Ireland 2

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Ireland 2

CULTURE
LANGUAGE
Official Language: Gaeilge
Common Phrases:
Yes = sea
No = n hea
Thank you = Go raibh maith agat
Thank you very much = Go raibh mle maith agat
You’re welcome = T filte romhat
Please = Ms do thoil , Le do thoil.
Excuse me = Gaibh mo phardn
Hello = Dia dhuit
Goodbye = Sln agat/sln leat
I do not understand = N thuigim
Do you speak … = an labharann t….
What is your name? = Cad is ainm duit?
Nice to meet you. = T thas orm bualadh leat.
How are you? = Conas t t? Cn chaoi a bfhuil t? Caid mar t t?
Wife = bean cile
Husband = fear cile
Daughter = inon
Son = mac
Mother = mthair
Father = athair
Friend = cara
Where is the bathroom? Where is the toilet? = C bfhuil seomra na mban (f) / bfhear (m)?
Education
The period of compulsory education is from six to fifteen years of age. Although children are not obliged to start school until the age of six, 51 per cent of four-year-olds and almost all five-year-olds are enrolled in infant classes in primary schools. The Department of Education and Science direct the educational system.

The primary education sector comprises primary schools, special schools and non-aided primary schools. It serves about 500,000 children. There are just over 3,200 primary schools, which account for the education of 98 per cent of children in this sector. They receive capital funding from the State, supplemented by local contributions. There are funding arrangements for some schools in disadvantaged
areas and for children with special needs. There are 116 special schools and 64 private primary schools. Primary education emphasizes a child-centered approach with a curriculum related to the childs needs and interests.
The second-level sector comprises secondary, vocational, community and comprehensive schools. There are about 370,000 students in this sector attending a total of 768 publicly- aided schools. Of these 445 are secondary schools, accounting for 60 percent of post-primary students.
These schools are privately owned and managed. Most are managed by religious orders, the rest by boards of Governors or by individuals. The State meets over 95 per cent of the cost of the teachers salaries. The 95 percent of secondary schools, which belong to the free education scheme, receive allowances and captivation grants from the State.
Vocational Education Committees administer vocational schools educating 26 percent of post-primary students. The State provides up to 93 per cent of their costs. The committees themselves generate the balance. Community and comprehensive schools receive individual budgets from the State.
Post-primary education consists of a three-year junior cycle followed by a two- or three-year senior cycle. The Junior Certificate examination is taken after three years. In the senior cycle there is an optional Transition Year Programme followed by a choice of three two-year Leaving Certificate programmes.
In addition to the courses provided in third-level institutions, a wide range of vocational education and training courses are offered within the education sector for students who have completed their secondary schooling. Such programmes include a recent initiative to provide the skills required by the international teleservice industry, which is of growing significance in Ireland.
Apprenticeship training is available in designated courses such as engineering ,construction, printing and furniture making. The Department of Education and Science is developing new approaches to adult and continuing education.

The third level education sector consists of universities, technological colleges and colleges of education. All of these are substantially funded by the State and are autonomous and self-governing. In recent years several independent private colleges have opened offering mainly business-related courses.
There are more than 100,000 students in this sector. Almost half of Irelands young people, proceed from second to third level, and 50 per cent of these take degree level programmes.
Religion
The religion of most people in Ireland (Republic) is Roman Catholic. According to the 1991 census 91.6% of the population were Roman Catholics, 2.5% were Church of Ireland (Anglican), 0.4% Presbyterians, 0.1% Methodists and less than O.l% Jewish. About 3% of the population belonged to other religious groupings or have no specific religious beliefs. No information on religion was supplied in respect of 2.4% of the population. The Irish Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion to all citizens.


Food ; Drink:
NEVER skip breakfast in Ireland. Not only is it typically included the price of your hotel room, but it is a delicious experience not to be missed. Eggs, bacon, Irish sausages, black pudding, white pudding, and fried tomatoes are standard. Mushrooms, smoked salmon, and others are sometime included also. All this with a nice pot of tea starts your day off right. Lunch is another story. This is a meal the Irish need to work on. If you order a sandwich, you’re liable to get 2 pieces of bread with 1 thin piece of ham on it, surrounded by 1/2 pound of BUTTER. You are better off going into a pub and ordering a bowl of soup and a scone. The soup is usually delicious and ALWAYS a cream soup. Dinner is another delicious meal in Ireland. The variety of fresh fish (it is an island after all,) beef, pork, or whatever you like is endless. Again, I recommend starting off with the soup. Guinness is a delight. A trip to Ireland is not complete without sampling a pint (or much more) of Guinness. If you’ve tried it in the U.S., prepare yourself, because it is MUCH better and creamier in Ireland! If this is still too bitter for you, try stout called Murphy’s, available all over the south of Ireland. Very SMOOTH (http://hometown.aol.com/RodyK/nomiss.html)!
INFORMATION USEFUL FOR A BUSINESS TRIP
Distance between New York, New York, United States and Dublin, Ireland, as the crow flies 3185 miles (5126 km) (2768 nautical miles) Initial heading from New York to Dublin: northeast (50.1 degrees Initial heading from Dublin to New York: west-northwest (282.7 degrees) (http://www.indo.com/cgi-bin/dist?place1=New+York+City&place2=Dublin%2C+Ireland).

Country Description: Ireland is a highly developed democracy with a modern economy. Automated teller machines (ATMs) are widely available. However, some ATMs, particularly in rural areas, may not accept U.S. bank ATM cards. Most Irish banks will not accept U.S. 100-dollar bills.
Entry Requirements: A passport is necessary, but a visa is not required for tourist or business stays up to three months.
Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are available. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Travelers have found that in some cases, supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including provision for medical air evacuation has proved to be useful.
Crime Information: Ireland has a low rate of violent crime. There is a high incidence of petty crime, mostly theft, burglary, and purse snatching. Thieves target rental cars and tourists, particularly in the vicinity of tourist attractions. The loss or theft abroad of an U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad for ways to promote a trouble-free trip. The pamphlet is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government printing office, Washington, D.C. 20402.
Terrorist Activities: A peace agreement for Northern Ireland was ratified by voters in Ireland and
Northern Ireland on May 22, 1998. Major paramilitary organizations continue to observe cease-fires. Violence by small splinter groups opposed to the peace agreement in Northern Ireland remains a possibility, with at least the potential for some spillover into Ireland.
Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use, or dealing in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.
Road Conditions: Driving is on the left side of the road in Ireland. Motorists without experience in left side drive countries should be extra cautious. Tourists driving on the wrong side of the road are the cause of several serious accidents each year. Road conditions are generally very good, but once off the highway, country roads quickly become narrow and uneven (http://www.indigo.ie/usembassy-usis/).

Current conditions as reported at Dublin, EI Monday, May 03 last updated 6:17 PM EDT: current temp: 48F, fair, wind: from the SE at 6 mph, relative humidity: 83%, barometer: 30.09 inches (www.weather.com)
GEOGRAPHY
Physical features
The island of Ireland is situated in the extreme northwest of Europe between 51.5 and 55.5 degrees north latitude and between 5.5 and 10.5 degrees west longitude. The Irish Sea to the east, which separates Ireland from Britain, is from 17.6 to 192 km (11 to 120 miles) wide and has a maximum depth of about 200 metres (650 feet). Around the other coasts the shallow waters of the Continental Shelf are rather narrow and depths increase rapidly into the Atlantic Ocean.

Total Area 84,421 sq. km (32,595 sq. miles)
Republic of Ireland 70,282 sq. km (27,136 sq. miles)
Northern Ireland 14,139 sq. km (5,459 sq. miles)
Greatest length (N/S) 486 km (302 miles)
Greatest width (E/W) 275 km (171 miles)
Total coastline 3,172 km (1,970 miles)
The island comprises large central lowland of limestone with a relief of hills surrounded by a discontinuous border of coastal mountains that vary greatly in geological structure. The mountain ridges of the south are composed of old red sandstone separated by limestone river valleys. Granite predominates in the mountains of Galway, Mayo and Donegal in the west and northwest and in Counties Down and Wicklow on the East Coast, while a basalt plateau covers much of the northeast of the country. The central plain, which is broken in places by low hills, is extensively covered with glacial deposits of clay and sand. It has considerable areas of bog and numerous lakes.

The island has seen at least two general glaciations and everywhere ice-smoothed rock, mountain lakes, glacial valleys and deposits of glacial sand; gravel and clay mark the passage of the ice.


Climate
Influenced by the Gulf Stream and with the prevailing winds predominantly from the southwest, the climate is equable and temperatures are fairly uniform over the whole country. The coldest months are January and February with mean daily air temperatures of between 4C and 7C, while July and August are the warmest (14C to 16C).May and June are the sunniest months, averaging 5 to 7 hours of sunshine per day. In low-lying areas average annual rainfall is mostly between 800 and 1200mm (31″ to 47″) but ranges from less than 750mm (30″) in some eastern areas to 1500mm (59″) in parts of the west. In mountainous areas annual rainfall may exceed 2000mm (79″).

History
In 1912 Home Rule bill was introduced in Westminster. This brought considerable success to the Irish Parliamentary Party, now led by John Redmond. However, resistance to the measure was strong in northeast Ulster. It was led by Sir Edward Carson who set up the Ulster Volunteers to oppose Home Rule. In response, the Irish Volunteers, largely controlled by the IRB, were founded in Dublin.

The Home Rule bill was finally passed in 1914, but its implementation was shelved upon the outbreak of war. John Redmond encouraged Irishmen to enlist in the British Army hoping this would sustain British support for Home Rule. Others disagreed with this policy and in 1916 the Irish Volunteers, led by Patrick Pearse and the Irish Citizen Army led by James Connolly, staged a rebellion against British rule. The Easter Rising of 1916 was put down but the decision of the British to execute several of the leaders alienated public opinion. In the 1918 general election Sinn Fin totally defeated the Irish Parliamentary Party.

The Sinn Fin representatives now constituted themselves as the first Dil, or independent Parliament, in Dublin. amon de Valera headed the Dil. The British attempt to smash Sinn Fin led to the War of Independence of 1919-21. Michael Collins led the Irish forces. After more than two years of guerilla struggle a truce was agreed. In December 1921 an Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed and 26 counties gained independence as the Irish Free State. Six Ulster counties had been granted their own parliament in Belfast in 1920 and remained within the United Kingdom.

The establishment of the Free State was followed by a civil war between the new Government and those who opposed the Treaty. amon de Valera led those who opposed the treaty. A truce was negotiated in May 1923 but the Civil War claimed the lives of many who had been prominent in the struggle for independence, among them Michael Collins and Cathal Brugha. Despite its brevity, the Civil War was to color attitudes and determine political allegiances for decades.

WT Cosgrave of the Cumann na nGaedheal, later Fine Gael, party, headed the first government of the new State. From the 1930s until the 1970s the Fianna Fail party, founded by amon de Valera, dominated Irish politics. Building on a progressive diminution of the constitutional links between Britain and Ireland, a new constitution was introduced in 1937 and Ireland remained neutral during the second world war. In 1948, the Republic of Ireland Act severed the remaining constitutional links with
Britain. Ireland was admitted to the UN in 1955.

During the last 20 years, coalition governments have, as elsewhere in Europe, been the norm. These coalitions have involved one of the two larger political parties in combination with the Labour Party, Democratic Left or the Progressive Democrats, Irelands membership since 1973 of what is now the European Union has had profound effects. The intervening period has witnessed major changes in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country (http://www.irlgov.ie/iveagh/facts/frame.htm).
ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT
Ireland has one of the best performing economies in the industrialized world. Between 1993 and 1997 the economy expanded by approximately 40 per cent an unprecedented achievement for Ireland. In 1997 alone the economy grew by 9.5%, the fastest growth rate in the OECD area for the third successive year. Between 1998-2000 the annual rate of growth is projected at between 6 and 7 per cent. As recently as 1987 Irish living standards as indicated by private consumption per capita were 65% of the EU average. By 1997, Irish living standards had reached 90% of the EU average.

The unprecedented strong rate of growth is attributable to a range of factors including prudent fiscal and monetary management, social consensus on pay policy which allowed wage moderation, foreign direct investment, EU Structural Funds, an expanding well-qualified labor force, buoyant high-technology and strong growth in domestic demand.

Employment has responded strongly to this output growth. Employment growth in Ireland averaged 3.8% per annum between 1993- 1997. In 1997 Ireland had the highest level of job creation in the industrialized world.

During the period of rapid growth, inflation has remained relatively low: the consumer price index has grown, on average, at less than 2% per annum between 1993-1997. The public finances in Ireland are in a healthy position. In 1997 balance between Government revenues and expenditures was in surplus by 0.9% of GDP. There has been considerable buoyancy in tax receipts. The ratio of general government debt to GDP in 1997 was approximately 66%, a reduction from 95.7% in 1993.

The main economic problem is the level of unemployment but there has been considerable improvement in recent years. The unemployment rate has fallen from 15.7% in 1993 to 10.2% in 1997, a figure just under the EU average.

There is general agreement among the main political parties on the broad direction of economic and social policy. Tripartite programs involving the Government, trade unions and employers have successfully operated in recent years to bring about economic and social improvement.


Irish Economy
The 1999 forecast for real GDP is up to 8% from 7% with the possibility of further upward adjustments as the year progresses. The reasons for the upward revision are fourfold. First, the Exchequer returns for Q199 showed a cumulative surplus of 287 million, compared with 82 million in the same period of 1998. Tax revenues grew by 13.3% in Q199 on a year-on-year basis. On the expenditure side, Exchequer funded capital spending rose at an annual rate of 27%. Second, Januarys retail sales data and car sales figures for Q199 indicate that 1999 will be another year of exceptionally strong growth in personal spending. Third, the property market shows no sign of cooling off. Finally, the cut in official interest rates to 2.5% by the ECB on 8 April should have a stimulatory effect. The main details of their forecasts are outlined in the table opposite.

The annual rate of headline inflation was at 1.4% in March. Prices rose by 0.3% between February and March. Excluding the impact of changes in mortgage interest rates, the CPI rose by 2.4% year-on-year in March. The Irish EU harmonized rate of 2.0% compares with an average annual rate of 0.8% for the eurozone as a whole. There is little prospect of the Irish rate decelerating towards the euro average in the short to medium term, particularly in view of the increasing divergence of economic performance between Ireland and the eurozone average.Furthermore, with the euro subject to further weakness the depreciation of the Irish pound risks adding to inflation in the months ahead.

Official data show that the Irish balance of payments surplus shrank to 1,047m (1.5% of GDP) in 1998, its lowest level since 1994. As a result, estimated GDP growth in 1998 has been revised down to 8.7% from 10%. The data for Q498 contained sizeable revisions to figures for Q1-Q398. Ireland had a merchandise trade surplus of 15,396 in 1998, up 39%. Current transfers, largely from the EU, added a further 1,038m (down from 1,290m in 1997). On the negative side the services balance showed a debit of 7,711m while factor income outflows (largely profit repatriations) totaled 7,676m. The negative service balance reflects the growing debit items relating to the operation of multinational companies in Ireland.

The counterparts of these outflows are the growth in manufacturing output of 18% in 1998 and the 20.3% expansion in the value of exports. Our forecasts for 1999 assume that export growth will slow sharply compared with 1998. This will have an offsetting effect on the negative impact of import services. The higher growth forecast for 1999, referred to above, is due to more buoyancy in respect of domestic demand.


DEMOGRAPHICS
Ireland has been inhabited since Stone Age times. For more than five thousand years peoples moving westwards across the European continent have settled in the country and each new group of immigrants, Celts, Vikings, Normans, English, has contributed to its present population. In 1841, shortly before the Great Famine, the area comprising the present Irish State had a population of over 6.5 million. The next census (1851) showed a massive decline to 5.1 million for the same area, due to deaths from starvation and disease and large-scale emigration.

The outflow thus begun became a dominant feature of the population pattern over the succeeding years. By 1961 the population of the State stood at 2.8 million, the lowest census figure on record. From 1961 onwards the pattern changed. A combination of natural increase and the commencement of inward net migration resulting from increased prosperity produced an average annual rise in population of 0.6% in the
period 1981 to 1986. Between 1986 and 1991, largely as a result of the resumption of emigration, an average annual fall in population of 0.1% was recorded. At the 1991 census the total population of the
State was 3,525,719. In 1994 the population was estimated at 3.571 million. The major centers of population are Dublin (915,000), Cork (174,000), Limerick (75,000), Galway (51,000), Waterford (42,000), and Dundalk (30,000). 59% of the population live in cities and towns of 1,000 people or more. Overall population density is 51 persons per square kilometer with large variations between the east and south, where densities are highest, and the less populous west of the country.

A high proportion of the population is concentrated in the younger age groups. Approximately 43% of the population is under 25 and approximately 27% is under 15.In 1993 for the first time on record the birth rate fell below the minimum population replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman during child-rearing age, to 1.93 births per woman. Total births in 1993 were 49,456 and, if present trends continue, the annual number of births could fall below 40,000 by the year 2007. This compares with a peak of 74,064 births recorded in 1980 (http://www.ireland-information.com/reference/populat.html).


FX RATES
The relationship vis–vis the DMark has been one of gradual decline with two unilateral devaluations of 8% in 1986 and 10% in 1993. The period from 1987 to 1992 was one of virtual exchange rate stability. This was an important contribution towards the recovery in the Irish economy from 1987 onwards.

The chart showing GBP/IEP rate is one of gradual appreciation from the lows of 75p in 1980 back towards parity in 1996. With Ireland more firmly focused on euro entry, the Irish pound weakened versus sterling over the past two years due to the exceptional strength of the UK currency. From here on out, a renewed move towards parity appears likely. Against the US dollar, the Irish pound fell sharply through the first half of the 1980’s before recovering most of the ground by the end of 1987. Since then, the USD/IEP rate has fluctuated within a more narrow rang with a $1.40 rate forming a base. A rate of $1.60 has contained most of the upside since the beginning of the 1990’s. As outlined elsewhere in this Market Focus, we see scope for a move in the USD/IEP rate back toward a $1.55-1.60 range in the course of 1999.

Finally, on a trade-weighted basis, the Irish pound has moved within a wide range. The chart shows the trend over the past 10 years. The index in early 1998 was at its lowest level over the period pushing Irish inflation above 3% this year. The index is now on an upward trend and should continue to do so in 1999, exerting downward pressure on Irish inflation.

Worsening economic conditions mean that UK interest rates have been lowered by a further 0.50% since the beginning of December. As a result, although sterling has remained relatively resilient, it has adopted a weaker tone against the DMark and other ERM currencies. We expect this trend to continue into 1999 with the GBP/ IEP rate moving into a 0.93-0.95p trading range by the third quarter. Low euro interest rates and sterling’s attractiveness as an alternative investment location will limit sterling’s downside against the new currency. However, sterling will continue to be hampered by evidence of a general downturn in the UK economy and the prospect of further interest rate reductions by the Bank of England. This improvement in the GBP/IEP exchange rate will be good news for Irish inflation.The CPI has already shown signs of decelerating with Novembers year-on-year rate falling to 2.1%.
The Irish pound has improved against the dollar over the course of the last month or so. Despite its recent improvement, the US stock market remains jittery. As a result, although euro interest rates have been lowered to 3.00%, the US currency has failed to make any real headway against the DMark. Markets remain concerned about the outlook for the US economy and the possible negative impact of the Brazilian fiscal situation on US growth. In addition to subdued US growth prospects, the dollar is also being undermined by the political scandal currently surrounding President Clinton. The dollar should continue to eye the downside and is expected to remain vulnerable going into the New Year. This should allow the USD/IEP rate move back into a higher trading range and we expect a move to $1.55 towards the end of next year.
The reduction in Irish official interest rates to 3.00% means that the Irish pound has all but fallen to its expected EMU starting rate of DM2.4833. European Finance Ministers as the bilateral conversion rate against the DMark should confirm this rate, which is the current ERM central rate, on 31st December. The process by which the bilateral rates will be determined on this date is outlined on page 9. On the basis of current market conditions the Irish pound should enter EMU at a fixed rate of about 1.256 against the euro or 1 euro should equal IEP 0.796.
On 3 May 1998, the EU finance ministers and central bank governors confirmed that the bilateral central rates in the ERM would be used when fixing the irrevocable euro conversion rates on 31 December 1998. As these rates were considered to be consistent with the countries economic fundamentals, there was no reason to expect that any of these bilateral central rates would be realigned before the start of the euro. Since May, there has been little or no tension within the ERM despite the global economic and financial crisis. Consequently, we can expect that the existing ERM rates will remain unchanged.

The central banks of the Member States adopting the euro as their currency from 1 January 1999 have been instructed to ensure that, through appropriate market techniques, market exchange rates are equal to the ERM central rates as set out in the table on page 8. According to the Maastricht Treaty, the procedures carried out by all parties must ensure that the adoption of the irrevocable conversion rates for the euro will not modify the external value of the existing ECU. In other words, the euro must replace the ECU on a one for one basis. The legal framework for the introduction of the euro also stipulates that every reference in a legal instrument to the official ECU shall be replaced by the euro at the rate of one euro to one ECU. Therefore, the irrevocable conversion rates for the euro have to be identical to the value of the ECU expressed in units of the participating currencies on 31 December 1998.

As indicated, the bilateral conversion rates between participating currencies have already been announced. The conversion rates against the euro have not. This is because the euro must replace the ECU and the ECU is made up of a basket of eleven currencies, three of which are not participating in EMU. These are sterling, the Greek drachma and Danish krone. The official value of the ECU is calculated on a daily basis. This will be done as normal on 31 December using the following steps.

1. Determining of the EU currencies’ relative exchange rates against the USD
At 11.30 CET (10.30 GMT) the EU central banks, including those not participating in the euro, provide to each other the US dollar exchange rate for their respective currencies. The bilateral rates between euro participating currencies will be determined by crossing their respective US dollar exchange rates e.g.

USD/IEP = $1.4607
DEM/USD = DM1.70
DEM/IEP = 1.4607 x 1.70 = DM2.4833
These cross rates should equal the bilateral rates as agreed on 3 May 1998. If not, the central banks of the euro participating currencies will intervene in the market to ensure this equality. However, the sum of whatever changes they make must equal zero so as not to affect the external value of the ECU in accordance with the terms of the Maastricht Treaty.


2. Calculation of the ECU/USD Exchange Rate
The exchange rates as communicated by the EU central banks are then communicated by the National Bank of Belgium to the European Commission. The Commission then uses them to calculate the ECU/USD exchange rate. This is done by summing up the US dollar equivalents (on the basis of their weighting in the ECU basket) of the national currency amounts that make up the ECU.


3. Calculation of the exchange rates of the ECU against the euro participating currencies
The official ECU exchange rates against the euro currencies are calculated by multiplying the USD/ECU exchange rate by their respective US dollar exchange rates. This calculation will also be performed on the EU currencies not participating in the EMU so that the their exchange rate versus the euro can be determined. These exchange rates are rounded to six significant figures (http://www.iol.ie/aibtreas/month/pound.htm).
Exports
In 1997 Ireland’s merchandise exports amounted to 35 billion. This was approximately 73% of GDP, a high proportion by international standards. The main areas of growth in Irish exports are the computers/electrical machinery and chemicals/pharmaceuticals industries. The principal destinations for exports are UK: 24.3%, Germany 12.S%, France 7.9%, Netherlands 6.8%, Belgium and Luxembourg 5.0%, Italy 3.3%, other EU Countries 6.8%, United States 11.4% and Japan 3.2%.
Imports
In 1997 Ireland’s merchandise imports were valued