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Ireland Country Report

Country Risk Level

Low

Overview

Executive Summary

Ireland is governed by a coalition comprising the two centrist parties, Fianna Fáil (FF) and Fine Gael (FG), and the Greens. The government’s stability is likely to be tested by intra-coalition power struggles between FG and FF, which risk sidelining the smaller Green Party.Domestic and international businesses are likely to benefit from continued low corporate tax rates of 12.5% and other favourable conditions, while the government is currently focusing predominantly on mitigating the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 virus pandemic. The pandemic caused Ireland to move from record levels of employment to record unemployment within just a few months. Hence, stimulating employment and getting those currently unemployed due to the virus outbreak back to work will be core challenges for the government, which has pledged to create 200,000 new jobs by 2025.As a small and open economy, Ireland has been severely affected by the COVID-19 virus outbreak. IHS Markit expects a substantial annual contraction in private consumption and underlying economic activity, with the second quarter of 2020 marking the nadir, followed by a strong technical rebound from the third quarter that will fade over time.The adjusted unemployment rate declined to 15.4% in August from its peak of 28.2% in April. However, new restrictions in several regions and in Dublin in response to an acceleration of new COVID-19 infections pose a downside risk to the recovery into the fourth quarter.Ireland’s public debt is relatively high, at two-and-a-half times government revenues. However, by late March 2020, European Central Bank measures had stabilised the yields on Irish government debt at low levels. Nevertheless, Ireland is more constrained fiscally than some other Western European countries.

Operational Outlook

Ireland is usually a favourable business and investment destination but there is currently a heightened risk of disruption caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus outbreak and related emergency measures. Dublin and Cork in particular attract foreign investment. One disadvantage is that consumer prices are among the highest in the eurozone, undermining business competitiveness. Although the position of public-sector trade unions remains strong, barely any mass industrial action causing serious business disruption has taken place over recent years and private-sector unions have limited influence.

Terrorism

Although there is no precedent of major jihadist activity, there is nonetheless a moderate risk of low-capability lone-actor attacks perpetrated by radicalised individuals sympathising with non-state armed groups such as the Islamic State. Jihadists may attempt to use Ireland as a staging post for attacks against the UK – regarded as a more high-profile target – because of the lower capabilities of Irish security forces and the current ease of travel between the countries. Similarly, there is a threat of dissident republican groups using Ireland as an operating base, but mainly to carry out attacks in the UK region of Northern Ireland.

Crime

Ireland is a major stopping point in the smuggling of narcotics to Europe, and internecine fighting between gangs involved in such activities has become noticeably more violent in recent years. Criminal gangs are now more able to diversify into activities formerly "reserved" for paramilitary groups. Brexit poses a risk to overall security along the Irish border with the UK region of Northern Ireland, although both the UK and Irish governments have made commitments to preserve the current arrangements. In the event of a delayed disorderly Brexit from January 2021, it is likely that border forces and police would be deployed along the border to maintain law and order.

Social Stability

The probability of larger demonstrations has declined with the restrictions in place to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but protest activity has recently begun to pick up again. Overall, unrest causing business interruption lasting more than one day or asset damage remains unlikely. Social and industrial relations are highly unlikely to deteriorate substantially, reducing the risk of mass protests or labour strikes. Austerity measures have led to large-scale protests in Dublin in the past but these are less likely now given the government’s spending plans.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Natural Risks

Many ferry services run between Ireland and the United Kingdom; delays and cancellations due to adverse weather conditions sometimes occur, particularly in winter months.

Adverse winter weather conditions have also been known to disrupt road and air travel.

Transportation

Driving is on the left-hand side of the road, and the drivers' seat in local cars is on the right-hand side of the car. The road network is very well-maintained, except in the countryside where roads can be very narrow with poor lighting. Speed limits are 50 km/h (30 mph) in urban areas (with the exception of Dublin where a speed limit of 30 km/h [20 mph] has been introduced), 60-100 km/h (40-70 mph) outside urban areas according to road signs, and 110 km/h (70 mph) on highways. Traffic wardens are very strict about parking; it is advised to refer to the official Rules of the Road before driving in Ireland.

Public transportation is efficient and safe. Most major cities are well-served by an extensive bus network. Dublin has two train stations, Heuston Station and Connolly Station, each linking the capital to western/southern regions, and to northern regions (including Northern Ireland) respectively. Dublin International Airport (DUB), as well as Cork (ORK) and Shannon (SNN) airports, offer regular flights to most European and American cities throughout the year.

Dublin counts around 13,000 taxis; they all feature yellow "for hire" signage on the roof that reads "taxi" or "tacsi." Most of them are equipped with meters. Although it is considered safe to hail a taxi off the streets, it is recommended to book one in advance from a licensed taxi company.

Practical Information

Climate

Ireland has a typically oceanic climate, moderate and humid with frequent rain showers. Summers are mild and winters are rarely very cold (temperatures seldom fall below 0°C). During the winter months the country sees a lot of rain. July and August are the hottest months while May and June are the sunniest.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +353
Police: 112 or 999
Fire Dept.: 112 or 999
Ambulance: 112 or 999

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal