Ireland Industry

For a long time, the industrial sector was dominated by traditional industries such as the food and brewery industries. Today, the manufacture of chemicals, electronics and pharmaceuticals is at least as important. Many of the high-tech companies are foreign-owned, which results in large sums being moved out of the country each year.

Until independence, Ireland was largely out of the industrial revolution, as Britain, for reasons of competition, restricted the development of industry. In addition, the industry that existed was mainly located in Northern Ireland. From the 1930s, Ireland invested in industrial expansion, but that development did not take off until Ireland joined the EC in 1973.


In the 1980s, the industry developed rapidly. This was mainly due to the fact that foreign companies were attracted to Ireland by means of generous location grants, tax relief, state aid for research and development and more. Since the EU single market came into being in 1993, mainly US and Japanese large companies have established themselves in Ireland to reach the rest of the EU from there. During a ten-year period from the end of the 1980s, Ireland attracted 40 percent of US electronics companies’ foreign investment.

At the beginning of the 1990s, the industrial sector grew rapidly, after which the growth rate slowed. Production decreased in 2009, but increased again in 2010 and 2011.

In 2010, the industry accounted for almost a third of GDP. In 2006, 27 percent of the labor force was employed in the industry, four years later the proportion had fallen to just over 17 percent, largely due to the disappearance of many jobs in the construction sector.

  • COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Ireland. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.

In 2009, the US computer company Dell decided to move its computer manufacturing from Ireland to Poland. 1,900 out of 3,000 jobs would disappear from the Limerick factory. It was the first major US company to move out of Ireland as a result of the economic crisis. Dell is the country’s largest export company, accounting for about 5 percent of GDP.



Tense between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil

December 10

As long as the UK-EU Brexit negotiations have been over, Fine Gael has been able to rely on the support of Fianna Fáil, its usually main competitor for power. But now this is worrying, especially as Fianna Fáil needs to profile himself before the parliamentary elections next year. There is a risk that the party will now decide to fold the government. During the autumn, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has been active in trying to prevent Britain from leaving the EU without a deal. This has caused his opinion figures to rise to 51 percent in October, 15 percent more than a few months earlier.

An Irish IS woman is arrested after being expelled from Turkey

1 December

An Irish woman who traveled to Syria in 2015 to join the Islamic State (IS) is arrested when she returns to Ireland after being deported from Turkey where she was taken from a former Kurdish-controlled camp. The woman who was previously a soldier in the Irish defense denies allegations that she must have trained women to participate in combat or that she has been involved in some form of terrorism. Her two-year-old daughter, who was born in Syria, is being taken care of by the woman’s relatives. About 30 Irish citizens are believed to have traveled to Syria to join IS, most of them killed there, or located in other countries.


Filling choice setback for Varadkar’s party

November 30

The ruling party Fine Gael fails to win any of the four filling elections held on Saturday. Two seats go to Fianna Fáil, one to the Green Party and one to Sinn Féin. It is a setback for Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who plans to hold new parliamentary elections for the next six months. However, only one of the mandates was previously held by Fine Gael.

“Provincial government in January, otherwise Northern Ireland awaits election”

November 16

Northern Ireland’s Julian Smith says he intends to announce elections in Northern Ireland if the province does not have a new government by January 13, 2020. The statement is made when the UK-Ireland Council, which came into being as part of the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement 1998, meets in Dublin. Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar says talks at best of setting up a new provincial government may, at best, start after the December 12 British election. Scotland’s Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon also attends the meeting. Northern Ireland has now lacked government since the beginning of 2017. During the weekend, Sinn Féin also meets for its annual party conference. Michelle O’Neill is then re-elected as the party’s vice-chair. Prior to the conference, John O’Dowd has challenged O’Neill for the post, but he does not win enough support to take over.

Income from corporate taxes is increasing

November 12

Ireland’s corporate tax revenue will increase to € 11 billion for 2019, which is € 1.5 billion more than the Irish government had expected at the beginning of the year. This means that the state’s income from corporate taxes has doubled since 2012, much because so many multinationals have established themselves in Ireland.


British Brexit proposal is received with skepticism

October 3

The UK Government presents a new proposal for how to reach a new exit agreement with the EU, which primarily affects the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland (see UK: Calendar). The proposal is received with clear skepticism in Ireland, as in many other EU countries. The EU points out that it supports Ireland on this issue, even if it opens up for further talks with the UK to try to reach a Brexit agreement. In retrospect, it is becoming increasingly clear that the British government is trying to put the blame for any unenforceable Brexit on the EU, but especially on Ireland and Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.


The DUP leader meets Leo Varadkar for talks

September 18

Now there are signs that the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is softening its stance on Northern Ireland and Brexit. DUP leader Arlene Foster meets for the first time Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar for a 45-minute call in Dublin. At another meeting on the same day, she says she might think of a kind of special solution for Northern Ireland, as a result of Britain’s EU exit, if it does not affect the British province’s constitutional status and whether such a solution is approved by the Northern Ireland Parliament, Stormont. Following the British election in 2017, the DUP has served as a support party for the Conservative British government. A position of power the party has now lost as Boris Johnson’s government has lost its majority in the lower house. The DUP is also under pressure in Northern Ireland, then new abortion laws will come into force on October 21 unless a new Northern Ireland government is in place before that. Northern Ireland has been lacking government since early 2017.

Contractless Brexit is expected to hit the Irish economy hard

11 September

The Irish Government will in the budget for 2020 assume that the UK will leave the EU without an agreement. This is what Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe says, while emphasizing that it will have major consequences for Ireland. At least 55,000 jobs are expected to disappear, and GDP is projected to decrease by 6 percent, according to the government’s forecast. The government will therefore, in its budget, focus on assisting the industries that will be hit hardest by a contractless Brexit, especially the manufacturing industry and agriculture. This also means that there will be less money for some welfare initiatives, and there is no need for any reduction in income tax.

Varadkar: “No Brexit Agreement unless the border issue is resolved”

September 9th

Boris Johnson is visiting Ireland for the first time since he became British Prime Minister in July. His Irish colleague Leo Varadkar clearly states that the UK needs to come up with a sustainable proposal for how to solve the problems between the Northern Ireland and Ireland border if there is an opportunity to reach an agreement with the EU. Promises that the border issue will be resolved in the future are not enough. and that the special solution for Northern Ireland (called backstop) must work until a new solution is found. Johnson emphasizes that he wants a deal, but if it becomes a contractless Brexit because of the border issue, the blame for a failure will lie on both the UK and the Irish government. Both parties subsequently describe the meeting as positive and constructive.


Fast economic growth 2018

July 11

Ireland’s economy grew by over eight percent in 2018, according to the Irish Statistics Authority CSO. The high growth is largely due to increased exports of goods and services. The economic statistics in Ireland can often be misleading because of how the multinationals report their profits, but according to the CSO, the economy had grown by over six percent even though the gains made by the multinationals had been accounted for.


Success for the Green Party in local and EU elections

May 26

The ruling party Fine Gael becomes the largest party in the EU elections with almost 30 percent of the vote giving 5 seats. The opposition party Fianna Fáil receives almost 17 percent of the votes and two seats, while the Green party receives just over 11 percent and two seats, which is the party’s best result to date. Republican Sinn Féin wins just under 12 percent of the vote and a mandate. Nearly 24 percent of voters vote for independent candidates, three of whom will join the European Parliament. The turnout is almost 50 percent. The distribution of seats is not yet complete. The Green Party is also progressing strongly in the municipal elections held at the same time (the party increases from 12 seats to 59), while Sinn Féin makes a lousy election, and loses almost half of its seats (the party goes from 159 seats to 81). The opposition party Fianna Fáil is the party that receives the most municipal mandate: 297, which is 12 more than before. The Fine Gael government party receives a total of 255 seats, which is also an increase. It is the first time in 20 years that a government party has increased its representation in an Irish local election.

Ireland votes to liberalize divorce laws

May 26

Ireland votes to liberalize the country’s divorce law. More than 82 percent of voters approve the constitutional change in a referendum. In the legislation that is now to be torn down, it takes five years to get through a divorce, during which time the couple must have lived apart for at least four years. It is now up to the Chamber of Deputies to establish new rules. Divorce has only been allowed in Ireland since 1995.

Ireland’s parliament announces ‘climate emergency’

May 10

The Chamber of Deputies of Ireland follows the UK’s lower house and declares a “climate emergency”. This is done as a supplement in a report and with a call for the country to do more to preserve biodiversity. It is adopted without voting.

Ireland and the UK agree on a joint travel zone after Brexit

May 8

Ireland and the United Kingdom sign a Declaration of Intent (Meomorandum of Understanding) to retain the opportunity for Irish and British to travel freely between countries after Brexit. Citizens from one country should continue to have the right to work, study, access various grants and seek care in the other country without special permission. The agreement also gives Irish citizens the right to vote in British elections and vice versa. The agreement concerns around 300,000 Britons residing in Ireland, and 350,000 Irish in the UK. The Common Travel Area (CTA) has existed since 1922. The new agreement is not binding on any of the countries. At the same time as the agreement is concluded, new talks will start between the Northern Irish parties in Belfast.


Northern Irish politician candidate for Fine Gael in EU election

March 5th

Mark Durkan, former leader of the Nationalist and Social Democratic Party SDLP in Northern Ireland, announces that he will stand for the Irish government party Fine Gael in the EU elections. It is happening at the same time as his old party has started a collaboration with Ireland’s largest opposition party Fianna Fáil. Durkan, who previously sat in the British Parliament for the SDLP, says the UK’s decision to leave the EU has affected his decision.


Collaboration agreement between SDLP and Fianna Fáil

February 9

A majority of the members of the Northern Ireland Social Democratic Party SDLP vote for a collaboration with the bourgeois Irish party Fianna Fáil. The decision is criticized by the Irish Government’s Fine Gael and the Labor Party in the same country.


Ready for referendum on the Divorce Act

January 29th

The Irish Government has announced that a referendum will be held on the country’s divorce laws. It is about removing the mandatory waiting period that exists now before a couple can get a divorce (they must have lived separately for at least four years during the previous five-year period). The referendum is likely to be held at the same time as the EU elections at the end of May.

“Hard Brexit would create major problems for Ireland’s economy”

January 29th

The Irish Ministry of Finance predicts that a UK exit from the EU without a deal will hit the Irish economy. In that case, growth is expected to be just over 4 percent lower than it otherwise would have been. According to figures from the country’s central bank, it will decrease by 6 percent in the ten-year term. Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe stressed that the problems could very well be even greater. In this case, the problems are expected to hit agriculture and small and medium-sized food companies extra hard.

Ireland’s state budget of plus 2018

January 3rd

For the first time since 2008, Ireland 2018 has a surplus in the state budget of around EUR 100 million. According to Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, this is due to higher income than expected from corporate taxes.

Ireland opens new embassies

January 1st

Ahead of Britain’s EU exit, Ireland is opening or has already opened several new embassies and consulates in, for example, India, Colombia, Chile, Jordan, Liberia, New Zealand. There will be new consulates in Canada, Germany and the USA. By 2020, Ireland will open embassies in Ukraine, Morocco and the Philippines. The purpose is largely to create new trade relations. Foreign Minister Simon Coveney emphasizes, however, that close cooperation with the UK will continue, as will contacts with the Nordic and Baltic countries.

Ireland Industry

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