Answer the following questions to see how your political beliefs match your political parties and candidates.
In March 2017, the U.S. government notified nine airlines that operate direct flights from the Middle East and Africa that personal electronics larger than cellphones would be banned on all direct flights entering the U.S. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security stated that the ban would affect 10 airports that it determined did not have adequate baggage security screening in place. The ban requires passengers to put all electronics larger than cell phones including laptops, cameras and e-readers in checked luggage. Passengers will still be able to fly with the items if they are stowed in their carry on luggage. Opponents argue that the ban discriminates against Muslim airline passengers and could pave the way for future restrictions against them. Proponents argue that the ban only affects 10 airports and will encourage them to expand screening of all checked baggage.
Contraception (birth control) are methods or devices used to prevent pregnancy. Contraception was illegal in Ireland until the government passed the Family Planning Bill which legalised the sale of birth control pills for medical purposes. An amendment was passed in 1985 which allowed condoms to be sold to people over 18 without a prescription.
Abortion is a medical procedure resulting in the termination of a human pregnancy and death of a fetus. In 2013, the Oireachtas approved the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act which allows abortion to be performed on women whose lives are endangered during pregnancy. Proponents of abortion rights claim that since the 1970s more than 170,000 Irish women have left Ireland to have abortions and the ban is discriminatory towards women. Opponents of abortion argue that unborn fetus’s should be afforded the same rights as human beings.
Same sex marriage has been legal in Ireland since the Oireachtas passed the Marriage Act of 2015. Ireland was the first country to approve same sex marriage by a popular vote. Opponents of the act, including several catholic bishops argued that the purpose of marriage is to reproduce and the act undermines the unions of heterosexual couples. Proponents argue that same sex couples should be awarded the same rights and government benefits as heterosexual couples.
LGBT adoption is the adoption of children by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. This may be in the form of a joint adoption by a same-sex couple, adoption by one partner of a same-sex couple of the other's biological child (step-child adoption) and adoption by a single LGBT person. Joint adoption by same-sex couples is legal in 25 countries. Opponents of LGBT adoption question whether same-sex couples have the ability to be adequate parents while other opponents question whether natural law implies that children of adoption possess a natural right to be raised by heterosexual parents. Since constitutions and statutes usually fail to address the adoption rights of LGBT persons, judicial decisions often determine whether they can serve as parents either individually or as couples.
Euthanasia, the practice of ending a life prematurely in order to end pain and suffering, is currently considered a criminal offense. Assisted suicide is currently illegal in Ireland but legal in the EU states of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. Proponents argue that assisted suicide affords terminally ill people the compassion they deserve. Opponents argue that laws legalising euthanasia are dangerous and could lead to the unnecessary deaths of senior citizens.
Capital punishment or the death penalty is a legal process whereby a person is put to death as a punishment for a crime. Brazil abolished capital punishment in 1889.
In December 2014, the German government announced a new rule which would require German companies to fill 30% of their board seats with women. In Ireland 8% of corporate boards seat women directors which is less than the UK (22.8%), US (19.2%), Canada (20.8%) and Australia (23.6%). In Norway 35.5% of boards contain women directors which is the highest percentage in the world.
In 2010, teachers were told that Muslims would not be permitted to wear the niqab, the garment covering the entire body except for slits across the eyes. The guidance, circulated in Ireland by bishops among more than 450 schools, said that although staff should respect the religious rights of non-Catholics, it was "unsatisfactory for a teacher not to be able to see and engage properly with a pupil whose face was covered". Opponents of the ban argue that it religious expression is a basic human right and muslims should be able to wear the Niqab in every school. Proponents of the ban argue that the Niqab is a religious symbol that should not be worn at Catholic Schools.
In 2004 the government passed the Hunting Act which banned the practice of hunting mammals with dogs in England and Wales. The Act allows dogs to sniff out foxes but bans them from killing. The Act does not prevent hunters from using dogs to “drag hunt" which uses dogs to track and sniff out foxes. Proponents argue that fox hunting with dogs is a time honored tradition that supports rural communities. Opponents argue that killing foxes with dogs is cruel since the hunted animals suffer severe physiological and psychological stress during the hunt - whether they are killed or not.
Global warming, or climate change, is an increase in the earth's atmospheric temperature since the late nineteenth century. In politics, the debate over global warming is centered on whether this increase in temperature is due to greenhouse gas emissions or is the result of a natural pattern in the earth's temperature. In 2015 Alan Kelly, the minister for the Environment, published the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill which outlined several goals that will make Ireland a “low carbon” economy by 2050. Opponents argue that strict laws on carbon emissions will have a severe effect on the Irish economy since many of the regulations will inflict heavy costs on the agricultural industry. Proponents argue that Ireland should join other developed countries and do its part to limit carbon emissions by 2020.
In 2016, France became the first country to ban the sale of plastic disposable products that contain less than 50% of biodegradable material and in 2017, India passed a law banning all plastic disposable plastic products.
Fracking is the process of extracting oil or natural gas from shale rock. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which fractures the rock and allows the oil or gas to flow out to a well. In 2014, Italy's Emilia-Romagna region banned fracking after a report found that it may have caused two earthquakes that killed 26 people in 2012. Opponents of fracking argue that fracking is dangerous and environmentally damaging because of it uses high-pressured, chemically treated water to blast apart rock to release the gas trapped inside. Proponents of fracking argue that it will make Ireland more energy dependent and less susceptible to global oil prices.
Genetically modified food or crops are plants that have been modified using genetic engineering techniques. Examples of GMOs include adding genes to certain crops to make them immune to insects or environmental conditions. Proponents of a GMO ban argue that their existence might have unintended effects on agricultural ecosystems including bees and other animals which depend on native crops for their survival. Opponents of a ban argue that the development GMOs has resulted in cheaper food being produced more quickly, in greater quantities, and with less calories and fat.
In January of 2016, the Low Pay Commission raised the Irish minimum wage to €9.15 per hour. Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash estimated that 124,000 workers in Ireland would receive a 50 cent increase. The Labour party has proposed further wage increases of €9.65 in 2017, €10.15 in 2018, €10.65 in 2019 and €11.15 in 2020. Proponents of the wage increase stimulates the economy by shifting more income into the working class. Opponents argue that minimum wage increases hurt small businesses and increase unemployment.
In October 2015, Minister of Finance Michael Noonan announced the Irish government would implement a total of €750 million in tax cuts, with a similar increase in spending. That will leave the government with a budget deficit of 1.2% of gross domestic product, down from 2.1% in 2014 and a peak of 32.5% in 2010. The government expects the economy to grow by 6.2% this year, before slowing to 4.3% in 2016 and 3% thereafter.
In 2014, the EU passed legislation that capped bankers’ bonuses at 100% of their pay or 200% with shareholder approval. Proponents of the cap say that it will reduce incentives for bankers to take excessive risk similar to what led to the 2008 financial crisis. Opponents say that any cap on bankers’ pay will push up non-bonus pay and cause bank’s costs to rise.
The corporate tax rate in Ireland is 12.5 percent and is one of the lowest in the developed world. Many multinational companies including Microsoft, Apple and Google base their company in Ireland. The Irish government is proposing cutting that rate in half for company’s earnings on patents and intellectual property. Proponents of the lower tax rate argue that the lower rate incentivizes companies to set up offices in Ireland and create jobs. Opponents argue that Ireland is being used as an off-shore tax haven for large companies and the rate should be raised to match other EU countries.
There are currently 55 trade unions with membership of Congress, representing about 600,000 workers in Ireland. Unions members represent 35% of the country’s labor force, down from 55% in 1980. 50% of union members are in the public sector. Opponents of Ireland’s unions argue that public sector workers have too many benefits and the government cannot adjust them due to union contracts. Proponents argue that unions give workers a collective voice that is necessary to negotiate pay and worker safety.
Women in Ireland currently earn an average of 14.4 percent less than men. The pay gap in Italy has increased by 4 percent in five years, up from 12.4 percent in 2008. The average EU pay gap between men and women is 16.4 percent.
The estate tax is a tax that is levied on all property that is declared in a deceased person's will. The tax is also known as the "inheritance tax" or "death tax." In 2016 the tax free threshold for asset transfers from a parent to a child is set to increase by 24 per cent to €280,000. Proponents of the tax argue that more estates should be subject to the tax and the threshold should be lowered from 24% to 20%. Opponents of the tax argue that people who have paid income taxes their entire life should not be subject to another tax when they die.
5 U.S. states have passed laws requiring welfare recipients to be tested for drugs. Ireland does not currently test welfare recipients for drugs. Proponents argue that testing will prevent public funds from being used to subsidize drugs habits and help get treatment for those that are addicted to drugs. Opponents argue that it is a waste of money since the tests will cost more money than they save.
An economic stimulus is a monetary or fiscal policy enacted by governments with the intent of stabilizing their economies during a fiscal crisis. The policies include an increase in government spending on infrastructure, tax cuts and lowering interest rates. In 2012 the Irish government invested €2.25 billion euros in a number of delayed road, school and health-care construction projects.
Australia currently has a progressive tax system whereby high income earners pay a higher percentage of tax than low income tax. A more progressive income tax system has been proposed as a tool towards reducing wealth inequality.
A government pension is a fund into which a sum of money is added during the period in which a person is employed by the government. When the government employee retires they are able to receive periodic payments from the fund in order to support themselves. As the birth rate continues to fall and the life expectancy rises governments worldwide are predicting funding shortfalls for pensioners. Workers in Ireland can begin receiving pension payments at the age of 65. Each retired worker may receive up to €11,975.60 per year. The age at which a worker may start receiving pensions will increase to 67 in 2021 and 68 in 2028. Opponents of pension increases argue that they will lead to higher taxes on younger generations due to the declining birthrate. Proponents argue that pensions should be increased to match inflation and support the elderly.
In 2011 the level of public spending on the welfare state by the British Government accounted for £113.1 billion, or 16% of government. By 2020 welfare spending will rise to 1/3rd of all spending making it the largest expense followed by housing benefit, council tax benefit, benefits to the unemployed, and benefits to people with low incomes.
An offshore (or foreign) bank account is a bank account you have outside of your country of residence. The benefits of an offshore bank account include tax reduction, privacy, currency diversification, asset protection from lawsuits, and reducing your political risk. In April 2016, Wikileaks released 11.5 million confidential documents, known as the Panama Papers, which provided detailed information on 214,000 offshore companies serviced by the Panamanian Law Firm, Mossack Fonesca. The document exposed how world leaders and wealthy individuals hide money in secret offshore tax shelters. The release of the documents renewed proposals for laws banning the use of offshore accounts and tax havens. Proponents of the of the ban argue they should be outlawed because they have a long history of being vehicles for tax evasion, money laundering, illicit arms dealing and funding terrorism. Opponents of the ban argue that punitive regulations will make it harder for American companies to compete and will further discourage businesses from locating and investing in the United States.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, with the aim of promoting trade and multilateral economic growth. The agreement is opposed by unions, charities, NGOs, and environmentalists in Europe who criticise the agreement for reducing regulations on food safety and environmental legislation.
Bitcoin is a type of digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank. Bitcoins are stored in a digital wallet, which is like a virtual bank account that allows users to send or receive bitcoins and pay for goods or services. Bitcoin is anonymous, meaning that, while transactions are recorded in a public log, the names of buyers and sellers are never revealed.
DRI chair TJ McIntyre warned that Irish law in the area of accessing communication data is quickly becoming a "crucial one" given the presence here of top internet giants, such as Google, Microsoft and Twitter. He said courts and governments in the US and the UK were exploring whether their laws could reach into Ireland and force these companies to disclose personal data. And he said that a pending High Court case taken by DRI is likely to strike down Ireland's laws on data retention. "We have almost nothing in comparative terms [regarding oversight] to what they have in Britain," said Mr McIntyre, a law lecturer in University College Dublin.
In 2015, Ireland will move towards decriminalizing substances including heroin, cocaine and cannabis. The program will also create designated rooms in Dublin where heroin users can inject themselves. Proponents of legalisation argue that instead of shaming addicts, Ireland’s drug policy should focus on treating them. Opponents argue that legalization program encourages widespread drug use.
A united Ireland is a proposed sovereign state covering all of the thirty-two traditional counties of Ireland.
Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers should treat all data on the internet equally.
A term limit is a law which limits the length of time a person may serve in an elected office. In Ireland the President is limited to two seven year terms. The Prime Minister and Dáil Éireann must be re-elected every five years.
Flag desecration is any act that is carried out with the intention of damaging or destroying a national flag in public. This is commonly done in an effort to make a political statement against a nation or its policies. Some nations have acts that ban flag desecration while others have laws that protect the right to destroy a flag as a part of free speech. Some of these laws distinguish between a national flag and those of other countries.
Gavin Kelleher of Goodbody Stockbrokers estimates the gross revenue from gambling in Ireland is about €1.1 billion a year (He stresses that it’s impossible to be certain). Opponents of a gambling ban argue that making it illegal will turn the business over to the black market where it will be unregulated and untaxable. Proponents of a ban argue that online gambling is causing a dramatic increase in the number of gambling addicts.
Peter Robinson, leader of the majority pro-British Democratic Unionist Party and the government’s first minister resigned in 2015. This made the multiparty executive branch obsolete since it could not function if either of the two largest parties refused to participate. The controversy arose after Kevin McGuigan was murdered and members of the police claimed that the IRA was still active. Proponents argue that leaders from Britain, Ireland and Sinn Fein should start negotiations to repair the peace agreement and restore the power-sharing government. Opponents argue that the murder of Mr. McGuigan proves that there is too much unrest to build a power-sharing government right now.
In 2015 the Irish government spent €1.7bn on drugs and the HSE has proposed cutting drug spending by €110m in 2016. The proposal was in response to recent steep price increases on drugs including the AIDS drug Daraprim and the EpiPen. Proponents of drug price regulation argue that drug makers raise prices to benefit the value of their stock and invest little of their profits in the development and research of new drugs. Opponents of regulation argue that consumers rely on drug companies to develop new drugs and limiting prices will prevent new lifesaving drugs from being developed.
Healthcare in Ireland is financed by the state. Citizens have the option of buying additional private health insurance. There are public as well as private hospitals. Private patients are often treated in public hospitals, as by definition all privately insured patients have an entitlement to use the publicly funded system.
Marijuana is currently illegal to possess, grow, distribute or sell in Ireland. People caught possessing small amounts of marijuana may receive a fine of up to €1,269. Those in possession of large amounts of marijuana may be charged with trafficking and sentenced to long prison terms.
In January of 1973, the Republic of Ireland joined the European Economic Community, now known as the European Union (EU). Proponents argue that leaving the EU could cost Ireland a permanent loss of 3.1% GDP. Opponents of EU membership argue that it leaves Ireland's economy vulnerable to the economic declines of other European countries including Italy and Greece.
The United Nations reported that more than one million Syrian refugees fled to Europe in 2015. Ireland will accept 2,622 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. Proponents argue that Italy should do its part to aid migrants fleeing ISIS. Opponents argue that the government does not have sufficient background checks in place to prevent an immigrant from carrying out a terrorist attack.
In 2013 Ireland gave €628 million in overseas aid. The government states that the aim of Ireland's aid programme is to reduce poverty and hunger, particularly in sub- Saharan Africa. It supports long term development and provides humanitarian assistance in over eighty of the world's poorest countries.
The average EU country spends 1.3% of its GDP on defence. Ireland currently spends .5% (a decline of .4% since 2008). Proponents of higher defence spending argue that the low spending puts the country at risk and the spending level should be raised to match other developed EU countries. Opponents argue that raising spending is unnecessary since armed conflicts can be prevented through diplomacy.
Military Service is currently not required in Ireland.
In October 2016, allied forces joined with the Iraqi military to launch an offensive against ISIS forces in the Iraqi city of Mosul. After ISIS took control of the city in 2014 allied forces and the Iraqi military have launched three separate offensives aimed at recapturing the city. The first two offensives, the Anbar Campaign and the Mosul offensive were unsuccessful in their attempts to purge ISIS forces from the city. The current offensive, the Battle of Mosul, was launched in October 2016 and has continued into the spring of 2017. In March 2017 a US coalition airstrike killed 200 innocent civilians in the city. Humanitarian organizations in Mosul estimate that at least 600,000 civilians are trapped in the city. Opponents of the offensive argue that in order to prevent the deaths of more innocent civilians allied and Iraqi forces should abandon the campaign. Proponents argue that letting ISIS control a major Iraqi city will bring instability to the Middle East and allied forces must use defeat ISIS at all costs.
The "Free Tuition Fees Scheme" covers first time Irish or other EU undergraduates on approved full-time courses in publicly funded colleges. It does not cover students who may be repeating a year of their degree programme or students who are taking a second undergraduate degree. Opponents argue that foreign students should pay full tuition and should not be subsidised by Irish taxpayers. Proponents argue that offering the programme to international students helps attract skilled workers from other countries to Ireland.
A tax return is a document which states how much income an individual or entity reported to the government. In Ireland these documents are considered private and are not released to the public. In Sweden, Norway and Finland citizen’s and candidate’s tax records are considered public information and are published on the internet.
In most countries, suffrage, the right to vote, is generally limited to citizens of the country. Some countries, however, extend limited voting rights to resident non-citizens.
The U.S. constitution does not prevent convicted felons from holding the office of the President or a seat in the Senate or House of Representatives. States may prevent convicted felons candidates from holding statewide and local offices.
Felony disenfranchisement is the exclusion from voting of people otherwise eligible to vote due to conviction of a criminal offense, usually restricted to the more serious class of crimes deemed felonies. Prisoners and those convicted of felonies have full voting rights in Ireland unless they receive a court order banning them from voting.
In 2015 the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Establishing Mandatory Minimums for Illegal Reentry Act of 2015 (Kate’s Law.) The law was introduced after San Francisco 32 year old San Francisco resident Kathryn Steinle was shot and killed by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez on July 1, 2015. Lopez-Sanchez was an illegal immigrant from Mexico who had been deported on five separate occasions since 1991 and been charged with seven felony convictions. Since 1991 Lopez-Sanchez had been charged with seven felony convictions and deported five times by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Although Lopez-Sanchez had several outstanding warrants in 2015 authorities were unable to deport him due to San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy which prevents law enforcement officials from questioning a resident’s immigration status. Proponents of sanctuary city laws argue that they enable illegal immigrants to report crimes without the fear of being reported. Opponents argue that sanctuary city laws provide encourage illegal immigration and prevent law enforcement authorities from detaining and deporting criminals.
The American Civics test is an examination that all immigrants must pass to gain U.S. citizenship. The test asks 10 randomly selected questions which cover U.S. history, the constitution and government. In 2015 Arizona became the first state to require High School students to pass the test before they graduate.
The 2011 Irish census found 49,204 Muslims in the Republic of Ireland, constituting 1.07% of that state's population and at the time of the 2001 UK Census there were 1,943 living in Northern Ireland.
The Irish Times recently reported that 48% of migrants working in the food business, security and domestic care earn less than less than the €8.65 per hour national minimum wage. Immigrants make up 12.47% of Ireland’s population - a total of 578,000 people - and since 2011, over 90,000 migrants have become Irish citizens.
Skilled temporary work visas are usually given to foreign scientists, engineers, programmers, architects, executives, and other positions or fields where demand outpaces supply. Most businesses argue that hiring skilled foreign workers allows them to competitively fill positions which are in high demand. Opponents argue that skilled immigrants decrease middle class wages and job tenure.
Multiple citizenship, also called dual citizenship is a person's citizenship status, in which a person is concurrently regarded as a citizen of more than one state under the laws of those states. There is no international convention which determines the nationality or citizen status of a person, which is defined exclusively by national laws, which vary and can be inconsistent with each other. Some countries do not permit dual citizenship. Most countries that permit dual citizenship still may not recognize the other citizenship of its nationals within its own territory, for example, in relation to entry into the country, national service, duty to vote, etc.
Irish welfare benefits for intra-EU migrants are amongst the highest in the EU in the areas of job seekers allowance, healthcare, old-age pensions, and child benefit. The Irish Examiner recently reported that more than a 20% of unemployment benefits recipients in Ireland are from other EU countries. In Germany, for example, 2.5% of unemployment benefit recipients are from other EU countries.
Vaccines are not required in Ireland although the Department of Health strongly recommend vaccinations.
Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions that release energy to generate heat, which most frequently is then used in steam turbines to produce electricity in a nuclear power station. Since plans for a nuclear power plant at Carnsore Point in County Wexford were dropped in the 1970s, nuclear power in Ireland has been off the agenda. Ireland gets about 60% of its energy from gas, 15% from renewable and the remainder from coal and peat. Proponents argue that nuclear energy is now safe and emits much less carbon emissions than coal plants. Opponents argue that recent nuclear disasters in Japan prove that nuclear power is far from safe.
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The above questions were selected because they give a broad sample of the most divisive issues being discussed this year in politics. We continue to add new issues on a weekly basis.
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