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Country Reports

Ireland Country Report

Overview

INTRODUCTION

Travel to the island nation of Ireland (population 4.6 million) presents no major risks; the country offers high levels of security and comfort to its many visitors.

SOCIAL UNREST

Politically- and socially-motivated protests in the capital Dublin occur periodically and sometimes turn violent. It is best to avoid all gatherings, even peaceful ones, as violence can flare up without warning.

CRIME

Over half a million more visitors were welcomed to Ireland in 2014, leading to a slight increase in petty crime (stolen foreign identity papers and bank cards); through most of 2015, authorities recorded a 6 percent increase in burglary and fraud cases as compared to 2014.

The capital Dublin remains the county with the highest crime rate. Most petty thefts occur in pubs, Internet cafes, buses, airport shuttles, and on the car parks of tourist attractions. Purse snatching is regularly reported in urban areas.

Violent crime is rare but does exist. Sexual offenses reportedly increased by 14 percent between 2014 and 2015.

Gang rivalry is also a concern in Ireland. A shooting attack in February 2016 that killed one person in Dublin's Regency Hotel during a boxing competition was proven to be linked to a competitor's family connections to gang activity in northern Dublin.

Travelers should thus take basic precautionary measures to protect themselves; do not walk down deserted streets, avoid walking alone at night, never lose sight of your bank cards during transactions, and keep a copy of your travel documents in a safe place.

POLITICS

The next parliamentary elections will take place in 2021. The next presidential election will take place in October 2018.

Severely impacted by the 2007 financial crisis (annual GDP growth fell 5.5 percent in 2007 and another 5.6 percent in 2009), the Irish economy has since regained its strength, with a 2.6 percent annual growth in 2011 and an impressive hike over the past three years (7.8 percent annual GDP growth in 2015). Politically difficult reform measures, including sharp cuts in public-sector wages and restructuring of the banking sector, made the Irish economy the fastest-growing in the Eurozone after exiting a European Union bailout. The Irish economy may however suffer grave consequences from the recent UK Brexit referendum (in which Britain voted to leave the European Union with a majority of 51.9 percent), in part due to its close historical and commercial ties with the United Kingdom.

TRANSPORTATION

Driving is on the left-hand side of the road, and the drivers' seat in local cars is on the right-hand side of the car. The road network is very well-maintained, except in the countryside where roads can be very narrow with poor lighting. Speed limits are 50 km/h (30 mph) in urban areas (with the exception of Dublin where a speed limit of 30 km/h [20 mph] has been introduced), 60-100 km/h (40-70 mph) outside urban areas according to road signs, and 110 km/h (70 mph) on highways. Traffic wardens are very strict about parking; it is advised to refer to the official Rules of the Road before driving in Ireland.

Public transportation is efficient and safe. Most major cities are well-served by an extensive bus network. Dublin has two train stations, Heuston Station and Connolly Station, each linking the capital to western/southern regions, and to northern regions (including Northern Ireland) respectively. Dublin International Airport (DUB), as well as Cork (ORK) and Shannon (SNN) airports, offer regular flights to most European and American cities throughout the year.

Dublin counts around 13,000 taxis; they all feature yellow "for hire" signage on the roof that reads "taxi" or "tacsi." Most of them are equipped with meters. Although it is considered safe to hail a taxi off the streets, it is recommended to book one in advance from a licensed taxi company.

NATURAL RISKS

Many ferry services run between Ireland and the United Kingdom; delays and cancellations due to adverse weather conditions sometimes occur, particularly in winter months.

Adverse winter weather conditions have also been known to disrupt road and air travel.

HEALTH

Medical facilities are of the highest quality. Prior to departure, travelers should purchase a health insurance plan covering overseas care and medical repatriation, the latter being mandatory in case of a significant or urgent health issue.

The flu (influenza virus) is present in all European countries including in Ireland. Influenza is a contagious virus that can spread from human to human. Symptoms include high fever, aching muscles, headache, and respiratory issues. Particularly vulnerable individuals include young children, the elderly, pregnant women, the obese, and individuals suffering from chronic diseases. To reduce the risk of contracting the flu, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, particularly before meals.

From July 2014 to August 2015, the country experienced a mumps outbreak with more than 2000 cases reported.

TERRORISM

Although Ireland has not been targeted by any international terrorist group, it is concerned by the ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe and the Irish authorities consider a terrorist attack "possible, but not likely."

LOCAL LEGISLATION

Ireland is a member of the European Union and uses the euro as its national currency; however, the country is not part of the visa- and border checkpoint-free Schengen Area.

Climate

Ireland has a typically oceanic climate, moderate and humid with frequent rain showers. Summers are mild and winters are rarely very cold (temperatures seldom fall below 0°C). During the winter months the country sees a lot of rain. July and August are the hottest months while May and June are the sunniest.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +353 Police: 112 or 999 Fire Dept.: 112 or 999 Ambulance: 112 or 999

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

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