The Irish economic crisis came on the heels of Ireland’s ‘Celtic Tiger’ moment, more than a decade of rapid economic growth beginning in the early nineties.

Ireland: By William Murphy 13 October 2011, Dublin https://flic.kr/p/avyH6M

The Irish economic crisis came on the heels of Ireland’s ‘Celtic Tiger’ moment, more than a decade of rapid economic growth beginning in the early nineties. A property bubble expanded in the first decade of the new century and made the country ripe for disaster when the global markets went into disarray in 2008.

The banking crisis, which led to the national bailouts of the three largest Irish banks, was merely one part of this wider crisis that led to an inability of Irish financial institutions to weather the global recession. In September 2008, Ireland was the first country in the Eurozone to fall into recession.

The Irish government enacted a number of austerity measures in 2009 a view to reducing its budget deficit. In November 2010, the Irish government declared the need for a bailout. The decision provoked significant political instability and protest. Once the involvement of the EU and IMF was announced, polls indicated a complete reversal in political loyalties, overturning the dominance of the leading Fianna Fail party, with the Labour party receiving historically unprecedented support.

The 2011 elections reflected this popular discontent and ushered in a Labour-Fine Gael coalition. Other forms of accountability were attempted: 2011 and 2012 saw a hike in popular protest, and two of three top Anglo bank executives, William McAteer and Pat Whelan, were found guilty of illegal lending and sentenced to community service in 2014.

Key Facts

Population: 4,892,305 (July 2015 est.)

  2005 2009 2015
GDP $165.1 billion $175.1 billion $257.4 billion
Unemployment 4.3% 11.8% 9.4%
Public Debt (% of GDP) 26.7% 64.8% 101.2%
Key Dates
September 2008 Falls into recession
1 October 2008 Guarantees the debt of its largest financial institutions
Dec 2008-Jan 2009 Spate of resignations by top finance officials
January 2009 Anglo Bank nationalised
November 2010 67.5 billion euro ($90 billion) bailout agreed
March 2011 Major Irish banks fail stress test
2012 Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union is approved as the 30th Amendment to the Irish Constitution by referendum vote