Ireland: Geographical & Political Island

In 1921 the island of Ireland was divided into two parts when the Anglo-Irish treaty was formed and the South of Ireland became independent of British rule. The South comprises of twenty six counties known as the Republic of Ireland who govern themselves. Northern Ireland comprises of 6 counties which is the Northern Ireland Assembly and the UK Parliament. There has been a long history of unrest between the two states however today there is a concerted effort to promote partnership and cooperation between the North and South where economic, social and cultural relations are nurtured.

The Republic of Ireland

Ireland is run as a democracy and is governed by The President (The Head of State) who is elected by the Irish people in a general election. Ireland is also governed by the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) which follows the laws set out by the Constitution and is led by The Taoiseach (The Head of Government). The Taoiseach also communicates all matters concerning the government to the President.

The main political parties represented in the Oireachtas:
  • Fine Gael
  • Fianna Fáil
  • Labour Party
  • Sinn Féin
  • United Left Alliance
  • Socialist Party
  • People Before Profit Alliance
  • Workers Unemployed Action Group
  • Independents

The Oireachtas is divided into two houses of parliament, Dáil Éireann (House of Representatives) which comprises of 166 members or TDs ( Teachta Dála). The members are elected on a system of proportional representation by a general election. A general election to Dáil Éireann must be held at least every five years by law. The other house is Seanad Éireann (Senate) has sixty members, eleven of whom are nominated by The Taoiseach, the rest are elected by vocational panels and university graduates.


Northern Ireland

Although the United Kingdom Monarch is still considered to be the Head of State and the Prime Minister is considered the Head of Government, Northern Ireland is what is known as a devolved state. This means that the UK has transferred the majority of its power to Northern Ireland so important decisions regarding legislation affecting the entire population are made by its Northern Ireland political representatives known as The Northern Ireland Assembly. The Assembly consists of 108 Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) who are all publically elected.

The Northern Ireland Executive is essentially the devolved government of Northern Ireland which exercises authority on behalf of the Assembly and makes decisions on economic and social matters, agriculture and rural development, culture, arts, education, health, social services and public safety. The committee consists of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister as well as ten ministers representing the government departments. The Assembly and The Executive were established under the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

  • Main political parties represented Northern Ireland:
  • Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
  • Democratic Unionist Party   
  • Progressive Unionist Party
  • Sinn Féin
  • Social Democratic and Labour Party
  • UK Unionist Party
  • Ulster Unionist Party