Ireland - national flag
Ireland's tricolor is known from approximately 1830. The model is the French, but
with the traditional Irish colors: Green for "The Green Island" and the Catholic
population, orange originates from William III of Orange's livery color and
symbolizes the island's Protestants; moreover white for hope of peace and unity
on the island. The current order of colors dates from 1920. The flag was de
facto used in 1922, but only officially in 1937.
What does the flag of Ireland look like? Follow this link, then you will see
the image in PNG format and flag meaning description about this country.
The first traces of people in Ireland date back to the Mesolithic. In
Southern and Central Ireland, several settlements have been found by lakes from
7000-6000 BC. with microlit tips. From approximately 6000-4000 BC known finds along
rivers and along the coast from the Larnian culture with larger splitting
tools. Agriculture was introduced approximately 4000 BC House plots are known for
well-built, square houses, approximately 12 m × 4-5 m, and in Western Ireland
well-preserved Neolithic field systems have been uncovered.
AbbreviationFinder: Check three-letter abbreviation for each country in the world,
such as IRL which represents the official name of Ireland.
approximately 3500 BC megalithic tombs began to be built with great variety, from
small simple dolmens to impressive giant tombs. Among the early megalithic tombs
belong court cairns, where the chambers can open out to an enclosed
courtyard inside the mound. What is special about Ireland is that megalithic
tombs can gather in dense burial sites, often around a giant burial chamber. In
the Boyne Valley north of Dublin are the three largest burial chambers, Knowth,
Dowth and New Grange, each with a diameter of almost 100 m, and very close to
Knowth there are also 18 smaller burial chambers. The stones of the burial
chambers are often richly decorated with carved geometric motifs. From the last
part of the Stone Age and the Bronze Age, stone circles are known, eg Grange
near Limerick, with a diameter of approximately 65 m.
See song and lyrics about Ireland
began around 2000 BC. In Ireland there are natural deposits of gold, copper
and to some extent tin. At Mount Gabriel in the county of Cork is an important
early mining site with main activity between 1700 and 1500 BC. Quantities of
small mine shafts with a maximum depth of 11 m intersect the sides of the low
mountain. The many metal objects of the Bronze Age originate mostly from
treasure finds, either cultic closures or depots. A special Irish type from the
Early Bronze Age are crescent-shaped gold necklaces, lunulae; some
ended up far from Ireland, thus two have been found in Denmark. In the Late
Bronze Age, the gold wealth increased, and large bronze horns are known to be
related to the Nordic lurks. The settlement consisted of small fenced villages
with round huts.
In the second half of the 1st millennium BC. there was a smooth transition to
the Iron Age, where many prestigious objects were still made of
bronze. approximately 300 BC Celtic art was introduced, building on swirling ribbons
and geometric patterns, which developed over the following many centuries in a
particular Irish style. The Iron Age includes a large part of Ireland's ramparts
and fortifications. Some ramparts, such as Tara north of Dublin, should be seen
as centers of cult and ceremonies and as a kind of royal seat. In the centuries
after the birth of Christ, Ireland gradually began to enter history, and from
later written down semi-mythological accounts, strong, rival small kingdoms were
under development, often centered on ramparts.
Ireland (History - 430-1169)
Ireland (History - 430-1169), the introduction of Christianity and the time
of the small kingdoms (approximately 430-795)
Ireland was Christianized approximately 430 by the Welsh missionary Patrick, and
the oldest surviving written sources show a community with a distinctive blend
of pagan and Christian culture as well as its own alphabet. The island was
divided into more than 100 small kingdoms, whose kings often had their
headquarters (crannóg) behind isolated palisade works on islands in the great
rivers and lakes or in ring forts (ráth) on ridges. However, a common legal
order existed, which was maintained by itinerant judges, narrators and singers,
the so-called Brehons, based on the tradition of the Celtic druids. The small
kings fought over the large herds of cattle that formed the basis of society's
The oldest church was organized in dioceses as on the continent, but soon the
monastic system was given a very central role. Some monks sought the extreme
isolation of small islands, while others were extroverted, such as Columbanus,
who brought the Irish monastic order to the continent. The Irish Church had
several features, including a different method of calculating for Easter than
the Roman one, which eventually isolated it from the mainland continent. In
order to calculate Easter, the Irish monasteries kept about 600 annual records,
and gradually they began to record important events of an ecclesiastical and
political nature. These yearbooks, the Irish annals, are of a unique
scale, and early Irish medieval history is therefore better illuminated than in
other European societies.
In Ireland, the large monastic communities organized themselves with their
own army system, which was strong enough to ensure a peaceful existence in the
divided society. The sanctity of the monasteries attracted the interest of the
kings, due to the herds' cattle flocks and silver and gold riches.
approximately 750 the great monasteries had become so secularized that they
themselves took an active part in the Irish power struggle, which had eventually
resulted in the power being in the hands of 4-5 great kings and their allied
abbots. Refuge castles, so-called round towers, shot up all over the island. In
response to this secularization, the great reform movement Celi Dé emerged.
The Age of the Vikings (795-1169)
In 795, the Irish annals recorded the first Viking attacks, and the yearbooks
contain up to 500 entries about the Norsemen in Ireland in the period up to
approximately 1130. In 841, the Norwegians established Dublin as a winter camp, and
after a series of battles, Ivar and Olav became the kings of the
Vikings. Eventually a group of warriors arose, who moved freely between the
Danish camp in York in England and the Norwegians in Dublin. The Dublin kings
tried several times to conquer York, which sparked internal strife. In such a
situation, the Irish, who for once performed together, expelled the Vikings from
all their camps in 902.
In 917 a new Viking army returned from York, and for the next few decades
York-Dublin was a strong political axis. The English conquest of Danelagen also
weakened the Irish Vikings, and from approximately 940 Dublin and the other new camps
like Limerick, Wexford and Waterford survived only because the Irish kings
needed them. The Vikings were excellent mercenaries, and their ships, axes and
swords found good use, for example in the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.
The presence of the Vikings in the coastal signs did not change the basic
structure of Irish society, but their form of war came to characterize the
strife between the small kingdoms. The sanctity of the monasteries was not
respected by the Gentiles and already in the 800-t. nor any longer by the Irish
themselves, just as the many cattle robberies had a far more devastating effect
on society when the kings employed professional warriors for large
conquests. However, it never managed to unite the entire island under one king,
even though the king of Munster, Brian Boru, was close by.
The Viking camps also changed character and significance, and from the
mid-900's. there was considerable trade in the camps, where the Irish kings found
good imports from the continent and the Orient. The craft grew, and excavations
in the 1970's and 1980's of Dublin and later of Waterford testify to active
trading towns. Money was minted by the kings of Dublin from 997, and it became
quite widespread in Irish society as well. The Vikings themselves seem to have
become Christians during the 900's.
Ireland had few exports that could pay for foreign luxury. Skins from the
large herds of cattle were made as parchment for the monasteries' writing rooms,
and prisoners of war were made in large numbers as slaves via Dublin to both
England, the continent and the Nordic countries.
The Irish kings sought to copy the lifestyle of the Norman kings, by,
like Connaught King Turloch O'Connor (1088-1156), erecting castles in the Norman
style. When a disgruntled local king, Dermot MacMurrough of Leinster, in 1169
invited Norman warriors from Wales to assist in the struggle for power, a new
invasion was opened.
History of Ireland - 1169-1691
Ireland (History - 1169-1691), Between Celts and English (1169-1534)
England's presence in Ireland dates back to 1169, when Richard De Clare (d.
1176), Earl of Pembroke, who allied with Dermot MacMurrough occupied large parts
of Eastern Ireland and aided the conquest of Dublin by 1171-72. The request for
help was originally addressed to Henry II, but as his attention was focused
primarily on the continent, the king's involvement was limited to allowing
Dermot to seek assistance among his subjects. Despite the fact that the invasion
was left to the enterprise of the individual nobles, the conquest progressed
relatively quickly, and in the middle of the 1300's. was 3/4of
the island under English supremacy. The lack of support from the home country,
however, meant that the British were unable to carry out a systematic
subjugation of the archipelago, and their presence at that time was therefore
hardly a significant threat to the economic and political life of Ireland. The
magnates remained a minority, and after just a few generations, they differed
neither in language nor dress significantly from the native petty kings. The
fact that the immigrant nobility did not represent a sustainable alternative to
the traditional Celtic way of life can be seen, among other things. read that
the English-minded part of the population in the 1400's. was largely confined to
the coastal areas, the larger cities, and the immediate vicinity of Dublin,
called the Pale.
The Celtic renaissance was evident by a violent flourishing of interest
in the original literature, but also many attempts by the statutes
of Kilkenny to prevent any intercourse with the Celts testified that the English
were culturally in retreat. The autonomy of the Irish reached its peak with
Gerald (Garret More) Fitzgerald (d. 1513), Earl of Kildare, representative of
the English Crown 1477-94 and 1496-1513, who by virtue of his kinship with both
Celts and English personified the fusion of the two population groups.
The final conquest of Ireland (1534-1691)
Had the Irish during the War of the Roses been largely left to themselves,
marked 1500-t. a crucial turning point in the island's history. The House of
Tudor had ambitions to play an active role on the continent, and the fear of
seeing Ireland as a springboard for an attack on England quickly created a need
for a more long-term policy towards the islanders. By 1536, the Irish
Parliament, recruited exclusively from the English colony, had recognized the
King as head of the Church of Ireland on the basis of the Act of Supremacy of
1534; and when Henry VIII in 1541 was the first to be crowned King of Ireland,
it was yet another underlining of the desire to tie the Irish people closer to
the crown. The Reformation left a few traces outside the Pale, but the
requirement that the Celtic nobility should stand in a vassal relationship with
the king was an important means of controlling the possession of land by the
The pervasive feudalization of the Irish aristocracy led to a widespread
uprising in Ulster, the so-called New Year's War of 1594-1603, and after the
defeat a large-scale expulsion of the Catholic landowners in favor of imported
Protestants from England, plantation was initiated. The method had
already been used in Munster, but it was only in Ulster that the decision
entailed a radical change in the existing structure of society.
The antagonism of the increasingly powerful Protestant parliament in England
eventually forced the Irish to join around Charles I (see Confederation
of Kilkenny), but his defeat in the English Civil War meant that ownership of
land was then reserved for Catholics who had not carried arms against the
republic. After the Restoration in 1660, Charles II sought to some extent to
mitigate the consequences of Cromwell's policy, but the Act of Settlement 1662)
did not shake the fact that the Catholics, who still owned 60% of Ireland's land
in 1640, had lost all economic significance. James II was, especially after the
expulsion from England in 1688, more responsive to the demand for land and
religious tolerance, but the defeats of William III of Orange's troops
at Boyne in 1690 and at Aughrim the following year and the conclusion of peace
at Limerick marked, that it was over with the Catholics as a political power
Ireland (History - 1691-1914)
Ireland (History - 1691-1914), English rule and demands for independence
The defeat of the uprising in 1691 was the beginning of Ireland's subjugation
under Anglo-Anglican rule. The Catholic majority of the population
(approximately 70%) was excluded from offices as well as from the right to vote
locally and to Parliament, and the Catholic Church and education were
suppressed. Moreover, according to the so-called Penal Laws, Catholics were not
allowed to own or lease land, but only rent on termination. The Catholic part of
the population possessed around 1690 still approximately 20% of the earth, 100 years
later the number was reduced to approximately 5%.
Ireland was ruled as a conquered country, and the country's economic
interests, wool production, were subordinated to England. Just under 1
million Presbyterians in Northern Ireland had the right to vote, but not to
stand for election, and here constituted an economically important, partly
land-owning middle class, while approximately 1/2 million. Anglicans
owned 5/6 of Ireland's land and dominated Parliament in
Already in the 1700's. the foundation was laid for a positive discrimination
of and a differentiated social and economic development in the predominantly
Protestant Ulster province. However, the American Revolution and increased
Irish self-awareness meant a relaxation of the oppressive legislation: the
Presbyterians gained equality, the Parliament in Dublin increased power, and in
the 1790's the remaining Penal Laws were repealed under the influence of the
In 1791, the Society of United Irishmen was formed with demands for Catholic
emancipation and later full Irish independence. In return, the Orange Society
(see orangists) was established in Ulster in 1795, claiming the position of the
Protestants and the union with England. A French attempt to support Irish
independence failed, and in 1798 a Catholic uprising was bloodily defeated
England then set out against the Irish Parliament, which abolished itself in
1800 after pressure and bribery. On 1 January 1801, the union between Ireland
and England entered into force. The Irish now had a seat in Westminster, but
the Catholics remained without political rights. A new attempt at rebellion in
1803 by the Society of United Irishmen failed.
Guerrilla activity had existed in Ireland since the 1700's, the so-called
Whiteboys, and violence and looting increased from the 1820's. With the
lawyer Daniel O'Connell as leader, demands were now made for the right to vote
for the Catholics, which was implemented in 1829, and in 1830-41 the whig
governments in Westminster curtailed the power of the Anglican State
Church. O'Connell also demanded from 1833 that the union with England be
abolished, and in the following years he gained great support for the so-called
Ireland was ravaged by potato blight 1845-47; it haunted the whole of Europe
in those years, but had catastrophic consequences in Ireland, when large
sections of the population of now 8 million. were dependent on potatoes as daily
food. It is estimated that approximately 1 mio. died of starvation or
comorbidities. There had from the 1700's. found a still Irish-Catholic emigration
place, which was now greatly increased to especially the United States. The
population fell to approximately 5 mio. in 1880 and continued to decline. Poor harvest
years could still well into the second half of the 1800's result in widespread
distress in the rural population.
A new nationalist uprising, launched by the Young Ireland Association in
1848, was put down, but the demand for Irish independence was continued by the
Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and by the exile organization in the United
States, the Fenian Brotherhood (see the Phoenicians).
In 1869 Gladstone abolished the Anglican State Church and in 1870
strengthened the legal position of the tenants vis-à-vis the landowners. An
incipient change of ownership led to 35% of Ireland's farmers owning their land
Agricultural crisis and struggle for the Home Rule (approximately 1870-1914)
The agricultural crisis of the mid-1870's further aggravated the situation. In
1879, the organization Land League was established as a tool to promote the
continued transfer of land into Irish hands, and it waged a militant battle
against English landowners, tenants, etc. In connection with the Land League's
activity, which resulted in murder and looting,. the concept of boycott.
At the same time, from 1870, demands for self-government, the Home Rule,
were raised in Parliament by CS Parnell. He was, as leader of the Irish in the
House of Commons, the tongue in cheek in the parliamentary balance and pursued a
militant anti-British policy in Ireland.
In 1885, Gladstone was overthrown by Parnell due to dissatisfaction with his
moderate Irish reforms, but Gladstone now accepted the Home Rule, ie. a
parliament in Dublin with full sovereignty with the exception of the areas of
foreign policy, defense and trade, and he returned to power with Parnell's
Parnell's involvement in a divorce case split the Irish party and ended his
political career, and Gladstone was stopped by the House of Lords in his fight
for the Home Rule. The Irish fæsteres position, however, was continuously
enhanced with new laws in 1885, 1891, 1893, 1909, and the number of its owned
farmers increased to comprise about 2/3 of the bond in
the class 1918th
The constant unrest in the countryside severely weakened Irish agriculture in
the last decades of the 1800's, at the same time as Denmark and the Netherlands
conquered the British food market. This widened the gap between the in many
places backward, Catholic and predominantly agricultural-oriented Southern
Ireland and the Protestant Ulster with a widespread textile industry, shipyards
in Belfast and a more progressive agriculture, based on medium-sized farms.
In 1910, the Irish votes in Parliament became decisive again, and in 1912 it
was decided to give Ireland the Home Rule, which the House of Lords could now
delay for two years but not stop. The Protestants of Ulster turned against this
development and in 1913 formed a provisional government and an illegal army of
100,000 men, the Ulster Volunteers, under the leadership of Edward Carson. The
Catholic majority responded by setting up Irish Volunteers of 180,000 men, and
an Irish Civil War threatened when World War I broke out in 1914.
Ireland (History - from 1914)
Ireland (History - from 1914), Irish independence (1914-1923)
The outbreak of war caused the Union government to postpone the practical
implementation of the Home Rule until peacetime. By agreeing to a home rule
system which, in practice, could mean a division of Ireland, the hitherto
dominant Irish Parliamentary Party had become vulnerable to militant
republicanism. To prevent a split, the party's leader, John Redmond,
successfully called on the majority of the Catholic civilian army, the Irish
Volunteers, to join the British Army. The militant movement Irish Republican
Brotherhood (IRB), see the Phoenicians, used the absence of a domestic defense
force to stage a long-planned coup, led by Patrick Pearse, which, together with
its "Provisional Government", proclaimed an independent Republic of Ireland on
24.4.1916 (Easter Monday) from the Occupied Headquarters in Dublin. However, the
Easter uprising did not receive the support of the civilian population, and
militarily the uprising was a failure. However, when the British government
demonstrated its power by executing 17 of the uprising leaders and later under
the impression of failing war on the continent threatened to carry out a forced
expulsion in Ireland, popular sentiment in Southern Ireland turned from the
Irish Parliamentary Party to Arthur Griffith's hitherto insignificant
party. Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin won the election in 1918 with a landslide victory
and put himself at the head of a provisional "Irish Assembly" led byEamon De
In 1921, Sinn Féin succeeded in a strategy that combined political pressure
with a tacit acceptance of the unauthorized Irish Republican Army (IRA).)
guerrilla war against the British government administration and law enforcement,
to force negotiations with the British government. These led to the conclusion
of an Anglo-Irish Treaty on 6 December 1921, which approved the establishment of
the Irish Free State, which consisted of the 26 southern counties, and a
Northern Irish state of six counties with provisional home rule within the
British Union. However, it was not only the partition of Ireland but also a
provision that members of the future Irish Parliament should swear allegiance to
the British King that made the treaty unacceptable to groups within Sinn Féin
and the IRA. Sinn Féin was split into a wing, led by Arthur Griffith and Michael
Collins, which accepted the terms of the treaty, and a Republican wing,
supported by Eamon De Valera. Although De Valera at the election in June 1922
had to see his wish for a rejection of the treaty rejected by a large majority
of voters, the controversy triggered a short but bloody civil war, which
cost Collins his life, yet in May 1923 ended in a clear victory for the
From Free State to Republic (1923-59)
At the subsequent election in August 1923, supporters of the Anglo-Irish
Treaty under the party name Cumann na nGaedheal won just under half of the 128
seats in the new parliament. However, when Sinn Féin decided not to take his own
44 seats, the new government under WT Cosgrave could rule without opposition
until 1927, when De Valera returned to parliamentary politics at the head of the
newly formed party Fianna Fáil. Cosgrave's government sought to rebuild a
foundation for an Irish economy that had been weakened by the loss of the
industrialized northeastern areas of the island. In addition, efforts were made
to re-establish the social order that had been disrupted by years of war and
social anarchy; a significant support for this came from the Catholic hierarchy
and the public administration, which was a legacy of the Union era.
||William T. Cosgrave
||Eamon De Valera
||John A. Costello
||Eamon De Valera
||John A. Costello
||Eamon De Valera
||John M. Lynch
||John M. Lynch
||Charles J. Haughey
||Charles J. Haughey
||Charles J. Haughey
By appointing a number of prominent Protestant businessmen, lawyers and
cultural figures to the new chamber of the new Irish Parliament, the Senate, and
by accepting the existing north-south borders in 1925, Cosgrave also regained
some goodwill among economically powerful Southern Irish Protestants. On the
other hand, his government, which represented the socially disadvantaged in the
countryside and in the cities, never gained the support of the third of the
population who had been politically marginalized in 1923, or of smaller peasants
and economically disadvantaged groups. This led to the De Valera and Fianna Fáil
party in coalition with the small Labor Party in the 1932 election being able to
take power from Cosgrave. His own party soon disbanded, after a merger with two
smaller parties to re-emerge in 1933 asFine Gael.
However, despite its promises of rapid industrialization of the economy and a
commitment to close cooperation between the private and public sectors, De
Valera failed to improve the national economy, which was severely hampered by
the world crisis of the 1930's. His decision to withhold Irish farmers' interest
payments on loans taken out in Britain before independence also led to a costly
economic war on tariffs with the British government, tariff war. This
conflict was a parallel to his government's implementation of a more symbolic
break with Britain, namely the abolition of the Republican-hated allegiance to
the British royal house and the adoption of a new constitution for an Irish
republic in 1937. Here the state was given the double name Éire/Ireland. and
was re-established with a Gaelic-Catholic profile. However, the outbreak of
World War II, in which Ireland began its policy of neutrality with the continued
division of the Irish island as a justification, meant that the official
proclamation of the Republic of Ireland did not take place until 1949. The
British response to the proclamation of Ireland's withdrawal from the
Commonwealth of Nations was a law of Ireland confirming the status of the
Northern Ireland State, Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom.
Economic growth and modernization (from 1959)
When Eamon De Valera ended his third and final term as Prime Minister in 1959
to become his country's president, which he was until 1973, Ireland was on the
verge of dramatic change, which in a few decades transformed the conservative
agricultural society into a modern, liberal society with a significant
industrial sector. De Valera's successor, Sean Lemass, broke previous
governments' failed economic protectionism and sought to integrate Ireland into
the international market economy.
||Eamon De Valera
||Michael D. Higgins
As a result, Ireland gained a share in the general economic recovery in the
West in the 1960's and began to free itself from its previous dependence on the
British market. It managed to bring the continued high rate of emigration to a
temporary halt until it picked up again when an economic downturn set in from
the late 1970's. As large overseas investments in the production of information
technology for the European market, together with massive bloc subsidies from
the EU in the 1980's and 1990's, transformed Ireland into a high-growth economy,
emigration and very high unemployment began to fall sharply again.
|ca. 7000 - 6000 BC
|approx. 4000 BC
||Agriculture, Neolithic field systems in Western Ireland.
|approx. 3500 BC
||Megalitgrave; dolmens, giant burial chambers and burial sites.
|approx. 2000 BC
||Bronze Age; establishment of mining.
|approx. 300 BC
||Celtic art is introduced.
|approx. 100 BC
||Iron Age; ramparts and fortifications.
||Christianity is introduced; small kingdoms, but common legal
order. Monasticism develops into a secular power.
||The monastic reform movement Céli Dé.
||The first Viking attacks.
||The Vikings build Dublin.
||An Irish army defeats a large group of Vikings at the Battle of
||After several attempts, the English succeed in conquering Dublin and
Eastern Ireland with the help of Irish petty kings.
||Most of Ireland comes under English supremacy. The English are
assimilated and Irish culture retains its distinctiveness. Only the area
around Dublin (the Pale) is dominated by the English.
||The Irish Parliament recognizes the English King as the head of the
||Henry VIII of England is crowned King of Ireland.
||The Nine Years' War between the Irish nobility and the English,
which then promoted the influx of Protestants.
||The English king restricts the right of Catholics to own land; their
economic and political influence is minimized.
||James II of England's armies is defeated by William III of Orange.
||The Irish Catholic majority loses the right to vote and the right to
office (Penal Laws). Ireland is ruled as an occupied country by the
English; Parliament is dominated by the Anglican minority.
||Relaxation of Catholic conditions.
||The last remnants of Penal Laws are repealed.
||The Society of United Irishmen is established with demands for the
equality of Catholics and Irish independence.
||Parliament repeals itself.
||Union between England and Ireland; only the Protestants get a seat
in the English Parliament.
||The establishment of Irish freedom movements; incipient guerrilla
||Catholics are given the right to vote.
||The potato plague is raging, emigration to the United States is
||The legal position of the tenant farmers vis-à-vis the landowners is
strengthened and the Irish ownership of the land is growing. Home Rule
||Limited Home Rule Introduced; Parliament in Dublin.
||Parliament in London adopts extended Home Rule for Ireland, but the
scheme is postponed. Drafts for Civil War; the Protestants formed in
1913 the Voluntary Civilian Army Ulster Volunteers and the Catholics
||The Easter Uprising; the proclamation of an independent Irish
republic defeated by the English military.
||The Irish War of Independence.
||The Irish Free State and a Northern Ireland state with Home Rule are
||Adoption of a Constitution of the Republic of Ireland (Éire).
||WW2; Ireland neutral.
||Official Proclamation of the Republic of Ireland; withdrawal from
the Commonwealth of Nations.
||Member of the Community.
||The Anglo-Irish Agreement.
The increase in prosperity, urbanization and openness to foreign countries,
which culminated in Ireland's accession to the EC in 1973, led to major changes
in lifestyles and values. The parallel political liberalization, symbolized by
the election of Mary Robinson as president in 1990, meant a breach of the
traditional understanding between the state and the Catholic Church. The church
had hitherto had an informal veto over parts of social and health policy
legislation and had also used its education monopoly and censorship to protect
"Irish" values from secularisation and "foreign" influence.
The political change of course also had an effect on relations with Northern
Ireland and the United Kingdom. The rhetorical confrontation policy of the 1950's
was replaced in the 1960's by a pragmatic dialogue between the Prime Minister of
Ireland Sean Lemass and the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Terence O'Neill
in an attempt to overcome the IRA's violent campaign in the border areas between
the two states. The escalation of the conflict in Northern Ireland after 1969
put an end to this dialogue, but over time made Irish politicians see the
ethnic-national conflict as a problem that could only be solved if the interplay
between historically conditioned relations were taken into account. between
majorities and minorities, north and south and the governments of Dublin and
London. Fearing that the conflict would spread to the politically stable and
culturally homogeneous Irish state, In 1985, the Irish Government sought
co-operation with the British Government. It resulted in the conclusion of the
same yearAnglo-Irish Agreement and later, from 1993, in the so-called Downing
Street Declaration. The declaration initiated the peace process that culminated
in 1998 with the Good Friday Agreement, an internationally recognized treaty
which, among other things, reintroduced Northern Ireland autonomy and removed
the Republic's constitutional requirements for Northern Ireland. Although the
peace process has not yet been said to be complete, either at the popular or
institutional level, today there is both formal and real peace in Northern
Ireland, especially after the IRA recognized the Good Friday Agreement and in
July 2005 declared its armed campaign complete.
Following the 2002 parliamentary elections, the parties Fianna Fáil and the
Progressive Democrats formed a new government with Bertie Ahern as Prime
Minister. Sinn Féin went ahead and won five seats, while the election's big
loser, Fine Gael, went from 54 to 31 seats. Since the election, however, opinion
polls have pointed to a future strengthening of Fine Gael and a further
strengthening of Sinn Féin, which is thereby becoming an important political
factor. Ahern resigned in 2008 and was replaced by Brian Cowen. The government
and most of the established parties suffered a major defeat when Irish voters in
June 2008 rejected the Treaty of Lisbon, which was to streamline cooperation in