Foreign relations of the Republic of Ireland

Foreign relations of the Republic of Ireland

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 missionsFact|date=August 2008 since 1960 (in the Congo Crisis) and subsequently in Cyprus, Lebanon and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

European Union

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. [ [ 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.] Yet the Irish rejected the EU Lisbon treaty in the summer of 2008. 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.

As of 2008, Dick Roche is Minister of State with special responsibility 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.

United Kingdom

Since independence, 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. With the onset of the Troubles in 1969, the Irish government sought an accommodation with the British government to bring the violence to an end Fact|date=August 2008. Following the burning of the British embassy in Dublin in 1972, the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973 and the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 were important steps in this process. In 1998, both nations signed the Belfast Agreement and now co-operate closely to find a solution to the region's problems. Articles 2 and 3 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 two states also ended the 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 the state by the illegal IRA, 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 more than likely 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 many attempts to extradite suspects between 1970 and 1998 on the basis that their crime might have been 'political'.

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 [] 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. [ [ Irish Government must pursue Sellafield case via EU] — European Parliament press release, 8 June 2006.] [ [,,1786089,00.html Irish Sellafield appeal ruled illegal] — "The Guardian" news article, 30 May 2006.]

As of 2006, David Reddaway was the British ambassador to Ireland, and Dáithí Ó Ceallaigh was the Irish ambassador to the United Kingdom.

:"See also: List of Ambassadors from the United Kingdom to Ireland"

United States

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. [ [ Horgan v. An Taoiseach & others IEHC 64 (28 April 2003)] — High Court judgement in the unsuccessful case brought by Ed Horgan] Foreign direct investment by U.S. companies is vital to the Irish economy — the U.S. is Ireland's largest source of foreign investmentFact|date=August 2008, and exports to the U.S. amounted to 10% of GDP in 2005. [ Trade and Investment Factfile] — from the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland website (retrieved 15 November 2006)] 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 Mitchell Reiss. 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. [ [ Ireland backs U.S. legalizing illegal aliens] — "Washington Times" newspaper article, 2 December 2005 (retrieved 13 November 2006)] and investment by U.S. companies in Ireland.

As of 2006, Noel Fahey was the Irish ambassador to the United States, and Thomas C. Foley was the U.S. ambassador to Ireland.:"See also: Embassy of the United States in Dublin, United States Ambassador to Ireland"

United Nations

The United Nations was founded in 1945, but Ireland's membership was blocked by the Soviet Union until it joined in 1955. [] As of 2006, the Irish ambassador to the UN was David J. Cooney. [ [ Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations] — retrieved 13 November 2006] 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. [ [ Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations] — retrieved 13 November 2006]

Ireland is a member state of the International Criminal Court, having signed the Rome Statute in 1998 and ratified it in 2002. [ [ International Criminal Court: Ireland] — retrieved 13 November 2006]

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. [ Overseas Service: Ireland and the United Nations] — from the Irish Defence Forces website, retrieved 13 November 2006]

"List of major peacekeeping operations:" [ Defence Forces Service Overseas: List of Missions] — from the Irish Defence Forces website, retrieved 13 November 2006.]
*June 1958–December 1958: UNOGIL observer mission to Lebanon
*1958–present: UNTSO mission to the Middle East
*1960–1964: ONUC mission to Congo
*1964–present: UNFICYP mission to Cyprus
*1973–1974: UNEF II mission to Sinai after the Yom Kippur War
*1978–present: UNIFIL mission to Lebanon
*1988–1991: UNIIMOG mission to the Iran-Iraq border following the Iran–Iraq War
*1993–1995: UNOSOM II "peace enforcement" mission to Somalia
*1997–2004: SFOR mission to former Yugoslavia
*1999–present: KFOR mission to Kosovo
*1999–2000: INTERFET mission to East Timor
*2003–present: UNMIL mission to Liberia
*2008–present: EUFOR Chad/CAR mission to Chad and the Central African Republic

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

International organisations

Ireland is a member of or otherwise participates in the following international organisations: [ [ CIA - The World Factbook - Ireland] — CIA World Factbook entry (retrieved 15 November 2006)]

Asian Development Bank, Australia Group, Bank for International Settlements, Council of Europe, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank, Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union, European Space Agency, European Union, Food and Agriculture Organization, International Atomic Energy Agency, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Civil Aviation Organization, International Criminal Court, International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, International Development Association, International Energy Agency, International Fund for Agricultural Development, International Finance Corporation, International Labour Organization, International Monetary Fund, International Maritime Organization, Interpol, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, International Organization for Migration, Inter-Parliamentary Union, International Organization for Standardization, International Telecommunication Union, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nuclear Energy Agency, Nuclear Suppliers Group, Organization of American States (observer), OECD, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Paris Club, Permanent Court of Arbitration, Partnership for Peace, United Nations, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNESCO, UNHCR, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, United Nations Mission in Liberia, United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire, United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, Universal Postal Union, World Customs Organization, Western European Union (observer), World Health Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization, World Meteorological Organization, World Trade Organization, Zangger Committee.

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. [ Ireland’s Overseas Aid Increases by 11.4%] — Irish government press release, 4 April 2006.] Irish development aid is concentrated on eight priority countries: Lesotho, Mozambique, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, Uganda, Vietnam and East Timor. [ Irish Aid: Frequently Asked Questions] — Irish government website, retrieved 13 November 2006.] in 2006, Malawi was announced as the ninth priority country, with a tenth country to follow. [ Irish government white paper on aid] — Irish government white paper, 2006]

As of 2008, Michael Kitt was the Minister of State with special responsibility for Overseas Development and Human Rights 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. [ [ Amnesty International - Ireland] ] [ [ US Department of State - Human rights in Ireland, 2007] ] The country consistently comes among the top nations in terms of freedom and rights ratings.

ee also

*Common Travel Area
*Relations between Israel and Ireland
*Irish diplomatic missions
*List of diplomatic missions in Ireland
*Message to the Free Nations of the World


External links

* [ Legal Treaties - Department of Foreign Affairs] — text of treaties signed by Ireland.

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