Ireland. In the Irish abortion vote on May 25, nearly 70% of voters wanted a change in legislation that is considered one of Europe’s toughest. The old law only allowed abortion when the woman’s life was in danger and not when the fetus suffered severe injuries or when the pregnancy occurred due to rape or incest. In addition, 14 years in prison were risked if you did an abortion. According to the country’s health ministry, since 1983, 170,000 women have been forced to travel abroad to carry out abortions. According to Countryaah.com, Dublin is the capital city of Ireland, a country located in Northern Europe. The country’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar promised after the election that a new abortion law would be presented before the turn of the year. The new proposal could lead to abortion being allowed until week 12.
In October another referendum was held, this time it was about how to deal with blasphemy. The Constitution says that “blasphemous, upsetting or obscene issues are a crime to be punished by law”. However, no one has been convicted of the crime since 1703. Now, in any case, the Hail Law is removed with the support of 65% of the voters. At the same time, it was the presidential election that Michael D. Higgins won with nearly 56 percent of the vote; businessman and TV personality Peter Casey came in second place with just over 23 percent. The turnout was low, only 44%.
In February, Mary Lou McDonald was elected party leader in Sinn Fein. She succeeded Gerry Adams, who had announced at the end of 2017 that he would leave his post. The election of the 48-year-old McDonald means a generational shift in the party. She has not been directly involved in the 30-year Northern Ireland conflict.
On March 30, the Irish were able to go to the pub for the first time in 91 years and have a beer on a Good Friday. A law of 1927 that was now abolished on religious grounds prohibited alcohol sales on the Christian holidays, Good Friday, Christmas Day and Saint Patrick’s Day (the latter was excluded from the law as early as 1960). This year’s Friday sales at the pubs were estimated to raise € 40 million.
Due to the EU’s new data protection law GDPR which came into force on May 25, and to avoid being covered by it, Facebook in April chose to legally move 1.5 billion accounts from Ireland to North America. So far, Facebook has allowed 1.9 billion accounts from users outside the US and Canada to have their legal domicile in Ireland, where they are headquartered in Dublin.
At the end of June, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Ireland had to start preparing its ports and airports for the consequences of a so-called hard Brexit, that is, a UK exit without a free trade agreement with the EU. However, Ireland has not yet made any preparations for physical border checks against Northern Ireland.
The Irish lower house approved a new law in July which says that all the coal, oil and gas shares in the state investment fund should be sold. The value of these shares amounts to a total of EUR 300 million. Ireland is now the first country in the world to completely dispose of shareholdings in companies that deal with fossil fuels. It is expected to happen “as soon as possible”, at least within five years.
Pope Francis visited Ireland in August. It was the first time since 1979 that a pope visited the country. During the visit, he was given the opportunity to condemn the sexual abuse and forced adoptions of the Irish Catholic Church. In a speech in Dublin, he said: “The failure of the church authorities – bishops, priests and others – to deal with these disgusting crimes has rightly led to upset feelings and remains a source of pain and shame within the Catholic community.”
In September, the US computer giant Apple had paid its giant tax debt of over € 13 billion to Ireland. Therefore, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager now proposes to withdraw the legal process against Apple. It’s a tax dispute that has been going on since 2016 (Apple has received illegal tax benefits in the country, according to the European Commission), but since Apple has appealed the decision, it is likely that the last word has not yet been said.
Upset feelings were aroused when a 27-year-old man was released from rape against a 17-year-old girl for wearing string panties. According to the man’s defender, the girl’s string panties may have implied that she “was open to meeting someone and being with someone”. In November, therefore, the call #ThisIsNotConsent (“this is not consent”) started on the Internet.