Ireland. According to
Countryaah, growth in the Irish economy continues steeply
and has been the highest in Europe for some years, this year
around 10%. The "Celtic tiger", which I. received as a
nickname during the good economic years, has not yet met the
same fate as the Asian so-called tiger economies, which in
1997 were hit by major economic problems. A slight slowdown
in the economy was noticed at the end of the year, but
unemployment is still expected to continue to decline. gave
tax exemption to the lowest income level in the country.
Many new jobs are created by foreign companies,
especially in the IT industry, continuing to establish
themselves in I., attracted by the favorable tax conditions.
The availability of work is so good that immigration is now
greater than emigration. Most are Irish who return home
after previously being forced to emigrate to find
employment, but a growing stream of young French, Germans
and Swedes are now finding work in the Irish IT companies.
The successful peace process in Northern Ireland helped
to strengthen the faith of the future in I. In the May 22
referendum, 95% of voters in the country voted yes to the
new peace agreement, which is comparable to 71% yes votes in
Northern Ireland who voted on the same day. Through this
election the Irish made up their past and approved, among
other things. that the country gives up its constitutional
claims on Northern Ireland.
On the same day, in a parallel referendum, 62% of Irish
people also agreed to the Amsterdam Treaty, which the EU
leaders signed in June 1997. The result was surprisingly low
in the EU-friendly I. - which can partly thank the EU's
regional funds for the economic upswing in recent years -
but the vote came entirely in the shadow of the historic
referendum on the Northern Ireland peace treaty.
A new phase in relations with Britain began when the
30-year conflict in the Northern Province ended. On November
11, on the 80th anniversary of the end of the First World
War, the 50,000 Irish soldiers who fell in the war were
honored for the first time. The Irish who fought on the
British side were seen as traitors to many countrymen, and
many were murdered when they returned home after the end of
Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair was shortly
thereafter invited to speak in the Irish Parliament and thus
became the first British head of government to speak in the
I Parliament. Queen Elizabeth's husband Prince Philip also
visited Dublin and was welcomed by President Mary McAleese.
The Prince is the highest British royal who has visited
Dublin since the newly crowned Georg V and Queen Mary came
on official visit in 1911 when I. still belonged to Britain.