Ireland Agriculture and Fishing Overview

Ireland Facts

Ireland: Known as a green island, the country invites you to explore the vibrant lifestyle of locals as well as rugged landscapes, pub nights and bustling cities.
Capital: Dublin
Official language: Irish, English
Currency: Euro
Passport and visa: A Finnish citizen needs a passport or identity card as a travel document.
Time difference to Finland: -2

Agriculture and fishing

Almost two-thirds of the land area is cultivated or used as pasture. Although the importance of agriculture to the economy has diminished, the industry plays a bigger role in Ireland than in most other Western European countries. In 2010, almost five percent of the labor force was employed in agriculture, forestry and fishing.

  • CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Ireland. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.

The sunny, mild and humid climate complicates grain cultivation but favors livestock management. Particularly important is the production of milk and meat, most of which is exported. Ireland is the EU’s largest exporter of beef. In 2011, the agricultural industry benefited from high world market prices, especially dairy products and meat.

The most important crops are vegetables, sugar beets, potatoes, mushrooms, and cereals, including barley, which form the basis of the country’s large brewery industry.

Ireland’s membership of the EC / EU provided farmers with both financial contributions and access to a larger market. More than half of agricultural income came from the EU budget in 1998, but since the beginning of the 1990s, EU agricultural support has decreased (in 2011 the average contribution was EUR 18,000 per farm). For Ireland defense and foreign policy, please check relationshipsplus.

Most of the farms are relatively small, with an average of 33 hectares, but the bay is still larger than in the early 1990s. Roughly every third farmer works with another in addition to agriculture.

The number of farms with organic cultivation has increased rapidly, but still dominates conventional agriculture.

Traditional coastal fishing has been expanded with a sea fishing fleet, but investments are also made in fish farms. Salmon farming in particular has been successful. Ireland is also known for its crab fishing. Salmon, cod, tuna, haddock and whiting are also caught.

The danger of depletion has led to the EU imposing quotas on the size of catches that may be admitted. However, this has created a problem where fishermen throw back large quantities of fish in the sea because they have exceeded their quota.


Agriculture’s share of GDP

0.9 percent (2018)

Percentage of land used for agriculture

64.5 percent (2016)

  • Offers how the 3-letter acronym of IRL stands for the state of Ireland in geography.



Nearly 100,000 British applied for Irish citizenship in 2018

January 31

Nearly 100,000 Britons applied for Irish citizenship in 2018. This is about 22 percent more than the year before. Other EU countries, including Germany, have also reported an increase in British citizenship applications.

Warning: The exit agreement cannot be renegotiated

December 14

Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar makes a mark against the UK Government, saying that the EU is not prepared to change the exit agreement agreed by the parties. It is then that his British colleague Theresa May traveled to Brussels to persuade the other EU leaders to renegotiate the pledges Britain made in the so-called backstop issue in order to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Ireland plans for Brexit without a deal

December 20

If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, it will cause major difficulties for Ireland in almost all areas of the economy. This is stated by the Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, while the government is presenting the measures it plans to take if that is the case. These include land purchases in Dublin and Rosslare to manage emissions increases, staff reinforcements at the Ministry of Agriculture, and plans for continued police cooperation between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The sectors that are most affected are the agricultural and food sectors, transport, the pharmaceutical industry and the retail sector, among others.

New abortion legislation is approved

December 14

The new Irish abortion legislation has now been approved by both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. It will come into force when it is also signed by the President. This means that Ireland will have a free abortion up to the twelfth week of pregnancy, if the fetus is malformed or if the mother’s physical or mental health is in danger. A review of the legislation will be done after three years.


Preliminary Brexit agreement clear

November 13

UK and EU negotiators agree on a preliminary Brexit agreement. The preliminary agreement which is on 585 pages states, among other things, how much the UK should pay to the EU, what rights EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in an EU country should have, and that the exit in May 2019 should be followed by a 21 a month-long transition period for EU regulations to apply, but for the United Kingdom not participating in the EU decision-making process. At the same time, the parties will negotiate the future relations between the UK and the EU, including a trade agreement. To deal with the sensitive issue of the Northern Ireland border, the UK and the EU should, if a new agreement is not completed in July 2020 six months before the transition period expires, form a temporary customs union (single customs territory) comprising most goods, but not fish products. If the parties do not agree, the Customs Union will remain until a new settlement is completed.


Michael D Higgins wins the presidential election

October 26th

Michael D Higgins wins the presidential election with almost 56 percent of the vote. In second place comes the businessman Peter Casey, who gets just over 23 percent. Casey makes a better choice than many predicted, probably following statements in which he criticized Ireland’s traveling people and accused them of not paying taxes and settling in other people’s land areas. None of the other four candidates will exceed 10 percent. The turnout is low, just under 44 percent. In the referendum held at the same time, 65 percent vote for the crime of blasphemy to be removed from the constitution. Originally, it was planned that voters would also decide whether to abandon a writing on the woman’s role in the home, but that part has been postponed since a committee asked for more time to review how the legislation would be affected.

The government approves excavation of mass graves at maternity homes

October 23

The Irish Government approves that a full excavation should be made of the mass graves found at a Tuam maternity home in County Galway. The hundreds of children buried there should be identified and given a worthy burial, says Minister of Children Katherine Zappone. Among other things, a state commission has determined that at least 796 children died at the maternity home between 1925 and 1961, and that there is no missing information on where and when they were buried. The commission was set up after a local historian, Catherine Corless, revealed a number of abuses at the maternity home, including the mass graves.

Brexit and housing construction dominate the new budget

October 9

In its budget for 2019, the government of € 1.5 billion sets a special fund, which will serve as a buffer if Britain’s exit from the EU will cause Ireland major financial problems. Extra money will also go to customs management and government loans to SMEs as well as agricultural companies. The government is also investing in accelerating housing construction, and promises, among other things, to build 10,000 rental housing. A few days later, the Irish central bank presents its forecast for economic growth for 2018 and 2019. The figure for 2018 is written up to 6.7 percent, while it looks to be slightly lower in 2019: 4.8 per cent.


Six candidates are running for president

September 26th

It is now clear who the candidates will be in the presidential election on October 26. The likely president is 77-year-old Michael D Higgins, who is running for re-election. In opinion polls he is supported by about 67 percent of voters, he also has backing Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Labor Party. His counterparts include the businessman and entrepreneur Seán Gallagher, senator and psychologist Joan Freeman, Liadh Ní Riada TV producer and EU parliamentarian representing Sinn Féin, Peter Casey, entrepreneur and businessman with roots in Northern Ireland, also from Gavin Duffy TV presenter and media educated many Irish politicians.

Apple pays missing tax to Ireland

September 18

The US IT company Apple has now paid the full amount, which, according to the European Commission, owes Ireland in missing taxes: just over € 13 billion and an additional € 1 billion in interest. The money is deposited into a special account pending the European Court of Justice to hear Ireland’s and Apple’s appeals. It is expected to take several years before a final decision is made. According to the Commission, the large tax relief that the US company has received in Ireland can be regarded as State subsidies which distort international competition.


Pope Francis asks forgiveness for the Church’s abuse

August 26th

At an outdoor mass in front of over 100,000 spectators in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Pope Francis asks for forgiveness for the abuses committed by priests and others within the Catholic Church in the country. He mentions both those who have been sexually abused, women who have been exploited in forced labor and those who have been forced to adopt their children. Francis also holds a single meeting with eight victims of abuse. In a speech during the Pope’s visit, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar emphasized the need for a new relationship between the state and the church, where religion no longer plays such a central role. Varadkar also places great emphasis on dark sides of Irish history. Elsewhere in the country, people, including many victims of the abuses, gather to protest against the church. It is the first time since 1979 that a pope visits Ireland, when there were significantly more people who went out into the streets to welcome John Paul II.


New referendums are announced: on women’s role and blasphemy

July 5

The government announces a new referendum on a constitutional change this autumn. This time around, the writing of a letter says that women should avoid working because they take responsibility for the home. The vote must be held at the same time as the presidential election. On the same day, the Irish will also vote on whether the ban on blasphemy should be removed from the constitution.


The former bank director is sentenced to six years in prison

June 20

A former chief of Anglo Irish Bank is sentenced to six years in prison for fraud. David Drumm is accused of transferring large sums between the bank and Irish Life and Permanent to make the bank’s finances look better than it was. Drumm was extradited from the US where he moved after the bank collapse. As for the penalty, the judge takes into account that Drumm has already spent five months in custody in the United States. Two colleagues of Drumm and the former head of Irish Life and Permanent have previously been sentenced to prison for their involvement in the crime.

The President apologizes to women for forced labor under the auspices of the Church

6th June

Hundreds of women who were previously forced to be detained and exploited for forced labor in the Catholic Church’s laundries gather in Dublin. The women have been invited to the presidential palace where President Michael Higgins also makes an official apology for how they have been treated. The last laundry was closed as late as 1996. In 2013, even the Catholic parishes that operated the laundries apologized to the women. The Irish state has also paid out over € 26 million in damages to almost 700 affected women.

Varadkar apologizes for adoption scandal

June 1st

Prime Minister Varadkar apologizes to 126 children who have been abducted through the Catholic adoption agency St Patrick’s Guild. It has been found that the children born between 1946 and 1969 have been illegally adopted and their birth certificates have been falsified so that the adoptive parents are said to be the biological parents of the children. This is likely to affect significantly more children, and the government is launching an investigation to investigate the matter. Fergus Finlay of the Barnados organization points out in a television program that the information is not new. Thousands of Irish women who had children without being married or were not considered to live by the standards were often forced to abandon their children for adoption.


A clear majority votes to abolish the ban on abortion

May 25

A clear majority of Irish people, 66.4 percent, vote for the so-called eighth amendment to the constitution that prohibits abortion to be abolished. The supplement means that a fetus has the same right to life as the pregnant woman. Only one constituency, Donegal in the far north, votes no to the constitutional amendment. The vote is held after an intensive and highly polarized election campaign. The turnout is 64 percent. Prime Minister Varadkar has already pledged to submit a proposal for new legislation that allows abortion until the twelfth week of pregnancy (and up to 24th week in particularly severe medical conditions). He now says that the new legislation should be completed by the end of the year. However, it is noted that as many as 80 percent of Fianna Fáil MPs vote in the referendum (although leader Micheál Martin votes yes). Catholic Archbishop Eamon Martin says he feels great sadness over the exit. The Catholic Church has maintained a low profile during the election campaign. Here you can read more about the referendum: Ireland’s abortion referendum – here’s what you need to know.

Facebook blocks foreign advertisers ahead of the abortion vote

May 8

Ahead of the upcoming referendum on abprt, Facebook says the company should block advertisements from advertisers outside Ireland. This is due to concerns that foreign players should try to interfere in the elections.


The lowest unemployment rate in ten years

April 30th

Unemployment in Ireland falls below six percent. It is the lowest figure in the country in over ten years. When unemployment was at its peak in 2012, 16 per cent of Irish people did not find work.

The government and Apple agree on a refund

April 25

Ireland’s Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe agrees with Apple on how the US IT company will pay the € 13 billion it owes the Irish state in the absence of tax. This is done according to the requirements of the European Commission. However, Ireland and Apple have appealed the Commission’s decision to the European Court of Justice.

The Minister of Finance refuses to approve bonus schemes

Ireland’s Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe refuses to approve a new bonus system that Allied Irish Bank had planned to introduce in order to retain its top executives who would otherwise risk moving on to more well-paid jobs. Since the financial crisis, the Irish state owns 71 percent of the shares in the bank. In connection with the crisis, a salary cap was set at half a million euros and all bonuses were abolished. However, Donohoe agrees to review the bank’s pay policy.

High growth in Ireland

April 7

According to EU figures, Ireland’s economy grew by almost 8 percent in 2017, which was the highest figure in the Union. New forecasts indicate nearly as high growth for 2018, but as in 2015, the numbers are considered inflated, not least because of Apple’s success with smart phones and other multinational companies’ activities.


A referendum on abortion will be held on May 25

March 28

The referendum on whether or not Ireland should liberalize the country’s strict abortion legislation on May 25. Then the voters have to decide whether the so-called Eighth Supplement, where the ban on abortion is enshrined in the constitution, and which gives the unborn child the same right to life as the pregnant woman, should be abolished. If voters vote for this, the government is planning new legislation that will allow abortion until the twelfth week of pregnancy. However, the total ban on abortion was lifted in 2013 (see Social conditions).

Ireland expels Russian diplomat

March 27th

Ireland expels a Russian diplomat as a result of a nerve poisoning attack on a Russian former spy and his daughter in the UK in early March. It is taking place in concerted action with some 20 countries, mainly in the EU, in solidarity with the British government accusing Russia of being behind the attack. In total, over 100 Russian diplomats are expelled, 60 of whom are from the United States. Moscow denies all involvement in the poison attack and later responds by expelling an Irish diplomat.

Court of Justice: British military did not commit torture

March 20

The Irish Government loses a case in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). This applies to 14 men who were arrested and held in prison by the British military in Northern Ireland in 1971 without any trial being held. In 1978, the court ruled that men were subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment, but not torture (men’s heads were covered, they were prevented from sleeping, subjected to disturbing noises (so-called white noise), but they were also beaten and subjected to death threats). Once again, it was the Irish Government, which was then led by Fianna Fáil, who made a complaint to the court. In 2014, the Irish Government appealed to the court to have the verdict reviewed, which it is now denied. One of the seven judges had a different opinion.


Ireland loses Brexit, no matter what a settlement looks like

February 13

A study commissioned by the Irish Government shows that the UK exit from the EU will have a negative impact on the Irish economy, regardless of what a final Brexit settlement will look like. In the worst case scenario, Ireland’s gross domestic product (GDP) could fall by 7 percent by 2030. If Britain’s relationship with the EU were similar to Norway’s, the economic collapse would remain at just under 3 percent.

Mary Lou McDonald becomes new leader of Sinn Fein

February 10

Mary Lou McDonald is elected new leader of Sinn Fein, after Gerry Adams, who has been in the post for 35 years. Michelle O’Neill is simultaneously appointed Deputy Party Leader. McDonald, who has no personal experience of the violence in Northern Ireland, promises to work for a referendum on a united Ireland. O’Neill is the party’s chief representative in Northern Ireland, while McDonald is in the Irish Parliament.


A referendum on abortion will be held in May

January 29th

The Irish government announces that a referendum on abortion will be held at the end of May. It is primarily about the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, which states that who states that the unborn child has the same right to life as the pregnant woman, should be abolished. A special commission will be created, where the government and the opposition parties will discuss how the question in the referendum should be formulated. The Fine Gael government party is split on the issue, 18 of its MPs support a change of law, four oppose it and 28 have yet to say how they intend to vote. Opinion polls indicate that 59 percent will vote for a constitutional change and free abortion from the twelfth week, while 29 percent plan to vote against and 15 percent have not yet decided. Young voters are more likely to vote to abolish the ban on abortion,

Ireland wants to play an active role in Northern Ireland talks

January 24th

New negotiations to establish a provincial government in Northern Ireland are starting today. Prior to the talks, the new British Northern Ireland Minister Karen Bradley has had close contacts with the Irish Government. Prime Minister Varadkar says he is willing to play an active role in the deliberations. At the same time, a party leadership change is underway within Sinn Fein, when Mary Lou McDonald, who represents a constituency in Dublin in the Irish Parliament, will take over after Gerry Adams. She will be appointed at a special party convention on February 10, where she is the only candidate for the party leader post.

Fianna Fáil’s leaders support new liberal abortion law

January 18

Opposition leader Micheál Martin says he has now changed his mind about Ireland’s strict abortion laws and that he will now vote for them to be abolished in the referendum to be held in 2018. Martin is only the 10th member of Fianna Fáil to openly support legalization of abortion. It is not yet clear whether the government will follow the proposal for a liberal abortion law presented by a parliamentary committee at the end of 2017 (see December 2017). Later in the month, Prime Minister Varadkar also says he intends to support a liberalization of the abortion law.

Ireland Agriculture and Fishing