Government, cities and ports in Ireland
The Irish Government
Ireland is a parliamentary democracy. The Head of the Government is the Taoiseach. The Tánaiste is the Deputy Prime Minister. There are 15 Government Departments. The Taoiseach and the Ministers collectively form the Governmentunder the Irish constitution, and they hold executive power.
The Parliament is called the Oireachtas. There are two Houses of Parliament: Dáil Éireann (House of Representatives) and Seanad Éireann (Senate). The Dáil has 166 members known as Teachtaí Dála (TD), who are elected using proportional representation with a single transferrable vote (PR-STV). Elections take place at least every five years. The current government, elected in 2011, is a coalition between Fine Gael and Labour. The other main political parties represented in the Dáil are Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.
The Seanad has 60 members, eleven of whom are nominated by the Taoiseach. The rest are elected from vocational panels and by national universities. The Seanad can initiate or revise legislation, but the Dáil can reject their amendments and proposed legislation.
The President of Ireland
The President of Ireland (Uachtarán na hÉireann) serves as head of state and is directly elected by the people. The current President, elected in 2011, is Michael D Higgins. Presidents are elected for seven years, and can serve no more than two terms. The President has a largely ceremonial role.
There are 114 local authorities in Ireland. They provide a wide range of services, including housing, transport, water supply, waste management, education, health and welfare.
The Irish parliament, or Dail, is elected by proportional representation, using the single transferable vote system.
There are 166 seats across the Republic of Ireland with the speaker of the house being automatically re-elected.
There are 43 constituencies, with each electing either three, four or five candidates.
It is expected to take about two days to count all the votes.
Irish voters have not given any party an overall majority since Fianna Fail won 84 seats out of a possible 148 in 1977.
The main parties are Fianna Fail, who won the most seats in the last election in 2007, Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Fein and the Green Party.
Fianna Fail have been in power for the past 14 years with various junior coalition partners.
Fianna Fail and Fine Gael emerged following a split in nationalist opinion over the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty.
Fianna Fail was once seen as more centrist, Fine Gael as more conservative, but differences have blurred.
Labour was the traditional junior party in coalitions before 1997.
Sinn Fein, often shunned by maintream politicians because of its links to the Provisional IRA, had four seats, as many as the Greens, the junior coalition partner, in the outgoing parliament.
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 military policy, thus it is not a member of NATO and has a longstanding policy of military neutrality. According to the Irish Defence forces, this policy has helped them to be successful in their contributions to UN peace-keeping missions since 1960 (in the Congo Crisis) and subsequently in Cyprus, Lebanon and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Dublin – the Capital city of Ireland
Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland, is built on the River Liffey and is also situated beside the sea, yet close to both the countryside and mountains. A city of fine Georgian buildings, Dublin has been influenced by its Danish, Norman and English antecedents. It has excellent stores and shops, museums, antique shops and a range of pubs and restaurants. Among the goods for which Ireland is particularly well known are tweed, knitwear, linen, glass, lace and silverware. These can be purchased from most department stores or specialist handcraft shops. It has major theatres, including the world famous Abbey theatre, concert facilities, art galleries and cinemas. There is a wide variety of sporting facilities including golf courses, sailing and racecourses.
Cities and towns
The largest cities in Ireland are Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford, and Drogheda where the number of inhabitants range from 38 thousand to 198 thousand people.
There are more than 20 sea ports and container terminals in Ireland.
The economy of Ireland is a modern knowledge economy focusing on services and high-tech industries and dependent on trade, industry and investment. The country is one of the largest exporters of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and software-related goods and services in the world. Ireland was and remains one of the most open, business-friendly economies in the world – with a young well-educated workforce.
Ireland has an exceptionally strong international financial services sector with particular strengths in: administration and management of funds; re-insurance; cross border insurance and specialist finance, such as aviation leasing and asset finance.
As a result, Ireland has built a deep pool of staff, managers, professional advisers, regulators and service providers with sophisticated domain knowledge in the key mobile financial services sectors. There are only a limited number of places in the world with such an ecosystem.
A combination of 12.5% tax and an exceptionally extensive and comprehensive set of double tax agreements with 62 countries, makes Ireland a highly tax efficient location. Such efficiency is particularly beneficial for international financial service operations.
The country is one of the biggest exporters of pharmaceuticals in the world (28 percent of Ireland’s total exports). Other major exports are organic chemicals, data processing equipment and software. Main imports are: electrical machinery and components (16 percent of total imports), fuel (15 percent), motor vehicles (10 percent) and food (10 percent). European Union is by far its largest trading partner, accounting for about 60 percent of total trade. Within the EU, main partners are United Kingdom (16 percent of exports and 34 percent of imports), Germany and France. Other major partners are United States (23 percent of exports and 12 percent of imports) and China.
Ireland’s currency is the euro (€), which is divided into 100 cents.
Traditional Irish recipes tend to be very simple, with just a few ingredients in most cases.
For many years the Irish considered Guinness to be not so much a drink or even a food, but a whole food group all of its own! While it may not be traditional in cooking in the sense of going back centuries, it has been used for quite a long time in stews and as a marinade.
Irish tradional cuisine is a peasant cuisine and food in a poor household is never wasted. There is nothing that illustrates this so well as the pig. Few ordinary Irish households in the past would have eaten beef – this was a food for the rich – but many kept a pig and it is said that they ate every part of it except for the grunt.
Summer is berry time and wild blackberries are abundant throughout Ireland as are rosehips and wild strawberries. The wet warm weather of late summer and early autumn is mushroom time and wild mushroom can be found in large amounts in both woodland and on pasture, especially following a good rain shower. A little later there are nuts aplenty, in particular hazel and beech nuts and crab apples ripen.
It’s impossible to talk about Irish food without mentioning the potato. They are eaten boiled, mashed, fried, chipped and baked, mixed with cabbage or scallions to make colcannon or champ, made into potato cakes and used to top pies and thicken soups or stews. It’s common to find potatoes cooked two ways on the same dinner plate.
Of all foods, the humble spud is certainly the most traditional. We may not be dependent on them in the way we were in the past but there are a lot of Irish people for whom a dinner without potatoes is not a dinner at all
St.Patrick`s – the most important Traditional Festival
St. Patrick’s Festival is now by far the biggest annual event in the country providing entertainment for all interests and ages.