Abkhazia has finally acquired long-awaited independence and recognition at the cost of enormous efforts...[Ireland] was de-facto independent for a long time, but remained unrecognised. Ireland was the only unrecognised country in Europe until the world's largest country recognised a free parliament of Ireland. And that country was Russia.”

The parallel the Abkhaz Parliament referred to stems from the fact that the breakaway and largely unrecognised Irish Republic (1919–22), enjoyed some form of recognition from the RSFSR.

 Greece See Greece–Ireland relations
 Holy See See Holy See – Ireland relations

The majority of Irish people are Roman Catholic. The Holy See has an embassy in Dublin. Ireland has an embassy to the Holy See.

 Hungary See Foreign relations of Hungary
 Iceland See Foreign relations of Iceland
 Italy 1922
 Kosovo 17 February 2008
 Latvia 19 October 1991
 Lithuania 2 September 1991
 Luxembourg 1925
 Netherlands 1922
 Romania 1990-04-18
 Slovakia 1993
 Slovenia 1991
  • Ireland and Slovenia established diplomatic relations in 1991.[citation needed]
  • Ireland has an embassy in Ljubljana.[31]
  • Since January 2002, Slovenia has had an embassy in Dublin.[32]
 Sweden See Ireland–Sweden relations
 Ukraine 1992

Mainland China and Taiwan

Ireland's official relationship with the People's Republic of China began on 22 June 1979.[39]The Irish Times (Frontpage), 23 June 1979</ref> Following his visit to China in 1998, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern authorised the establishment of an Asia Strategy.[40] The aim of this Strategy was to ensure that the Irish Government and Irish enterprise work coherently to enhance the important relationships between Ireland and Asia.[40]

By 2004, China (including Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau) had become Ireland’s 7th largest trading partner.[41]

Ireland has raised its concerns in the area of human rights with China on a number of occasions. On 12 May 2007, during a visit to Beijing, Taoiseach Brian Cowen (then Minister for Finance) discussed human rights issues with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing.[42] Tánaiste Mary Coughlan also raised human rights issues and concerns with visiting Chinese Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan.[42] Ireland also participates in the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue.

Concerning the Taiwan issue, Ireland follows a One-China policy. In 2007, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern summarised the Irish position as follows:[43]

United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 of 25 October 1971 recognised the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole representative of China. Although Taiwan continues to exercise autonomy and to term itself ‘The Republic of China’, this is not recognised in international law. Taiwan’s official status is that of a Province of China...Ireland recognises the Government of the PRC as the sole legitimate government of China. Ireland does not maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan and there is no inter-Governmental contact between the two sides. A Taipei Representative Office, established in Dublin in 1988, has a representative function in relation to economic and cultural promotion, but no diplomatic or political status.

The following satement was issued by Dermot Ahern, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs' Department on Taiwan and Cross-straits relations on 12 March 2008:

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern, TD, today expressed his concern about the potential for increased Cross-Straits tensions in the lead-up to the Presidential elections in Taiwan due to take place on 22 March, and, in particular, the planned referendum on UN membership in the name of Taiwan.
Reiterating Ireland's 'One China' policy, Minister Ahern said: “At this time it is vital that any form of unilateral action that might undermine the status quo is avoided and I therefore do not support the holding of this referendum. It has been our consistent hope that the Taiwan issue will be resolved peacefully and through constructive dialogue between the parties concerned.”[44]

The Minister's emphasis on the One China policy and to the Taiwan issue being best settled through dialogue "between the parties concerned" was consistent with Beijing's wish that the Taiwan issue be regarded as a domestic one between Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.

In other arenas, the Irish government follows a strict One China policy. For example, when the Department of Foreign Affairs issued a travel advisory concerning the SARS outbreak, it advised individuals not to travel to "parts of China (i.e. Beijing, Guangdong, Hong Kong, Shanxi, Taiwan Province)".[45]


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Argentina 29 July 1947 See Argentina–Ireland relations
 Canada See Canada–Ireland relations

Canada and Ireland enjoy friendly relations, the importance of these relations centres on the history of Irish migration to Canada. Roughly 4 million Canadians have Irish ancestors, or approximately 14% of Canada's population.

 Colombia See Colombia–Ireland relations
  • Colombia is represented in Ireland through its embassy in London, United Kingdom.[47]
  • Ireland is represented in Colombia through its embassy in Mexico City, Mexico and an honorary consulate in Bogotá[48]
 Mexico See Ireland–Mexico relations

The relationship has been often associated with the Irish migration to Mexico. Mexico has an embassy in Dublin while Ireland has an embassy in Mexico City.

Rest of world

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Armenia 1996 See Armenia–Ireland relations
  • Ireland recognized Armenia’s independence in December 1991.
  • Armenia is represented in Ireland through its embassy in London (United Kingdom).[49]
  • Ireland is represented in Armenia through its embassy in Sofia (Bulgaria) and through an honorary consulate in Yerevan.[50]
  • Both countries are full members of the Council of Europe.
 Australia See Australia–Ireland relations
 Ethiopia See Ethiopia–Ireland relations
  • Both countries established diplomatic relations in 1994.
  • Ethiopia has an embassy in Dublin.
  • Since 1994, Ireland has an embassy in Addis Ababa.

Ireland disbursed USD 58.94 million to Ethiopia in 2007, making it sixth in bilateral donors.[53] Irish foreign aid to Ethiopia includes grants towards focuses on Vulnerability, Health, Education, HIV and AIDS and Governance, either directly, through NGOs, and missionary societies. These grants amounted to 32 million in 2007,[54] and over € 37 million in 2006.[55] In January, 2003, the Irish Minister of State with responsibility for Overseas Development Assistance, Tom Kitt, visited Ethiopia to see how his country could assist in famine relief. He planned to visit the Tigray Region, which was reported as being the most affected by famine at the time.[56]

 India See India – Ireland relations
  • India has an embassy in Dublin.

Indo-Irish relations picked up steam during the freedom struggles of the respective countries against a common imperial empire in the United Kingdom. Political relations between the two states have largely been based on socio-cultural ties, although political and economic ties have also helped build relations. Indo-Irish relations were greatly strengthened by the such luminaries as the likes of Pandit Nehru, Éamon de Valera, Rabindranath Tagore, W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, and, above all, Annie Besant.

Politically relations have not been cold nor warm. Mutual benefit has led to economic ties that are fruitful for both states.[citation needed] Visits by government leaders have kept relations cordial at regular intervals.

 Iran See Foreign relations of Iran
 Israel 1975
  • Ireland has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
  • Malaysia has an embassy in Dublin.
 New Zealand
 Pakistan See Ireland–Pakistan relations
 People's Republic of China 22 June 1979 See People's Republic of China – Ireland relations
 Philippines See Ireland – Philippines relations
  • Ireland-Philippines diplomatic relations officially began in 1986 and have become more intense over the years as increasing numbers of Filipinos have migrated to Ireland.
  • The Philippines appointed its first resident ambassador to Ireland during 2009.
 South Africa 1993-10-05
 South Korea 1983-10
 Zambia 1965 See Ireland–Zambia relations
  • Ireland has an embassy in Lusaka.
  • Zambia is represented in Ireland through its high commission in London (United Kingdom)

United Nations

The United Nations was founded in 1945, but Ireland's membership was blocked by the Soviet Union until it joined in 1955.[3] Since 25 July 2007, the Irish ambassador to the UN Office at Geneva has been Dáithí Ó Ceallaigh.[70] Ireland has been elected to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member on three occasions — in 1962, in 1981–1982 and most recently in 2001–2002.[71]

Ireland is a member state of the International Criminal Court, having signed the Rome Statute in 1998 and ratified it in 2002.[72]

Peacekeeping missions

Ireland has a long history of participation in UN peacekeeping efforts starting in 1958, just three years after joining the UN. As of 2006, 85 members of the Irish Defence Forces had been killed on peacekeeping missions.[73]

List of major peacekeeping operations:[74]

As well as these missions, Irish personnel have served as observers in Central America, Russia, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Namibia, Western Sahara, Kuwait and South Africa.[73]

International organisations

Ireland is a member of or otherwise participates in the following international organisations:[75]

Foreign aid

Ireland's aid program was founded in 1974, and in 2006 its budget amounted to €734 million. The government has set a target of reaching the Millennium Development Goal of 0.7% of Gross National Product in aid by 2012, a target which is projected to amount to €1.5 billion based on current GNP growth.[76] Irish development aid is concentrated on eight priority countries: Lesotho, Mozambique, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, Uganda, Vietnam and East Timor.[77] in 2006, Malawi was announced as the ninth priority country, with a tenth country to follow.[78]

As of 2009, Peter Power was the Minister of State for Overseas Development at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Human rights

There have been no serious civil, human or social rights abuses/problems in the State, according to Amnesty International and the U.S. State Department.[79][80] The country consistently comes among the top nations in terms of freedom and rights ratings.

Index Ranking (Most Recent) Result
Freedom in the World – Political Liberties 1st (Joint) 1 ("Free")
Freedom in the World – Civil Rights 1st (Joint) 1 ("Free")
Index of Economic Freedom 3rd 82.4 ("Free")
Worldwide Press Freedom Index Ranking 4th (Joint) 2.00 ("Most Free")
Global Peace Index 6th 1.41 ("More Peaceful")
Democracy Index 12th 9.01 ("Full Democracy")
International Property Rights Index 13th (Joint) 7.9
Corruption Perceptions Index 16th (Joint) 7.7
Failed States Index 174th (4th from the bottom) 19.5 ("Sustainable")

See also


  1. ^ Horgan v. An Taoiseach & others IEHC 64 (28 April 2003) — High Court judgement in the unsuccessful case brought by Ed Horgan
  2. ^ Trade and Investment Factfile — from the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland website (retrieved 15 November 2006)
  3. ^ Ireland backs U.S. legalizing illegal aliensWashington Times newspaper article, 2 December 2005 (retrieved 13 November 2006)
  4. ^ Irish Government must pursue Sellafield case via EUEuropean Parliament press release, 8 June 2006.
  5. ^ Irish Sellafield appeal ruled illegalThe Guardian news article, 30 May 2006.
  6. ^ Standard Eurobarometer 65 "Question QA11a: Generally speaking, do you feel that (OUR COUNTRY'S) membership of the European Union is...? Answers: A good thing." Survey conducted May–July 2006, published July 2006.
  7. ^ Bulgarian embassy in Dublin
  8. ^ Irish embassy in Bulgaria
  9. ^ Opening Statement by Minister For Foreign Affairs to the Joint Committee on European Affairs – 9 September 2008
  10. ^ Abkhazia asks Ireland and Belarus to recognise independence
  11. ^ Irish embassy in Athens
  12. ^ Irish embassy in Rome
  13. ^ Italian embassy in Dublin
  14. ^ Department of Foreign Affairs (2008-02-29). "Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern TD Announces Ireland’s recognition of the Republic of Kosovo". Press release. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  15. ^ Latvian embassy in Dublin
  16. ^ Lithuanian embassy in Dublin
  17. ^ Irish embassy in Luxembourg City
  18. ^ Irish embassy in The Hague
  19. ^ Dutch embassy in Dublin
  20. ^ Irish embassy in Oslo
  21. ^ Norwegian embassy in Dublin
  22. ^ Irish embassy in Warsaw
  23. ^ Polish embassy in Dublin
  24. ^ Irish embassy in Lisbon
  25. ^ Romanian embassy in Dublin
  26. ^ Irish embassy in Bucharest
  27. ^ Embassy of The Republic of Ireland in Moscow
  28. ^ Embassy of the Russian Federation in Dublin
  29. ^ Irish embassy in Bratislava
  30. ^ [1]
  31. ^ Website of the Irish embassy in Ljubljana
  32. ^ Website of the Slovenian embassy in Dublin
  33. ^ Irish embassy in Madrid
  34. ^ Spanish embassy in Dublin
  35. ^ Embassy of Ireland in Turkey
  36. ^ Embassy of Turkey in Ireland
  37. ^ Irish embassy in Prague (also accredited to Ukraine)
  38. ^ Ukrainian embassy in Dublin
  39. ^ Centre for Asian Studies, University Collete Dublin, China the Emerging Power: Prospects for Sino-Irish Relations, By Conor O'Clery, Asia Correspondent, The Irish Times – Ireland’s official relationship with the People’s Republic of China began on 22 June 1979. The Irish government press release said: "The Government of Ireland recognises the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China."
  40. ^ a b Irish Department of Foreign Affairs: A Decade of the Asia Strategy
  41. ^ Speech by Mr Dermot Ahern, TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs at a business lunch co-hosted with Enterprise Ireland for His Excellency Huang Ju, Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China, 17/11/2004 (Department of Foreign Affairs Website)
  42. ^ a b Oireachtas: WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 31 January 2007. Ref No: 43859/06
  43. ^ Oireachtas: ORAL answer on Thursday, 8 February 2007 by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Ref No: 3911/07)
  44. ^ Department of Foreign Affairs (Ireland): Statement by Dermot Ahern, TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs on Taiwan and Cross-Straits Relations, 12 March 2008
  45. ^ Advice Issued by the Department of Health and Children re Travel to SARS affected areas
  46. ^ – New deal to allow Irish to work in Argentina
  47. ^ Colombian embassy in London (also accredited to Ireland)
  48. ^ Irish Ministry of Foreign Affairs: direction of the honorary consulate in Bogota
  49. ^ Armenian embassy in London (also accredited to Ireland)
  50. ^ Irish embassy in Sofia (also accredited to Armenia)
  51. ^ Australia embassy in Dublin
  52. ^ Irish honorary consulate in Victoria
  53. ^ "Dataset: 2a. ODA by Recipient by country" OECD.Stat (accessed 1 May 2009)
  54. ^ "Ethiopia overview", Irish Aid website (accessed 3 February 2009)
  55. ^ "Impact of Irish Aid in Ethiopia in 2006", Irish Aid website (accessed 3 February 2009)
  56. ^ "Minister of State Kitt leaves for Ethiopia", Ireland, Department of Foreign Affairs website (accessed 3 February 2009)
  57. ^ Irish embassy in Tel Aviv
  58. ^ Israeli embassy in Dublin
  59. ^ Irish embassy in Tokyo
  60. ^ Japanese embassy in Dublin
  61. ^ Irish embassy in Canberra (also accredited to New Zealand)
  62. ^ New Zealand High Commission in London (also accredited to Ireland)
  63. ^ Irish embassy in Beijing
  64. ^ Chinese embassy in Dublin
  65. ^ Irish embassy in Pretoria
  66. ^ Irish embassy in Seoul
  67. ^ South Korean embassy in Dublin
  68. ^ Irish Ministry of Foreign Affairs: direction of the Irish embassy in Hanoi
  69. ^ Vietnamese embassy in London (also accredited to Ireland)
  70. ^ United Nations Office at Geneva — retrieved 7 January 2009
  71. ^ Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations — retrieved 13 November 2006
  72. ^ International Criminal Court: Ireland — retrieved 13 November 2006
  73. ^ a b Overseas Service: Ireland and the United Nations — from the Irish Defence Forces website, retrieved 13 November 2006
  74. ^ Defence Forces Service Overseas: List of Missions — from the Irish Defence Forces website, retrieved 13 November 2006.
  75. ^ CIA – The World Factbook – IrelandCIA World Factbook entry (retrieved 15 November 2006)
  76. ^ Ireland’s Overseas Aid Increases by 11.4% — Irish government press release, 4 April 2006.
  77. ^ Irish Aid: Frequently Asked Questions — Irish government website, retrieved 13 November 2006.
  78. ^ Irish government white paper on aid — Irish government white paper, 2006
  79. ^ Amnesty International – Ireland
  80. ^ US Department of State – Human rights in Ireland, 2007

External links

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address