Countryaah data, about 90 percent of the population of Ireland belongs to
the Catholic Church, but there are also Anglicans (3
percent) and other Christians (1 percent), including
Presbyterians and Methodists. The remaining are supporters
of other religions (3 percent) or non-religious.
The Catholic Church in Ireland has four archdiocese and
26 dioceses. Anglicans have two archdiocese and 11 dioceses.
Christian schools offer Christian education adapted to the
confession of the children.
The Anglican Church was a state church until 1869, when
church and state were separated. During the nationalist
struggle for secession from Britain, the Catholic Church was
a natural rallying point supporting the struggle of the
people. It had almost full support and strong indirect
power. With the formation of the new republic in 1922, the
church gained great power over the legislation. Several
constitutional changes in the 1920s and 1930s were
characterized by Catholic ideology, such as the prohibitions
on divorce and birth control (1935). The role of the church
was further strengthened in the revised Constitution of
1937. Catholicism was early institutionalized in the school
system, and its ideological influence resulted, among other
things, in the criminalization of "immoral" fiction, such as
James Joyce, and literature on child restraint.
Although the Catholic Church in the 1980s and 1990s
strongly engaged in current political issues, including the
legalization of abortion (referendums 1983 and 1992) and
divorce (referendum 1986 and 1995), its position has changed
dramatically. The church has lost much of its direct
political power, including as head of educational policy and
practice, and as the premier of sexual moral ideology and
practice. The changes started in earnest towards the end of
the 1960s, and coincide with the momentum of modernity in
Ireland, the emergence of the new women's movement and its
demands for change, and from 1973 with the EU membership.
The abolition of the hegemony of the Catholic Church does
not mean that the Irish no longer define themselves as
Christians. Still, up to 90 per cent of the population wants
to keep the Catholic rituals associated with birth, marriage
and death, and although new generations are less religiously
active than their predecessors, Ireland, compared to other
European states, is still a distinct Catholic nation.
In March 2014, it was revealed that all incoming and
outgoing telephone calls to the country's police stations
since the 1980's and up to November 2013 had been recorded.
The scandal cost Justice Alan Shatter the office. He retired
in April. It also cost Fine Gael support in the municipal
elections and the EU elections in May. In the municipal
elections, Fine Gael returned 10.7% to 24.0%. Fine Gael was
no longer the largest party in the municipalities, it was
Fianna Fáil. The winner of the election was Sinn Fein, who
rose 7.4% to 15.2%. At the EU elections, Fine Gael returned
6.8% to 22.3%, but retained its four mandates. Sinn Fein,
who had 0 mandates before, in turn got 3 elected and thus
became the second largest party in terms of mandate.
Britain's attempt to discredit the party by arresting its
chairman,Gerry Adams in Northern Ireland in April gave back.
In April 2014, President Higgins conducted a state visit
to the United Kingdom. The first ever by an Irish president.
In December, the president conducted a state visit to China.
In September, the Ministry of Health issued new
guidelines for granting abortions. Human rights
organizations and the UN Human Rights Council had already
previously criticized Ireland's restrictive access to
abortion. With the new rules, abortion could still not be
granted, even if it was a rape, incest or serious threat to
the mother's life or fetal malformation.
In December 2014, Sinn Fein chairman Gerry Adams should
have visited Gaza, but the Israeli authorities refused him
entry. Adams stated that he was not surprised by the Israeli
authorities' behavior, but disappointed. Ireland, which has
been occupied by Britain for centuries, has widespread
solidarity with Palestine and in 2014 recognized the country
as an independent state.
Also in December, the government announced that it was
reopening the case of the "hoods". In 1978, the European
Court of Human Rights issued a ruling on Britain's treatment
of 14 political prisoners wearing hoods in Northern Ireland.
The court order stated that there had been no torture. But
in 2014, new information emerged revealing that Britain had
withheld information from the court that would have proven
that Britain used torture against the prisoners.
President Higgins visited Britain in April 2015. It was
the first Irish presidential visit to Britain ever. In
December, he visited China on a state visit over a week.
The February 2016 parliamentary election was a stinging
defeat for the ruling Fine Gael party, which went back 16
seats to 50 out of the 158-seat parliament. Even worse was
Labor's social democracy, which lost 26 seats and had to
settle for 7. The great victor was Fianna Fáil, who more
than doubled his mandate from 21 to 44. Sinn Fein was in
several polls predicted to become the country's second
largest party, and then also went ahead 9 seats, but had to
settle for 23. This left it to decide whether it would go in
government. A question that divided the party. In the
following months negotiations were held to form a majority
government, but in May Fine Gail had to form a minority
government based on less than a third of Parliament's
members. There was no basis for forming a majority
government with its old heir apparent Fianna Fáil.
In March-April, Ireland celebrated the 100th anniversary
of the 1916 Easter uprising, paving the way for independence
from British colonial rule.
In June, Britain voted for the UK to leave the EU. A
decision that would also have an impact on Ireland, as the
two countries would now no longer be in the same community.
In addition to the economic consequences for trade between
the two countries, the announcement meant that border
control would have to be established on the border between
Ireland and Northern Ireland.
In June, the United Nations Human Rights Council, in the
case of Mellet vs. Ireland, ruled that Irish abortion
legislation violated the woman's right to freedom from
inhumane and degrading treatment and the right to
non-discrimination. The applicant had to travel to the
United Kingdom to have an abortion despite the fetal's fatal
position. It caused her severe physical and mental distress.
The Committee found that the suffering was compounded by the
stigma that followed from the criminalization of abortion.
In November, the Irish authorities agreed to provide
plaintiff Amanda Mellet with compensation and advice.