Society of Ireland

Background and causes

This article is about Ireland's current economic recession and the impact it has had on the country. For the series of banking scandals which Ireland is currently experiencing, see 2008–13 Irish banking crisis. Workers march through Dublin against the Irish financial crisis in 2009 The 2008–13 Irish financial crisis, stemming from the financial crisis of 2007–08, is a major political and economic crisis in Ireland, considered partially responsible for the country's fall into recession for the first time since the 1980s. The country's Irish Stock Exchange (ISEQ) general index reached a peak of 10,000 points briefly in April 2007, though it stood at 1,987 points, a 14-year low, in 24 February 2009 (the last time it stood under the 2,000 level was the middle of 1995).[1] In September 2008, the Irish government—comprising a coalition of Fianna Fail and the Green Party—officially acknowledged that the country had entered recession, with a severe rise in unemployment occurring in the following months. Ireland was the first state in the eurozone to enter recession, as declared by the Central Statistics Office.[2] The numbers of people living on unemployment benefits rose to 326,000 in January 2009—the highest monthly level since records began in 1967—and the unemployment rate rose from 6.5% in July 2008 to 14.8% by July 2012.[3] The weakening conditions drew 100,000 protesters onto the streets of Dublin on 21 February 2009, amid further talk of protests and industrial action.[4] With the banks "guaranteed",[5] and the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) established[6] on the evening of 21 November 2010, the then Taoiseach Brian Cowen confirmed on live television that the EU/ECB/IMF troika would be involving itself in Ireland's financial affairs. Amid the crisis, which coincides with a series of banking scandals, support for the ruling Fianna Fail party crumbled; it fell to third place in one opinion poll conducted by The Irish Times—an unprecedented event in the nation's history—placing behind Fine Gael and the Labour Party, the latter rising above Fianna Fail for the first time. On 22 November, the Greens—junior members of the ruling coalition—called for an election the following year.[7] The February 2011 general election replaced the Fianna Fail-Green Party coalition with the Fine Gael–Labour Party coalition which has remined in power ever since. This coalition continues with the same austerity policies of the previous coalition, offering proof that most of the nation's larger parties favour a similar agenda. Official statistics show a drop in most crimes coinciding with the economic downturn. Burglaries have, however, risen by approximately 10%[8] and prostitution has more than doubled since 2007.[9][10]

Workers march through Dublin against the Irish financial crisis in 2009


ESHSI, Department of Modern History, Trinity College, Dublin, Republic of Ireland Contact: Membership Secretary