Answer the following questions to see how your political beliefs match your political parties and candidates.
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 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.
In November 2018 the online e-commerce company Amazon announced it would be building a second headquarters in New York City and Arlington, VA. The announcement came a year after the company announced it would accept proposals from any North American city who wanted to host the headquarters. Amazon said the company could invest over $5 billion and the offices would create up to 50,000 high paying jobs. More than 200 cities applied and offered Amazon millions of dollars in economic incentives and tax breaks. For the New York City headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $2.8 billion in tax credits and construction grants. For the Arlington, VA headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $500 million in tax breaks. Opponents argue that governments should spend the tax revenue on public projects instead and that the federal government should pass laws banning tax incentives. The European Union has strict laws which prevent member cities from bidding against each other with state aid (tax incentives) in an effort to lure private companies. Proponents argue that the jobs and tax revenue created by the companies eventually offset the cost of any awarded incentives.
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.
Although third-level tuition has been free in Ireland since 1997, for other student expenses most of the major banks offer interest-free or cut-rate loans to students. There has been discussion on re-introducing fees, as recommended by the OECD, with deferred payment similar to the Australian system; i.e., a loan from the government repaid after graduation.
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.
Irish is given recognition by the Irish Constitution as the national and first official language of the Republic of Ireland (English is the other official language). Although the Irish requirement was also dropped for wider public service jobs, Irish remains a required subject of study in all schools within the Republic which receive public money. Those wishing to teach in primary schools in the State must also pass a compulsory examination called Scrúdú Cáilíochta sa Ghaeilge (Examination for Quality in Irish). The need for a pass in Leaving Certificate Irish or English for entry to an Garda Síochána (police) was introduced in September 2005, and recruits are given lessons in the language during their two years of training. The most important official documents of the Irish government must be published in both Irish and English or Irish alone (in accordance with the Official Languages Act 2003, enforced by An Coimisinéir Teanga, the Irish language ombudsman).
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.
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.
In October 2019 Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that his social media company would ban all political advertising. He stated that political messages on the platform should reach users through the recommendation of other users – not through paid reach. Proponents argue that social media companies don’t have the tools to stop the spread of false information since their advertising platforms aren’t moderated by human beings. Opponents argue that the ban will disenfranchise candidates and campaigns who rely on social media for grassroots organizing and fundraising.
In January 2018 Germany passed the NetzDG law which required platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to take down perceived illegal content within 24 hours or seven days, depending on the charge, or risk a fine of €50 million ($60 million) fines. In July 2018 representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter denied to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary committee that they censor content for political reasons. During the hearing Republican members of Congress criticized the social media companies for politically motivated practices in removing some content, a charge the companies rejected. In April 2018 the European Union issued a series of proposals that would crack down on “online misinformation and fake news.” In June 2018 President Emmanuel Macron of France proposed a law which would give French authorities the power to immediately halt “the publication of information deemed to be false ahead of elections.”
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.
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.
A united Ireland is a proposed sovereign state covering all of the thirty-two traditional counties of Ireland.
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.
Seanad Éireann (Senate of Ireland) is the government upper house of the Oireachtas (the Irish legislature), which also comprises the President of Ireland and Dáil Éireann (the lower house). Unlike Dáil Éireann, it is not directly elected but consists of a mixture of members chosen by various methods. Under Article 18 of the Constitution, Seanad Éireann consists of sixty senators: Eleven nominated by the Taoiseach (prime minister); Six elected by the graduates of the University of Dublin and the National University of Ireland; 43 elected from five special panels of nominees (known as Vocational Panels) by an electorate consisting of TDs (member of Dáil Éireann), outgoing senators and members of city and county councils.
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.
Health care in Ireland is two-tier: public and private sectors exist. The public health care system is governed by the Health Act 2004, which established a new body to be responsible for providing health and personal social services to everyone living in Ireland – the Health Service Executive. The new national health service came into being officially on 1st January 2005; however the new structures are currently in the process of being established as the reform programme continues. In addition to the public-sector, there is also a large private healthcare market.
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 2018, officials in the U.S. city of Philadelphia city proposed opening a “safe haven” in an effort to combat the city's heroin epidemic. In 2016 64,070 people died in the U.S. from drug overdoses - a 21% increase from 2015. 3/4 of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. are caused by the opioid class of drugs which includes prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl. To combat the epidemic cities including Vancouver, BC and Sydney, AUS opened safe havens where addicts can inject drugs under the supervision of medical professionals. The safe havens reduce the overdose death rate by insuring the addicted patients are given drugs that are not contaminated or poisoned. Since 2001 5,900 people have overdosed at a safe haven in Sydney, Australia but no one has died. Proponents argue that the safe havens are the only proven solution to lower the overdose fatality rate and prevent the spread of diseases like HIV-AIDS. Opponents argue that safe havens may encourage illegal drug use and re-direct funding from traditional treatment centers.
The World Health Organization was founded in 1948 and is a specialized agency of the United Nations whose main objective is “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.” The organization provides technical assistance to countries, sets international health standards and guidelines, and collects data on global health issues through the World Health Survey. The WHO has led global public health efforts including the development of an Ebola Vaccine and the near-eradication of polio and smallpox. The organization is run by a decision-making body composed of representatives from 194 countries. It is funded by voluntary contributions from member countries and private donors. In 2018 and 2019 the WHO had a $5 billion budget and the leading contributors were the United States (15%) , the EU (11%) and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation (9%). Supporters of the WHO argue that cutting funding will hamper the international fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and sap the U.S. of global influence.
In 2020 face masks were mandated by certain countries as a control measure against the spread of SARS-CoV-2. As of early May 2020, 88% of the world's population lived in countries that recommend or mandated the use of masks in public. Opponents argue that masks do little to combat the virus since most people do not wear them properly. Proponents argue that a mask mandate would help stop the spread of CV19 and prevent tens of thousands of deaths.
Single-payer healthcare is a system where every citizen pays the government to provide core healthcare services for all residents. Under this system the government may provide the care themselves or pay a private healthcare provider to do so. In a single-payer system all residents receive healthcare regardless of age, income or health status. Countries with single-payer healthcare systems include the U.K., Canada, Taiwan, Israel, France, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.
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.
Domestic water charges were introduced in 2015 for Irish homes that are connected to a public water supply or to public wastewater services. Irish Water, the national water utility, administers the water charges. However, the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2016 suspended the issuing of domestic water bills for the second quarter of 2016. It also suspended domestic water charges for 9 months, from 1st July 2016 to 31st March 2017, with no charging or billing of domestic customers during that period. This suspension has been extended for a further 4 months by the Water Services Act (Extension of Suspension of Domestic Water Charges Order 2017).
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.
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.
A Universal Basic Income program is social security program where all citizens of a country receive a regular, unconditional sum of money from the government. The funding for Universal Basic Income comes from taxation and government owned entities including income from endowments, real estate and natural resources. Several countries, including Finland, India and Brazil, have experimented with a UBI system but have not implemented a permanent program. The longest running UBI system in the world is the Alaska Permanent Fund in the U.S. state of Alaska. In the Alaska Permanent Fund each individual and family receives a monthly sum that is funded by dividends from the state’s oil revenues. Proponents of UBI argue that it will reduce or eliminate poverty by providing everyone with a basic income to cover housing and food. Opponents argue that a UBI would be detrimental to economies by encouraging people to either work less or drop out of the workforce entirely.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A state-owned enterprise is a business enterprise where the government or state has significant control through full, majority, or significant minority ownership. During the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak Larry Kudlow, the White House’s top economic advisor, said the Trump administration would consider asking for an equity stake in corporations that needed taxpayer aid. “One of the ideas is, if we provide assistance, we might take an equity position,” Kudlow said Wednesday at the White House, adding that the 2008 bailout of [the automaker General Motors] had been a good deal for the federal government. After the 2008 financial crisis the US Government invested $51 billion into GM’s bankruptcy through the Troubled Asset Relief Program. In 2013 the Government sold its stake in GM for $39 billion. The Center for Automotive Research found that the bailout saved 1.2 million jobs and preserved 34.9 billion in tax revenue. Proponents argue that US taxpayers deserve a return on their investments if private companies need capital. Opponents argue that governments should never own shares of private companies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A tariff is a tax on imports or exports between countries.
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 2019 the European Union and U.S. Democratic Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren issued proposals that would regulate Facebook, Google and Amazon. Senator Warren proposed that the U.S. government should designate tech companies who have global revenue of over $25 billion as “platform utilities" and break them up into smaller companies. Senator Warren argues that the companies have “bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else.” Lawmakers in the European Union proposed a set of rules which include a blacklist of unfair trading practices, requirements that companies set up an internal system to handle complaints and allow businesses to group together to sue platforms. Opponents argue that these companies have benefited consumers by providing free online tools and bring more competition into commerce. Opponents also point out that history has shown that dominance in technology is a revolving door and that many companies (including IBM in the 1980’s) have cycled through it with little to no help from the government.
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.
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.
Vaccines are not required in Ireland although the Department of Health strongly recommend vaccinations.
The President of Ireland is directly elected by secret ballot using the Alternative Vote, the single-winner analogue of the Single Transferable Vote. Presently, only Irish citizens resident in the Republic aged eighteen or over may vote; a 1983 bill to extend the right to resident British citizens was ruled unconstitutional. However, there have been many suggestions for reforming the office of President and its election process over the years. In March 2017, the government proposed holding a referendum on whether Irish citizens living outside the country, including in Northern Ireland, should be able to vote in Irish presidential elections, with the vote expected to go ahead during 2018.
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.
Two constitutional referendums were held simultaneously in Ireland on 4 October 2013. The Thirty-second Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2013 proposed abolishing the Seanad, the upper house of the Oireachtas, and was rejected despite opinion polls to the contrary, whilst the Thirty-third Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2013 proposed the establishment of a Court of Appeal to sit between the High Court and the Supreme Court, taking over the existing appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, and was approved by voters.
Military Service is currently not required in Ireland.
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 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.
In November 2018 German chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron of France announced that they would support the creation of a European army. Ms. Merkel said that the EU should rely less on the U.S. for military support and that “Europeans should take our fate more into our own hands if we want to survive as a European community.” Ms. Merkley said the army would not oppose NATO. President Marcon said the army is needed to protect the EU against China, Russia and the United States. Proponents argue that the EU lacks a united defence force to handle sudden conflicts outside of NATO. Opponents question how the army would fund itself since many EU countries spend less than 2% of their GDP on defence.
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.