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Ireland is an island located in the Atlantic along the northwest part of Europe’s mainland. Its size indicates that it is the third-largest Island in the whole of Europe. Globally, it features as a twentieth-largest Island. To the east, Ireland borders Great Britain. The Island has got beautiful terrains occasioned by diverse mountains that lie low. It has quite a number of navigable rivers, which extend towards the interior.
Its vegetation is blossoming, a feature which demonstrates a placid yet unpredictable oceanic type of weather. Its atmosphere is known to reveal a characteristic feature which steers clear of extremity temperatures. As Lydon observes, in the primeval times, the Island used to be covered with thick forests. However, the forest cover has dropped with the current cover averaging 11 percent. The Island boasts of about 26 extant species of mammals native to the country (23).
Statistics about Ireland
Statistics indicate that Ireland has a total population of about 6.6 million. Since Ireland is politically and geographically divided into the Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland, about 4.8 million people live in the Republic of Ireland while the rest inhabit Northern part of Ireland and is part of the United Kingdom.
Normans are believed to be the earliest invaders of the Island. This was in the 12 century, the period in which England claimed her dominion over the Island. Nevertheless, it took some time (up until the 16th century) for the English to surmount the entire Island. This occurred during the Tudor conquest that ended up with the colonization of Ireland.
Christianity had reached the Island before the 5th century. However, during the 1690s religious warfare, the surfacing of the Protestants English rule totally weakened the other denominations. This extended until the dawn of the 18th century. At the 17th century, this spiritual rivalry resulted in a sectarian division in the Island. The religious adherence became a major factor in determining how loyal an individual was to either the parliament or the king of the Island.
During the enactment of the Test Act of 1672, nonconformist Protestants and the Roman Catholics faced the greatest challenges in history. After the victory of William and Mary against the forces of the Jacobites, Catholics and the Protestants were not allowed to vie for parliamentary positions. Followers of the two denominations could not even own hereditary material goods. This culminated into the strengthening of Anglican conformists as the new ruling class.
Currently, the Catholics constitute 95% of the total population, while 5% are Protestants. There are other religions such as Judaism and Islam though their number is not significant even compared to the nonreligious.
The populace of Ireland comprises residents who account for 87 percent of the total population whereas 13 percent are purely foreigners. Most of the aliens are the English and French people.
The deterioration of the income level in Ireland is a worrying trend. Today, about 12% of the Irish population survives on an income slightly less than their official poverty line index, which is €30 per adult per day. In comparison to 2006, this shows an upward trend in economic decline since it translates to about 730,000 people living below the poverty line. In Ireland, about 6.5% of the workers are referred to as the working poor. Of this figure, 14.25% are adults.
The major contributing factors to these figures are numerous, but a few of them include low wage income, precarious employment, and the most hitching factor of the global recession. Policy challenges have also played a role in the increasing state of poverty. A perfect example of such policies includes the social welfare systems, which has been described by most Irish as ‘not friendly.’ Therefore, the Irish government should replace it with basic income systems.
The market economy in Ireland is not capable of providing jobs for her populace as a way of reducing unemployment rates. To add to the factors that contribute to increased poverty and unemployment in Ireland is the level of education.
Reports indicate that about a quarter of the populations of male students beyond the age of 15 are not academically prepared to compete favorably with the job market demands. Emigration has also been on the rise due to a desire to seek better living and working conditions outside the country. Majority of these emigrants are the energetic and educated youth who should be investing in the nation. Cases of emigration have led to brain drain (129).
While there are a number of languages currently used in Ireland, Irish is the only language that was originally spoken in Ireland. Although it was introduced into the country as a foreign language, English stands as the most predominantly used language. It is the first language. However, a small percentage of the whole population still speaks Irish. While Irish is the recognized national and official language, both English and Irish are considered official.
Average Population Growth Rate
The population of the Irish has continued to grow steadily. Between 2002 and 2006, there was a population increase of about 2%. Currently, the population increase between 2006 to present stands at 0.4%. Most rural parts of the Island are experiencing population decline as the majority of the people are moving to the cities showing steady population rise in such places. Dublin, which is the capital city, is the most populous city in Ireland and serves many functions such as being the economic and cultural center of Ireland.
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The national broadcasting stations in Ireland extend its public remit to include the incorporation of the public service programming in the whole of Irish communities within the UK. New web-based technological equipment has been adopted in an effort to facilitate the efficient relay of information to the public. The government-funded television channels are autonomous in relation to the daily encoding of the editorial decisions and operate at arm’s length from the government.
Lyndon elaborates that it is the mandate of public broadcasters to follow closely what is stated in legislation in order to observe, according to the mandate of the law, the nature of the services they deliver to the public. Their broadcasting programs are aimed at promoting the cultural diversity of the Irish.
Licenses that are awarded to independent broadcasters are usually authorized by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland without the issuance of legislations or conditions governing the makeup of programs to broadcast. Legislation, however, requires that art should be promoted in all media houses in Ireland. Education is highly promoted through the mass media, and a lot of educational infrastructures is being established to promote learning (314).
Both private and public television broadcasters are required to comply with the provisions of the EU television Act without Frontier Directive. This means that approximately 50% of the programs in televisions are supposed to be dominated by the works of Europeans. The other provision is that independent broadcasters’ programming time should be 10% of the total time. The major newspapers in Ireland are the Irish Times and the Early Dublin Newspapers. There are world-class studios such as the Ardmore and the Ashford studios.
Ireland has a very rich culture. Music, cuisine, arts among others signifies traditions and diverse customs of the Island. Recorded history explains how Irish culture has been influenced by her neighbors. For instance, although her primary culture was Gaelic, she got a lot of cultural influence from the English, the Scottish and the Anglo-Norman who settled in the Island. As a result of mass emigration, the Irish culture has got a wide global reception.
Some of their common cultural practices that have been adopted elsewhere include the Halloween, July 12th and Saint Patrick’s Day. Irish rich culture has seen the small Island produce some of the greatest artists and poets such as Oscar Fingal Wilde who is sometimes mistaken to be of English origin. Another prominent writer and poet from Ireland were George Benard Shaw whose works earned him the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Ireland has diversified its economy to include the textile industry, food, and processing industries, farming, and even manufacturing. The primary sector contributes 5% of the GDP while the employment sector contributes 8%. Agriculture is the backbone of the Island while secondary productions such as manufacturing of computers like Intel and Dell also play a significant role in the economy.
Major Social Issues Affecting Ireland
Just like every other country, there are major social issues affecting Ireland. One of such challenges is the housing problem. In 2011 alone, approximately 98000 families were in serious need of housing. Going by the current rate of unemployment, Ireland is even more likely to suffer from a serious housing shortage in the near future.
Although the Irish government is trying to use every means to ensure a decrease in unemployment and housing problems, the truth is that realizing such goals may sometimes be an uphill task due to the increasing cases of immigration. Over the last few years, immigration has affected budget spending, housing and employment patterns in Ireland and has therefore contributed to increasing in poverty level since the government cannot meet the immediate needs of the citizens (116).
Globalization in Ireland
According to Lydon, Ireland is one of the nations that have immensely benefitted from globalization and has had an impact on her economy. The increasing cases of immigration into the country have been attributed to globalization, good governance, and even job opportunities. Foreign investment, for instance, has improved a lot lately compared to the early nineties, thereby spurring economic growth of the country. Linguistic diversity and culture fusion is now common in Ireland more than before.
Today, for example, the Irish culture has been Americanized due to the interaction of Americans and the Irish through the internet and other information which are some of the symbols of globalization. Finally, there is linguistic diversity in Ireland with some foreign languages such as Polish being widely used (216).
Lydon James. The making of England: From ancient times to the present. London: Routledge, 2012. Print.