Ireland. From the autumn of 2008, Ireland was hit hard by the international financial crisis and the subsequent recession. In addition, the economy continued to deteriorate in 2009. Particularly vulnerable was the construction and real estate industry. Unemployment had risen to 11 percent in April.
Already at the beginning of the year, the government announced tough savings due to ever lower tax revenues. Plans to introduce a new pension contribution for civil servants aroused protests. In February, 100,000 people in Dublin demonstrated to show their displeasure. They claimed that ordinary Irish people had to pay for the crisis, while the banks escaped. However, both chambers of Parliament approved the new pension contribution at the end of the same month. At the same time, the government presented new rescue packages for two of the largest banks, Allied Irish Bank (AIB) and Bank of Ireland.
The crisis budget presented in April included, among other things, increased income tax rates of between 2 and 6 percent, higher care fees and reduced unemployment benefits for young people. In addition, the Christmas bonus for social grants would be abolished. Despite this, the state budget deficit was expected to be well above the 3 percent of GDP that the EU provides. Most of them argued that it would take several years for Ireland to achieve that goal.
According to countryaah, the unpopular measures put severe strain on the government coalition between Fianna Fáil and the Green Party. Both parties saw their popularity decline. This was particularly noticeable in the June European elections, with the opposition Fine Gael becoming the largest party with four seats, followed by Fianna Fáil with three, as many as the Labor Party. The Socialist Party as well as an independent candidate got a seat each. Libertas, created by businessman Declan Ganley ahead of the referendum on the EU Lisbon Treaty in 2008, however, failed to enter the European Parliament.
For Fianna Fáil, the result was the worst the party has made in an election since the 1920s. It did worse in the municipal elections, which also became a setback for the Green Party. However, the two government parties survived a vote of no confidence in Parliament on June 10, with the votes being 85-79.
The following month, Prime Minister Brian Cowen announced that a new referendum on the Lisbon Treaty would be held on October 2. This is after receiving guarantees from other EU countries that Ireland would not be forced to give up its neutrality, its ban on abortion or the right to decide on its taxes. The Irish government, as it has done in other EU countries, could not allow the Parliament to approve the treaty as all amendments to the constitution must be confirmed in a referendum. Unlike in 2008, the jas side now carried out an intensive campaign and just over two-thirds of the Irish voters voted yes to the treaty. Concern about what would happen to the economy if it became a no was considered to have played a major role in the exit. 58 per cent of the Irish voted in the election.
Later in October it looked as if the Green Party would leave the government, but the coalition then agreed Fianna Fáil, among other things, demanded that 500 new teacher services be established and a new carbon tax introduced. In December, Parliament approved a second and very tough budget for 2010 that included savings of more than EUR 4 billion, which would be achieved, among other things, by reducing salaries for public servants (including ministers) and cuts in the welfare system.
In the spring, a government commission (the Ryans Commission), which has been commissioned by the government to investigate cases of sexual abuse and other abuses by thousands of children that happened at institutions run by the Catholic Church, submitted its report. According to it, the Church had known what was going on. The abuse had taken place from the 1930s and into the 1990s. However, the government rejected the demands of the public and political opposition that the government should tear up a seven-year-old settlement that meant that the Catholic Church would not be held accountable for these crimes if it contributed money to a victim compensation fund.
In the late autumn came another report on Catholic priests’ sexual abuse of children. The so-called Murphy Commission had investigated how church leaders had handled charges against 46 priests in Dublin’s diocese from 1975 to 2004. In its report, the commission showed how leading representatives of the Catholic Church had failed to act against the perpetrators and, in order to avoid scandals, had concealed the abuse. In several cases, high-ranking police officers had known about the charges against the priests but had chosen not to intervene. One priest had admitted that he had abused over 100 children, another that he had systematically committed abuses against children for 25 years. Four bishops who had previously served in the diocese left their posts at the end of the year. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin apologized to the victims and all Irish.
A new law came into force during the year in which people of the same sex who lived in long-term relationships would receive the same rights as the parties to heterosexual marriage.