Denis O'Donovan is an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who has served as Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann since June 2016 and a Senator for the Agricultural Panel since 2011. He served as Leas-Chathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann from April 2011 to 2016, he served as a Teachta Dála for the Cork South-West constituency from 2002 to 2007. A native of Bantry, he was elected to Cork County Council in 1985, re-elected in 1991 and 1999, he was nominated by the Taoiseach to the Seanad in 1989. He was an unsuccessful candidate at the 1993 Seanad election but was elected to the Seanad in 1997 on the Industrial and Commercial Panel. O'Donovan was elected to Dáil Éireann, on his fifth attempt, at the 2002 general election for the Cork South-West constituency, he lost his Dáil seat at the 2007 general election, however he was subsequently elected to the Seanad. O'Donovan was the Chairman of the all-party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution, established in December 2002 to review the Constitution, he is a qualified solicitor.
In June 2010, he lost the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party whip when he failed to support the government on the Dog Breeding Establishment bill. He was not elected, he was re-elected to the Seanad in April 2011. He was Leas-Chathaoirleach of the 24th Seanad. and was re-elected again to Seanad Éireann on the Agricultural Panel in April 2016. He became Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann on the 8 June 2016. Denis O'Donovan's page on the Fianna Fáil website
Cumann na nGaedheal
Cumann na nGaedheal, sometimes spelt Cumann na nGaedhael, was a political party in the Irish Free State, which formed the government from 1923 to 1932. In 1933 it merged with smaller groups to form the Fine Gael party. In 1922 the pro-Treaty Government of the Irish Free State lost the support of Sinn Féin, its political party; the need to create a party supporting the government was not immediate. Cumann na nGaedheal was the name of the antecedent nationalist umbrella organisation to Sinn Féin formed in 1900; the second Cumann na nGaedheal did not come into existence until more than a year on 27 April 1923 when the pro-Treaty TDs recognised the need for a party organisation to win elections. The party's ability to influence the government was limited; the party was centre-right in outlook. The pro-Treaty wing of Sinn Féin had decided to break off and become a distinct party in late December 1922, but its launch was delayed until after the New Year as a direct consequence of the turmoil caused by the Irish Civil War.
The leadership of the pro-Treaty Sinn Féin in 1922 included Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins and W. T. Cosgrave. Cosgrave and Griffith had been prominent in Sinn Féin since the 1900s, while Collins rose through its ranks after the 1916 Easter Rising. Griffith and Collins died in August 1922 during the early stages of the Civil War, leaving Cosgrave to lead the pro-Treaty Provisional Government in the run-up to the formal establishment of the Irish Free State. Cosgrave had fought in the Easter Rising and had been prominent in the Government of the Irish Republic. Difficult years of state-building amidst political violence characterised its time in government; the Irish Unionist Alliance was dissolved in 1922, when many of its followers swung their support behind Cumann na nGaedheal, seeing it as less hostile to them than the anti-Treaty Republicans and the Fianna Fáil. The first election the party contested was the general election of 1923, when it won 63 seats, with 39% of the votes cast; until 1932, Cumann na nGaedheal continued to form the Government of the Irish Free State, with Cosgrave as President of the Executive Council.
In government, the party established the institutions upon which the current Irish state is still built. It re-established law and order through a number of public safety acts in a country that had long been divided by war and competing ideologies; the party's Minister for Home Affairs, Kevin O'Higgins, established the Garda Síochána, an unarmed police force. As Minister for External Affairs in 1927, he was successful in increasing the Free State's autonomy within the British Commonwealth of Nations. Cumann na nGaedheal as a government party was characterized by conservatism. Thus, when J. J. Walsh, Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, resigned in 1927 due to the government's lack of support for protectionism, he sent an open letter to Cosgrave, claiming inter alia that the party had gone ″over to the most reactionary elements of the state″. In the general election in June 1927, Cumann na Gaedheal performed poorly, winning just 47 seats with 27% of the vote, was able to survive in office only because of Fianna Fáil's continued refusal to take up its 44 seats due to the party's rejection of the Oath of Allegiance to the Free State.
The assassination of its controversial Minister Kevin O'Higgins by Republicans shortly after the election came as a bitter blow to the party. In response to this act of violence, the state introduced a second Public Safety Act, which introduced the death penalty and was unpopular with the public, an Electoral Amendment Act which forced elected TDs to take the Oath of Allegiance, thus the murder indirectly led to Fianna Fáil's forced entry to the Dáil and in August 1927 the government narrowly survived a vote of no confidence. Following victory in two by-elections, Cosgrave called a snap election in September 1927. Cumann na nGaedheal regained most of the ground lost in June, winning 62 seats and 39% of the vote, although most of these gains were from potential allies. For the first time the party now faced vigorous parliamentary opposition in the Dáil, as Fianna Fáil made significant gains. Since the foundation of the state Dáil business had been calm as the small Labour party functioned as the official opposition in the absence of die-hard Republicans.
The scene was now set for a volatile atmosphere in parliament as the two sides who had fought each other in the civil war now met face to face. The party's support base slipped to Éamon de Valera's new party Fianna Fáil after its inception in 1926. Cosgrave's Cumann na nGaedheal became identified with protecting the treaty and defending the new State while it seemed pre-occupied with public safety. Economically the party favoured balanced budgets and free trade at a time when its opponents advocated protectionism; the weak economy of the Free State suffered during the Great Depression. Nonetheless it came as a surprise when Cumann na nGaedheal was defeated by Fianna Fáil in the general election of February 1932, winning only 57 seats to Fianna Fáil's 72. Having spent its entire existence prior to 1932 in government, Cumann na nGaedheal was ill-prepared for a role in opposition, its support base contracted further in the general election of January 1933, winning 48 seats compared to Fianna Fáil's 77.
The party found itself to counter de Valera's populism and was labelled the party of the middle class. The party subsequently entered discussions with the National Centre Party and the
The Oireachtas, sometimes referred to as Oireachtas Éireann, is the legislature of Ireland. The Oireachtas consists of: The President of Ireland The two houses of the Oireachtas:Dáil Éireann Seanad Éireann The houses of the Oireachtas sit in Leinster House in Dublin, an eighteenth-century ducal palace; the directly elected Dáil is by far the more powerful branch of the Oireachtas. The term oireachtas derives from the Old Irish word airech, its first recorded use as the name of a legislative body was within the Irish Free State. Dáil Éireann, the lower house, is directly elected under universal suffrage of all Irish and United Kingdom citizens who are residents and at least eighteen years old. An election is held at least once every five years as required by law, the house can be dissolved at any time at the request of the Taoiseach. Dáil elections use a system of proportional representation by way of a single transferable vote; the Dáil has had 166 members since 1981. The Seanad is not directly elected but consists of a mixture of members selected in a number of different ways.
43 senators are elected by councillors and parliamentarians, 11 are appointed by the Taoiseach, six are elected by two university constituencies, thus having 60 members in total. The President of Ireland is directly elected once every seven years, may serve a maximum of two terms, however, if, as has occurred on a number of occasions, a consensus among the larger political parties can result in only a single candidate being nominated, no actual ballot takes place. To become law, a bill must first be approved by both the Dáil and in most circumstances the Seanad, signed into law by the President. Bills to amend the Constitution must be approved by the People in a referendum prior to being presented to the President. In most circumstances, the President is in effect obliged to sign all laws approved by the Houses of the Oireachtas, although he or she has the power to refer most bills to the Supreme Court for a ruling on constitutionality; the powers of the Seanad are in effect limited to delay rather than veto.
It is the Dáil, the supreme tier of the Irish legislature. The general enacting formula for Acts of the Oireachtas is: "Be it enacted by the Oireachtas as follows:-", for an act with a preamble this enacting formula is, instead, "Be it therefore enacted by the Oireachtas as follows:—"; the Oireachtas has exclusive power to: Legislate, including a power vested in the Dáil of approving the financial resolutions relevant to the budget. However, the courts have allowed the Oireachtas to delegate limited legislative powers to other entities, such as Government Ministers. Create subordinate legislatures. Propose changes to the constitution, which must be submitted to a referendum. Raise military or armed forces. Allow international agreements to become part of the domestic law of the state. Pass certain laws having extraterritorial effect. Enact, when it considers a state of emergency to exist any law it deems necessary, with imposition of capital punishment being the only excluded act in all circumstances.
Laws are invalid if, to the extent that, they contradict the constitution. In the event of a conflict, EU law takes precedence over acts of the Oireachtas, as is common throughout the European Union, it may not retrospectively criminalise acts. It may not enact any law providing for the imposition of the death penalty during a state of emergency; the Oireachtas has a number of joint committees. There are thirteen of these: Joint Committee on Agriculture and the Marine Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection Joint Committee on Environment and the Gaeltacht Joint Committee on European Union Affairs Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade and Defence Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement Joint Committee on Health and Children Joint Committee on Jobs and Innovation Joint Committee on Justice and Equality Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Joint Committee on Administration Standing Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills Working Group of Committee Chairmen The word oireachtas comes from the Irish language name MacOireachtaigh, believed to have been advisors to ancient kings and has been the title of two parliaments in Irish history: the current Oireachtas of Ireland, since 1937, before that, the Oireachtas of the Irish Free State of 1922–1937.
The earliest parliament in Ireland was the Parliament of Ireland, founded in the thirteenth century as the supreme legislative body of the lordship of Ireland and was in existence until 1801. This parliament governed the English-dominated part of Ireland, which at first was limited to Dublin and surrounding cities, but grew to include the entire island, but the Irish Parliament was, from the passage of Poynings' Law in 1494 until its repeal in 1782, subordinate to the English, British, Parliament. This Parliament consisted of the King of Ireland, the same person as the King of England, a House of the Lords and a House of Commons. In 1800 the Irish Parliament abolished itself when, after widespread bribery of members, it adopted the Act of Union, which came int
Fine Gael is a liberal-conservative political party in Ireland. Fine Gael is the governing and largest party in Ireland in terms of members of the Oireachtas and Irish members of European Parliament; the party has a membership of 21,000 and is the senior partner governing in a minority coalition with several independent politicians, with party leader Leo Varadkar serving as Taoiseach. Varadkar succeeded Enda Kenny as Taoiseach on 14 June. Fine Gael was founded on 8 September 1933 following the merger of its parent party Cumann na nGaedheal, the National Centre Party and the National Guard, its origins lie in the struggle for Irish independence and the pro-Treaty side in the Irish Civil War and Michael Collins, in particular, is identified as the founder of the movement. Fine Gael is considered to be more of a proponent of market liberalism than its traditional rival, Fianna Fáil. However, apart from brief minority governments, Fine Gael has governed Ireland without a coalition that included the Labour Party, a social-democratic, centre-left party.
Fine Gael describes itself as a "party of the progressive centre" which it defines as acting "in a way, right for Ireland, regardless of dogma or ideology". It lists its core values as "equality of opportunity, free enterprise and reward, security and hope." It is in favour of the European Union and opposed to physical force Irish republicanism. The party's youth wing, Young Fine Gael, was formed in 1977, has four thousand members. Fine Gael is a founding member of the European People's Party; the following is timeline of participation in governments and positions on proposed constitutional referenda: 1933: Fine Gael is formed through the merger of Cumann na nGaedheal with two smaller groups, the National Centre Party and the National Guard known as the Blueshirts. 1937: It campaigns against the enactment of a new constitution proposed by Fianna Fáil advocating a no vote in the referendum, however the new constitution was approved by a majority of voters. 1948–51: It forms part of Ireland’s first coalition government including the Labour Party, Clann na Poblachta, Clann na Talmhan and the National Labour Party.
1954–57: It takes part in a three-party coalition government with the Labour Party and Clann na Talmhan. 1959: It opposed a proposal to amend the constitution to scrap proportional representation with single member constituencies, advocating a no vote in the referendum, the amendment was rejected by voters. 1968: It opposed two proposals to amend the constitution advocating no votes for both proposals, a proposal to permit greater malapportionment in favour of rural areas, rejected by voters and another proposal to amend the constitution to scrap proportional representation with single member constituencies, again rejected by voters, this time by a larger margin than 1959. 1972: It supported the campaign for a yes vote in the referendum to join the European Communities, voters approved of this proposal in the referendum. 1973: It supported the campaign for a yes vote for two constitutional amendments, a proposal to reduce to minimum voting age from 21 to 18 and a proposal to remove the "special position" of the Roman Catholic Church from the constitution in order to make Ireland a secular state.
Both amendments were approved by voters in referenda. 1973–77: It takes part in a two-party coalition government with the Labour Party. 1979: It supported the campaign for a yes vote for two constitutional amendments, one proposal to reverse a 1977 finding that certain orders made by the adoption board were unconstitutional, a proposal to extend the voting franchise for Seanad Éireann. Both amendments were approved by voters in referenda. 1981–82: It takes part in a two-party minority coalition government with the Labour Party. 1982 –87: It takes part in a two-party coalition government with the Labour Party. 1983: It was divided on the referendum on the Eighth amendment, a bill introduced by the Fianna Fáil minority government of 1982 to introduce a constitutional de facto ban on abortion, though the Fine Gael party leader at the time, Garret FitzGerald advocated a no vote, the amendment was approved by voters in the referendum. 1984: It proposed and supported the campaign for a yes vote for a constitutional amendment to extend the voting franchise to allow votes for non-citizens who are residents.
This amendment was approved by voters in the referendum. 1986: It proposed and supported the campaign for a yes for a constitutional amendment to make divorce constitutional. This amendment was rejected by voters in the referendum. 1987: It supported the campaign for a yes vote for a constitutional amendment permitting the state to ratify the Single European Act. This amendment was approved by voters in the referendum. 1992: It supported the campaign for a yes vote for a constitutional amendment permitting the state to ratify the Maastricht Treaty. This amendment was approved by voters in the referendum. 1994–97: It takes part in a three-party coalition government with the Labour Party and Democratic Left. 1995–97: It proposed and supported the campaign for a yes vote for three constitutional amendments between 1995 and 1997. An amendment in 1995 to make divorce constitutional. An amendment in 1996 to reverse a 1965 Supreme Court ruling by allowed a court to refuse someone bail if it suspected a person would commit a serious criminal offence while at liberty.
An amendment in 1997 to reverse a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that meetings of the cabinet were absolu
James Campbell, 1st Baron Glenavy
James Henry Mussen Campbell, 1st Baron Glenavy was an Irish lawyer, politician in the British Parliament and in the Oireachtas of the Irish Free State. He was Lord Chancellor of Ireland, he was born in Dublin and educated at Dr. Stacpoole's School in Kingstown and Trinity College, graduating BA in 1874. After being called to the Irish bar in 1878, Campbell was made an Irish Queen's Counsel in 1892 and six years was elected Irish Unionist MP for the Dublin seat of St. Stephen's Green; the following year he was called to the English bar, in February 1902 was elected a Bencher of Gray's Inn. In 1903 was elected to the House of Commons as representative for Dublin University becoming Solicitor-General for Ireland that same year, he was made the country's Attorney General in 1905, being appointed an Irish Privy Counsellor, in 1916 became Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. Considerable controversy surrounded the efforts to appoint him a judge: the initial proposal to appoint him Lord Chancellor of Ireland met with fierce resistance from Irish Nationalists, great efforts were made to find another position for him.
It refused. Pressure was put on the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, Richard Cherry, ill, to step down. Cherry despite his failing health was reluctant to do so, but agreed to retire in December 1916. Maurice Healy in his memoirs remarks that Campbell was considered the finest Irish barrister of his time, with the possible exception of Edward Carson, but as a judge he was somewhat fretful and impatient, with a tendency to interrupt counsel. Campbell was created a baronet in 1917, the following year was appointed Lord Chancellor of Ireland. During the Irish War of Independence, his position was somewhat ambiguous; as head of the judiciary, he was expected by the British Government to do all in his power to uphold British rule. This pragmatic attitude infuriated the British administration, some of whom regarded it as a betrayal. Mark Sturgis, the Dublin Castle official whose diaries give a vivid picture of the last years of British rule, condemned Campbell bitterly as a coward who "does nothing and thinks of nothing but the best way to show Sinn Féin that he is neutral and passive."
Noted Irish historian R. B. McDowell has commented in relation to this and similar criticism from his successor as Lord Chancellor, Sir John Ross that neither man intended to stay and live in Southern Ireland, Ross moving to Tyrone, Sturgis safely back to England; the implication is that it's easier to be stridently and publicly anti-IRA if you will not be living in a state being run by them subsequently. On relinquishing office in 1921 he was ennobled as Baron Glenavy, of Milltown in the County of Dublin. In 1922 he was nominated to the new Free State Seanad by W. T. Cosgrave, was elected by all of his fellow senators as its first chairman on 12 December 1922; this was in the midst of the Irish Civil War and shortly after his appointment his family home in Kimmage, Dublin was burnt by the anti-Treaty IRA, as part of their campaign against the representatives of the new state. After the 1925 Seanad election he was again elected as chairman on 9 December 1925 by a vote of 40–12, he did not seek re-election when his term in the Seanad expired in 1928.
In January 1923 Lord Glenavy chaired the Judicial Committee appointed to advise the Executive Council of the Irish Free State on the creation of a new courts system for the Irish Free State. His recommendations were implemented in the Courts of Justice Act 1924 which created the Irish courts system as it exists; this replaced, indeed replicated the existing court system as established by the Government of Ireland Act 1920. The so-called Dail'courts' were declared to have been illegal however their outstanding'judgements' were conferred with legal standing by a separate Act of the Oireachtas. Glenavy clashed with another member of the Committee, Hugh Kennedy, soon to become the first Chief Justice of Ireland, in favour of far more radical changes than those recommended by Glenavy and a majority of the Committee. Political differences were compounded by the fact. Lord Glenavy was buried in the city's Mount Jerome Cemetery, his parents were William Mussen Campbell and Delia Poole Graham, the daughter of Henry Francis Graham of Newtown Abbey, County Kildare.
William and Delia lived at Prospect House, County Dublin. His paternal grandfather's family was from Magheragall in County Antrim, his son Charles married the Irish artist Beatrice Elvery. His grandson, under the name Patrick Campbell, was a noted satirist in the early years of television, he was a longtime captain of one of the panels in the BBC gameshow Call My Bluff against British comedy writer Frank Muir. Another grandson, Michael Campbell the 4th and last Lord Glenavy was the author of the homosexual novel Lord Dismiss Us. Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by James Campbell A portrait of Lord Glenavy
Fianna Fáil Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party, is a conservative political party in Ireland. The party was founded as an Irish republican party on 23 March 1926 by Éamon de Valera and his supporters after they split from Sinn Féin on the issue of abstentionism, in the aftermath of the Irish Civil War. Fianna Fáil has since 1927 been one of Ireland's two major parties, along with Fine Gael; the party dominated Irish political life for most of the 20th century, since its foundation either it or Fine Gael has led every government. Between 1989 and 2011, it led coalition governments with parties of the right. Fianna Fáil was last in government from 1997 to 2011 under Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen, with a periodic high of 81 seats in 2002, reduced to 77 in 2007 and to 20 in 2011, the lowest in the party's history. Having won 44 seats at the 2016 general election, Fianna Fáil is the largest Opposition party in both houses of the Oireachtas, with party leader Micheál Martin entering into a confidence and supply arrangement with a Fine Gael-led minority government at the beginning of the 32nd Dáil.
Fianna Fáil is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and of Liberal International. Since 9 February 2019, Fianna Fáil has been in partnership with the Social Democratic and Labour Party in Northern Ireland. Fianna Fáil was founded by a former leader of Sinn Féin, he and a number of other members split from Sinn Féin when a motion he proposed—which called for elected members to be allowed to take their seats in Dáil Éireann if and when the controversial Oath of Allegiance was removed—failed to pass at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in 1926. The party adopted its name on 2 April of the same year. While it was opposed to the Treaty settlement, it rejected abstentionism, instead aiming to republicanise the Irish Free State from within. Fianna Fáil's platform of economic autarky had appeal among the farmers, working-class people and the poor, while alienating more affluent classes; the party first entered government on 9 March 1932. It was in power for 61 of the 79 years between and the election of 2011.
Its longest continuous period in office has been 11 months. Its longest single period out of office in the 20th century was four months. Seven of the party's eight leaders have served as Taoiseach. Fianna Fáil joined the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe party on 16 April 2009, the party's Members of the European Parliament sat in the ALDE Group during the 7th European Parliament term from June 2009 to 1 July 2014; the party is an observer affiliate of the Liberal International. It was the largest party in the Dáil after every general election from that of 1932 until that of 2007. In the 2011 general election it suffered the worst defeat of a sitting government in the history of the Irish state; this loss was described as "historic" in its proportions, "unthinkable". The party sank from being the largest in the Dáil to the third-largest. Fianna Fáil's success was credited by The Irish Times to its local structure; the basic unit was the cumann. At the party's height it had an average of 75 per constituency.
The party claimed 55,000 members in 2004, a figure which political scientist Eoin O'Malley considers exaggerated compared to membership figures for other parties. However, from the early 1990s onward; every cumann was entitled to three votes to selection conventions irrespective of its size. Another problem had arisen with the emergence of parallel organisations grouped around candidates or elected officials. Supporters and election workers for a particular candidate were loyal to a candidate and not to the party. If the candidate were to leave the party, through either resignation, retirement or defeat at an election, the candidate's supporters would depart. Although this phenomenon was nothing new it increased from the early 1990s in the Dublin Region with former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's "Drumcondra mafia" and the groups supporting Tom Kitt and Séamus Brennan in Dublin South that were separate from the official party structure. Since the 2007 election, the party's structure has weakened; this was in part exacerbated by significant infighting between candidates in the run-up to the 2011 general election.
The Irish Times estimated that half of its 3,000 cumainn were moribund. This fraction rose in Dublin with the exception of Dublin West, the former seat of both Brian Lenihan Snr and Brian Lenihan Jnr. Fianna Fáil is seen as a typical catch-all party. R. Ken Carty wrote of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael that they were'heterogeneous in their bases of support undifferentiated in terms of policy or programme, remarkably stable in their support levels'. Evidence from expert surveys, opinion polls and candidate surveys all fail to identify strong distinctions between the two parties. Many point to Ireland's Civil War politics, feel that the ba
Republic of Ireland
Ireland known as the Republic of Ireland, is a country in north-western Europe occupying 26 of 32 counties of the island of Ireland. The capital and largest city is Dublin, located on the eastern part of the island, whose metropolitan area is home to around a third of the country's over 4.8 million inhabitants. The sovereign state shares its only land border with a part of the United Kingdom, it is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the Celtic Sea to the south, St George's Channel to the south-east, the Irish Sea to the east. It is a parliamentary republic; the legislature, the Oireachtas, consists of a lower house, Dáil Éireann, an upper house, Seanad Éireann, an elected President who serves as the ceremonial head of state, but with some important powers and duties. The head of government is the Taoiseach, elected by the Dáil and appointed by the President; the state was created as the Irish Free State in 1922 as a result of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. It had the status of Dominion until 1937 when a new constitution was adopted, in which the state was named "Ireland" and became a republic, with an elected non-executive president as head of state.
It was declared a republic in 1949, following the Republic of Ireland Act 1948. Ireland became a member of the United Nations in December 1955, it joined the European Economic Community, the predecessor of the European Union, in 1973. The state had no formal relations with Northern Ireland for most of the twentieth century, but during the 1980s and 1990s the British and Irish governments worked with the Northern Ireland parties towards a resolution to "the Troubles". Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, the Irish government and Northern Ireland Executive have co-operated on a number of policy areas under the North-South Ministerial Council created by the Agreement. Ireland ranks among the top twenty-five wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita, as the tenth most prosperous country in the world according to The Legatum Prosperity Index 2015. After joining the EEC, Ireland enacted a series of liberal economic policies that resulted in rapid economic growth.
The country achieved considerable prosperity between the years of 1995 and 2007, which became known as the Celtic Tiger period. This was halted by an unprecedented financial crisis that began in 2008, in conjunction with the concurrent global economic crash. However, as the Irish economy was the fastest growing in the EU in 2015, Ireland is again ascending league tables comparing wealth and prosperity internationally. For example, in 2015, Ireland was ranked as the joint sixth most developed country in the world by the United Nations Human Development Index, it performs well in several national performance metrics, including freedom of the press, economic freedom and civil liberties. Ireland is a member of the European Union and is a founding member of the Council of Europe and the OECD; the Irish government has followed a policy of military neutrality through non-alignment since prior to World War II and the country is not a member of NATO, although it is a member of Partnership for Peace. The 1922 state, comprising 26 of the 32 counties of Ireland, was "styled and known as the Irish Free State".
The Constitution of Ireland, adopted in 1937, provides that "the name of the State is Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland". Section 2 of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948 states, "It is hereby declared that the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland." The 1948 Act does not name the state as "Republic of Ireland", because to have done so would have put it in conflict with the Constitution. The government of the United Kingdom used the name "Eire" and, from 1949, "Republic of Ireland", for the state; as well as "Ireland", "Éire" or "the Republic of Ireland", the state is referred to as "the Republic", "Southern Ireland" or "the South". In an Irish republican context it is referred to as "the Free State" or "the 26 Counties". From the Act of Union on 1 January 1801, until 6 December 1922, the island of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. During the Great Famine, from 1845 to 1849, the island's population of over 8 million fell by 30%. One million Irish died of starvation and/or disease and another 1.5 million emigrated to the United States.
This set the pattern of emigration for the century to come, resulting in constant population decline up to the 1960s. From 1874, under Charles Stewart Parnell from 1880, the Irish Parliamentary Party gained prominence; this was firstly through widespread agrarian agitation via the Irish Land League, that won land reforms for tenants in the form of the Irish Land Acts, secondly through its attempts to achieve Home Rule, via two unsuccessful bills which would have granted Ireland limited national autonomy. These led to "grass-roots" control of national affairs, under the Local Government Act 1898, in the hands of landlord-dominated grand juries of the Protestant Ascendancy. Home Rule seemed certain when the Parliament Act 1911 abolished the veto of the House of Lords, John Redmond secured the Third Home Rule Act in 1914. However, the Unionist movement had been growing since 1886 among Irish Protestants after the introduction of the first home rule bill, fearing discrimination and loss of economic and social privileges if Irish Catholics achieved real political power