Learn more about specific causes in Ireland that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentIreland enjoys rich natural water resources and considerably better air quality than its EU neighbors.1 However, Ireland continues to experience the effects of climate change, such as a reduction in the number of frost days and the length of frost season.3 Additionally, Ireland has seen a decrease in annual rainfall in Northern and Western regions of the country along with a growing annual temperature. Six of the ten warmest years in Ireland’s history have occurred since 1990.2 The government is supporting the EU initiative to ban certain chemicals used in agriculture that have been proven to harm the bee population.3
FamilyDomestic abuse and child abuse are serious concerns in Ireland. The UN has identified Irish policy on domestic violence as inadequate and ineffective in the protection of those affected by domestic abuse.1 Violence against women is also a prevalent problem in Ireland; around 17,000 women called the Women’s Aid hotline in 2016 and reported abuse, and a further 3,800 cases of child abuse were reported to the company.2 Alcoholism also negatively affected many children and families in Ireland. An estimated 1.35 million Irish are harmful drinkers, and about 75% of alcohol consumption is binge drinking.3
Human RightsPrimary human rights concerns in Ireland include poor prison conditions, gender inequality in the workplace, discrimination towards immigrants, domestic abuse, and homelessness. The US Department of State also reports discrimination against minority communities such as Traveller and Romani.1 Violence against women is also a prevalent problem in Ireland, and 1 in 4 women has experienced sexual assault in her lifetime. Women’s Aid has expanded their hotline services due to high demand.2 While most prisons in the country meet international standards, some prisons were found to be without proper sanitation facilities, resulting in the use of chamber pots by the prisoners and detainees. In recent years, there have also been several reports of societal discrimination and violence against immigrants and ethnic minorities, particularly the country’s African Read More and indigenous populations.3 Show Less
EducationIreland’s primary school enrollment rate is currently at 95%1 and the adult literacy rate is at 99%.2 Ireland attracts more international students than most other countries; 14% of all master’s and 23% of all doctorate students are international. The government is working to decrease the disparity between men and women in education — specifically in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In 2014, 22% of men studied science compared to only 11% of women.3
PovertyApproximately 8.2% of Ireland’s population lives below the poverty line, and the country’s unemployment rate is at 8%.1 Over 750,000 people in Ireland are currently living in poverty, 220,000 of which are children. 18% of the adults living in poverty are employed. One in five children live in households with incomes below the poverty line. The poverty income is 60% of the median income.2
ReligionIreland’s religious population is largely Roman Catholic, and 78% of the population belongs to the Catholic church. Other religions represented in Ireland include the Church of Ireland (2.7%), other Christian denominations (2.7%), and Islam (1.1%).1 Ireland’s constitution and other laws protect the right to religious freedom. However, in recent years there have been some reports of societal religious discrimination, such as frustration with the wording of religious questions on the census.2
Clean WaterApproximately 98% of Ireland’s population has access to clean drinking water and around 90% have improved sanitation infrastructure.1 An estimated 40% of Ireland’s water supply leaks out of delivery pipes, resulting in expensive water waste that damages Ireland’s long-term water sustainability.2 Several counties in Ireland have received boil water notices recently, meaning that their tap water must be boiled before it is safe to drink. Citizens are calling for Irish Water, the country’s water supply company, to improve their water management and purification methods.3 The Environmental Protection Agency has pushed for Irish Water to inform its consumers of the potentially carcinogenic qualities of their water due to exposure to chemicals in transport, but they have refused. An estimated 400,000 people are drinking the contaminated water.4 Show Less
EconomyIreland has a modern, trade-dependent economy. The once-dominant agricultural sector has now been overtaken by industry and service. Ireland exports mainly to the US, the UK, and Belgium, and imports from the UK, US, and France. The unemployment rate is currently 8%, and 8.2% of the population live below the poverty line.1 Ireland has few barriers to international trade and investment and the labor market remains flexible. Ireland’s efficient business regulations and strict anti-corruption laws have served to stimulate the country’s economic growth despite the 2007 recession.2 Transparency International ranks Ireland 19th out of 176 countries for corruption in the government, and Ireland’s own people score their government 73 of 100 for perceived corruption.3
GovernmentIreland is a parliamentary republic. Ireland gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1921 and the country’s legal system is largely based on the English model, with some modifications. Suffrage is universal for anyone over 18.1 Ireland is a member of the Eurozone and is highly trade-dependent.2 Ireland’s government has strict anti-corruption laws and Transparency International ranks the Irish government 19th out of 176 countries for the government’s effective handling and elimination of corruption.3
HealthThe average life expectancy in Ireland is 81 years of age.1 The country’s under 5 mortality rate is low at 3.6 deaths per 1,000 live births, as is the country's maternal mortality rate at 8 deaths per 100,000 births. Raised blood pressure, obesity, and tobacco use are all health risk factors for adults in the country.2 Alcohol abuse is also a significant health concern in Ireland. 88 deaths each month are attributed to alcohol, as well as over 1,200 cases of cancer each year.3 Ireland has a public government-funded healthcare system.4
ChildrenChild abuse is a significant concern in Ireland, and 7% of child abuse cases in the country involve victims under the age of 4. More than 55% of the sexual and physical abuse against young girls is perpetrated by family members.1 In 2017, Irish policymakers implemented a mandatory reporting law for suspected child abuse.2 Education is compulsory for children in Ireland from age 6 to age 16,3 and the primary school enrollment rate is currently at 95%.4 Ireland’s under five mortality rate is very low at just 3.6 deaths per 1,000 live births.5
AnimalsIreland’s government has set aside multiple protected habitats and reserves in order to protect the native mink, voles, ducks, geese and 190 other types of waterfowl. Ireland also boasts three “Global Geoparks,” parks recognized by UNESCO for geological and historical value.1 The National Parks and Wildlife Service is also involved in the protection of the grasslands and marshes crucial to the variety of birds living in the country.2
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