Ireland profile - Timeline


A chronology of key events:

1914 - Outbreak of World War I delays implementation of new home rule legislation which would have restored the Dublin parliament following centuries of unrest over British dominion in Ireland.

1916 - Nationalists stage Easter Rising, seizing the General Post Office in Dublin and proclaiming an independent Irish republic. The rising is crushed by the British who execute its leaders, including all seven signatories of the declaration of the republic. Irish public opinion is outraged.

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Image caption,
Republicans protest in the streets of Dublin against the hanging of IRA volunteers by the British in 1921

1919 - Led by Éamon De Valera, the nationalist movement Sinn Féin ('We Ourselves') sets up a Dublin assembly, the Dáil Éireann, which again proclaims Irish independence. A guerrilla campaign by the Irish Republican Army, or IRA, against British forces begins with heavy casualties on both sides.

The Irish Free State

1921 - Anglo-Irish Treaty establishes the Free State, an independent dominion of the British crown with full internal self-government rights, partitioned from Northern Ireland which remains part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

1922 - The Dublin parliament ratifies the treaty despite the opposition of Mr de Valera and others. Civil war breaks out and hundreds are killed.

1932 - Mr de Valera becomes head of government after previous administration fails to deal with economic difficulties.

From Eire to Republic of Ireland

1937 - New elections. The voters return De Valera and also approve a new constitution which abolishes the Irish Free State and proclaims Éire (Irish for Ireland) as a sovereign, independent, democratic state.

1939 - Outbreak of World War II. Éire remains neutral, but many Irish citizens join the Allied forces.

1948 - Mr de Valera loses election amid economic difficulties. John Costello becomes prime minister of broad coalition excluding Fianna Fáil.

1949 - Eire becomes Republic of Ireland and leaves British Commonwealth.

1959 - Seán Lemass becomes Fianna Fáil leader and prime minister, launches economic modernisation that sees Ireland move from mainly agricultural base and eventually join European Economic Community.

1969-1998 - Conflict in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles, which occasionally spilled over into Republic of Ireland.

Becoming a modern society

1973 - Ireland joins the European Economic Community. Violence in Northern Ireland intensifies. Relations between Ireland and Britain are strained.

Early 1980s - Ireland faces severe economic problems, with rising debt and unemployment. Three elections are held in the space of less than two years.

1983 - Amendment to constitution enshrines right to life of unborn child. The eighth amendment is seen as laying the foundation for Ireland's strict anti-abortion laws.

1985 - Anglo-Irish Agreement gives Republic consultative role in government of Northern Ireland.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Irish PM Bertie Ahern (l) and his British counterpart, Tony Blair (r), were closely involved in efforts to secure a Northern Ireland peace deal

1991 - Ireland signs the Treaty on European Union at Maastricht and receives a guarantee that its strict anti-abortion law will not be affected.

1992 - Irish voters approve loosening of the abortion law. Access to information guaranteed, travel abroad for abortion permitted.

Peace process

1993 - Downing Street Declaration offers talks on future peace in Northern Ireland to all parties if violence is renounced.

1997 - Divorce becomes legal under certain circumstances.

1998 - Good Friday Agreement approved by voters in Republic and Northern Ireland, establishing cross-community power-sharing assembly in North and ending Troubles.

2001 June - Voters reject Nice Treaty, blocking expansion of European Union into eastern Europe.

2002 January - Euro replaces punt as national currency.

2002 March - Small majority of voters rejects government attempt to tighten already strict anti-abortion laws in constitutional referendum.

Ahern re-elected

2002 May - Voters re-elect Fianna Fáil's Bertie Ahern as prime minister in a continuing coalition with the Progressive Democrats. Fine Gael, the main opposition party, loses over a third of its seats in parliament.

2002 October - Voters endorse Nice Treaty by comfortable margin in second referendum.

2006 December - Government launches a 20-year strategy to create a bilingual, Irish- and English-speaking society.

2007 June - Bertie Ahern forms a coalition with the Progressive Democrats, several independents and the Greens, who enter government for the first time. Mr Ahern becomes the first taoiseach (prime minister) to win a third term in office since Éamon De Valera.

Cowen becomes taoiseach

2008 May - Bertie Ahern steps down as taoiseach following controversy over his financial affairs. Succeeded by deputy, Brian Cowen.

2008 June - Voters reject EU's Lisbon Treaty in a referendum.

2008 September - As the global financial crisis gathers pace, the Irish government introduces a guarantee covering the debts of the country's banks. This move ultimately sinks the economy, as Ireland does not have sufficient reserves to cover its banks' debts.

2009 February - Unemployment rate reaches 11% - highest since 1996. Some 100,000 people take to Dublin streets to protest at government's handling of economic crisis.

Financial crisis hits

2009 March - Ireland loses its AAA debt rating as public finances deteriorate amid a deep recession.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Austerity measures prompted protests

2009 October - Ireland votes in favour of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty in new referendum.

2009 November - A damning report criticises the Irish Catholic Church hierarchy for its handling of allegations of child abuse against 46 priests.

2010 September - The cost of bailing out Ireland's stricken banking system rises to 45bn euro (£39bn), pushing the country's budget deficit up to around a third of GDP.

EU bailout

2010 November - Government agrees 85bn euro rescue package with EU and IMF, in bid to tackle huge hole in public finances. Government drafts austerity programme entailing four years of tax rises and spending cuts.

2011 February - Taoiseach Cowen calls early election. Opposition Fine Gael wins most seats, leader Enda Kenny takes office on pledge to renegotiate terms of EU/IMF bailout.

2011 May - Queen Elizabeth pays official visit to Ireland, first by British monarch since independence. Symbolises the new relationship since 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

2011 July - Ratings agency Moody's downgrades Ireland's debt rating to junk status.

Vatican recalls its ambassador to Ireland amid tension over the issue of child abuse by priests.

2011 October - Michael D Higgins of Labour Party elected president.

2011 December - Taoiseach Enda Kenny unveils budget to begin cutting deficit to no more than 3% of GDP by 2015.

2012 June - Voters approve European Union fiscal treaty by 60% at referendum, endorsing government's commitment to EU-backed austerity programme.

Bank deal

2013 February - The European Central Bank approves a deal to liquidate the former Anglo Irish Bank, which was nationalised in January 2009. The deal allows Ireland to defer by decades the bill for its most controversial bank bailout.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny formally apologises for the Irish state's role in the Magdalene laundries - harsh institutions in which "fallen women" were forcibly detained and made to work without pay between 1922 to 1996.

2013 June - New government figures show Ireland is back in recession for the first time since 2009.

2013 July - Parliament passes legislation that for first time allows abortion in limited circumstances.

2013 December - Ireland officially exits EU/IMF bailout programme having fulfilled its conditions - the first bailed-out eurozone country to do so.

2014 April - President Michael D Higgins makes official visit to Britain, the first ever by an Irish head of state.

2014 June - Government says it will hold an inquiry into mother and baby homes operated last century by religious organisations, after claims that 800 children died at one home between 1925 and 1961.

Tax loophole closed

2014 October - The first post-bailout budget introduces tax cuts, and - following criticism from the US and EU - ends a loophole that allowed foreign multinationals to pay very low tax in other countries.

2015 May - Referendum approves same-sex marriage by large margin.

2016 May - Months of political deadlock are finally broken after Fine Gael reaches an accommodation with Fianna Fáil, allowing Enda Kenny to form a minority government. Parliament re-elects him as Taoiseach.

2016 August - European Commission orders Ireland to recover up to 13bn euros (£11bn) from the technology giant Apple in back taxes, after ruling that the firm was granted undue benefits amounting to illegal state aid.

The government says it will appeal against the ruling, on the grounds that it implies that Ireland is a tax haven and will harm job creation and investment.

2017 June - Leo Varadkar becomes prime minister after Enda Kenny resigns.

2020 June - Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael form a coalition with the Green Party, after the closely-fought February election put the left-wing republican Sinn Féin party in second place.