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Ireland

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Ireland country brief

Political overview

Ireland is a parliamentary representative democracy. Legislative power is vested in the Oireachtas (Parliament), which consists of the President of Ireland and the two Houses of the Oireachtas, Dáil Éireann (Lower House) and Seanad Éireann (Senate/Upper House).

The President of Ireland is elected through a nation-wide ballot for a seven-year term. The President has no executive or policy role, exercising his/her formal powers and functions on the advice of the Government. An individual can only be elected President twice.

Executive power is exercised by the Government, which is led by the Taoiseach (Prime Minister). The Cabinet is nominated by the Taoiseach and approved by the Dáil, then appointed by the President.

Dáil Éireann is the principal Chamber of the Oireachtas and currently has 158 Members elected from 39 multi-seat constituencies. Representation will increase from the next General Election to 174 members from 43 multi-seat constituencies following an electoral review in 2023. Elections to Dáil Éireann must be held at least once every five years.

Seanad Éireann is the Upper House of the Oireachtas and has 60 Senators. The Taoiseach nominates 11 Senators. Six Senators are elected by graduates of certain national universities. The remaining 43 Senators are elected from various cultural and vocational panels by members of the outgoing Senate, members of the recently elected Dáil and the elected members of Ireland's county councils.

Foreign policy

Ireland became a member of the United Nations (UN) in 1955. Ireland joined the European Communities, now known as the European Union (EU), in 1973 (including the Eurozone from 1 January 1999) and seeks to coordinate its foreign policy with other EU Member States. Ireland is also a founding member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (1961), the Organisation for Security Cooperation in Europe (1975) and the World Trade Organisation (1995).

While Ireland's foreign policy has traditionally focused on multilateral institutions such as the UN and the EU, it is broadening its diplomatic and commercial presence in the Indo-Pacific as part of its Global Ireland strategy. Ireland's neutrality is essential to its identity internationally and is protected within its constitution.

Global Ireland Delivering in the Asia Pacific Region to 2025, launched in January 2020 and refreshed in 2023.

Government of Ireland Strategy for Partnership with Small Island Developing States Small Island States, launched in 2023.

Bilateral relations

Australia and Ireland established diplomatic relations in 1946. The relationship is underpinned by strong people to people links, with one in ten Australians claiming Irish descent.

Ireland is a strong advocate within the European Union and seeks to strengthen multilateral institutions through partnerships with countries like Australia. The Australian and Irish Governments maintain policy dialogues on areas of shared interest, such as respect for democracy and human rights, and a commitment to the rules-based international order. We share a commitment to multilateral cooperation on international security, human rights and protecting sovereignty within the rules-based order and growing two-way trade and investment.

Fast Facts

Irish visitors to Australia (visitor arrivals - 2022)

46,230

Australian visitors to Ireland (resident returns - 2022)

60,080

Resident Australian population born in Ireland (2021 census)

85,860

Australian residents of Irish descent (2021 census)

2.41 million

High level engagement

  • July 2023 – Minister for Tourism and Sport, Thomas Byrne TD, met with Prime Minister Albanese in Sydney during the FIFA Women's World Cup.
  • July 2023 - Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Bill Shorten, met with Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Disabilities, Anne Rabbitte TD, in Galway.
  • March 2023 - Irish Minister for Commerce, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney TD, visited Australia for St Patricks Day celebrations.
  • July 2022 - Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O'Connor, met with Irish Minister of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD in Dublin.
  • March 2022 - Irish Minister of State for Roads and Transport, Hildegarde Naughton, visited Australia for St Patricks Day celebrations.

Agreements and arrangements with Ireland

Australia has numerous bilateral agreements with Ireland, including on social security, double taxation and cultural cooperation.

Texts of bilateral agreements are available at the Australian Treaties Database.

Public diplomacy

The Australian Embassy in Ireland manages a public diplomacy program focused on increasing awareness in Ireland of contemporary Australia as a successful multicultural nation, and dynamic Indo-Pacific economy. The program promotes Australian music, film and literature, and our premium produce.

Building on strong sporting links between Australia and Ireland, the Embassy has collaborated with several codes in Ireland, including Gaelic Athletic Association (Gaelic football - GAA), Rugby Union, cricket, and football.  This is strengthened by the significant contribution of Irish women competing in the AFLW, and the recent visits by the Matildas and Australian Cricket teams to Ireland. The Embassy collaborates with private and public sector partners to deliver promotional events, including in the areas of viticulture, sports, and digital diplomacy. The Embassy also works with Australian alumni in Ireland. These events promote Australia as an attractive place to study, work, visit, live, and invest.

Economic Diplomacy

Commercial relations between Australia and Ireland continue to grow, with two-way goods and services trade worth $8 billion in 2022.

The total stock of Irish investment in Australia was valued at $39 billion in 2022. Australian investment stock in Ireland was valued at $49 billion in 2022.

The Irish economy is modern and trade-focused, with an explicit strategy of attracting foreign direct investment in high-tech and services sectors. Ireland's low rate of corporate tax has seen many multinational companies relocate to Ireland in recent years, particularly in the IT and pharmaceutical sectors.

IDA Ireland partners with potential and existing investors to help them establish or expand their operations in Ireland. Given our shared language, common law system and values, and people-to-people links, Ireland can be a bridge for Australian companies to do business in Europe.

Enterprise Ireland is focused on increasing Irish exports to the Indo-Pacific. With our network of free trade agreements, Australia can be a trusted conduit for Irish companies looking to expand their horizons.

More economic and trade information.

Business

Australian businesses such as Macquarie, Harvey Norman, and Chemist Warehouse are well positioned within the Irish market. Australia continues to seek opportunities to promote Australian business and raise awareness of potential benefits of increased trade between Australia and Europe, including Ireland.

Major Irish companies represented in Australia include Kingspan, Paddy Power, Glen Dimplex, Coolmore Stud, and DP Energy. The Australian commercial presence in Ireland covers a wide range of sectors. High-profile Australian businesses in Ireland include Harvey Norman Ireland, the Macquarie Group, AMP Capital, Link Assets Group, Pepper Money, NIB Insurance and Chemist Warehouse.

Through events and programs, the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce provides members with a network, across Australia and in Dublin, to further business opportunities.

The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) London Office focuses on attracting foreign direct investment and promoting Australia's education services with Ireland

Australian Embassy in Dublin

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