Ireland (Irish: Éire), also described as the Republic of Ireland (Poblacht na hÉireann), is a sovereign state in north-western Europe occupying 26 of 32 counties of the island of Ireland. The capital and largest city is Dublin, which is located on the eastern part of the island, and whose metropolitan area is home to around a third of the country's 4.75 million inhabitants. The state shares its only land border with Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom. It is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the Celtic Sea to the south, Saint George's Channel to the south-east, and the Irish Sea to the east. It is a unitary, parliamentary republic. The legislature, the Oireachtas, consists of a lower house, Dáil Éireann, an upper house, Seanad Éireann, and an elected President (Uachtarán) who serves as the largely ceremonial head of state, but with some important powers and duties. The head of government is the Taoiseach (Prime Minister, literally 'Chief', a title not used in English), who is elected by the Dáil and appointed by the President; the Taoiseach in turn appoints other government ministers.

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 effectively became a republic, with an elected non-executive president as head of state. It was officially 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 (EEC), 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.

The Irish Constitution describes Irish as the "national language", but English is the dominant language. In the 2006 census, 39% of the population regarded themselves as competent in Irish. Irish is spoken as a community language only in a small number of rural areas mostly in the west and south of the country, collectively known as the Gaeltacht. Except in Gaeltacht regions, road signs are usually bilingual. Most public notices and print media are in English only. While the state is officially bilingual, citizens can often struggle to access state services in Irish and most government publications are not available in both languages, even though citizens have the right to deal with the state in Irish. Irish language media include the TV channel TG4, the radio station RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta and online newspaper Tuairisc.ie. In the Irish Defence Forces, all foot and arms drill commands are given in the Irish language.

Ireland has a sufficiently developed legislation for the protection of minorities, from articles in the Constitution to laws on equal treatment and government regulations. On the other hand, there is practically no criminal legislation regarding hate crime.

The country has a number of institutions whose task is to protect minorities - the Commission on Human Rights and Equality, the Minister for Justice and Equality, the Tribunal for Equality in the Workplace, and the Police Department for Nationalities and Intercultural Diversity. However, police often negatively treat minorities, incorrectly identify incidents motivated by racism, and actively refuse to accept statements from victims of racism.

Formally, the titular nation and minorities have equal rights. In reality, we can note a number of cases of discrimination against minorities in the labour market, housing and access to social services.

Manifestations of hatred, including violent crimes against person, anti-immigrant and anti-Roma sentiments are quite strong in Ireland. At the same time, there are no neo-Nazi and right-wing political parties in the country, which means that this has not turned into a systemic nationwide problem.

Ireland has a developed migration legislation and a whole network of institutions involved in the reception and integration of migrants - the Department of Naturalisation and Immigration, the Admission and Integration Agency, the National Immigration Bureau of Immigration, the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration. Local authorities actively support integration programs. However, the system for asylum seekers, the so-called direct service, sparks severe criticism from human rights organisations and the refugees themselves. In some cases, protests have escalated into hunger strikes. There is a red tape in the system of asylum or temporary protection applications.

We can also paint a positive picture in terms of popular attitudes towards minorities, migrants and foreigners – with Ireland above average in its support for EU and non-EU migrants and welcoming of refugees after the 2015 Syria crisis. Furthermore, rhetoric by governing elites towards minorities has been on the whole supportive – with only some instances suggesting the presence of anti-migrant and anti-Semitic discourse.

In the Irish case, there does, however, exist some areas of concern that need to be noted. In particular, hardened and closed attitudes towards the traveller and Islamic communities in Ireland can be picked up from recent opinion polls – with many Irish citizens spurning relations with the former and harbouring suspicions about terrorist activity in the latter. Moreover, a lack of representation of minorities in the national Garda suggests significant barriers to diversity and a lack of confidence within minority communities – with many third party reports noting that minorities are reluctant to report suspected hate crimes to the police. Finally, recent UN reports have suggested ‘significant gaps’ in Ireland’s protection of human rights – particularly in relation to prisoner treatment, support for victims of people trafficking, and policing accountability.

In sum, then, while there is a lack of successfully organised right-wing radicalism in Ireland, there are some concerning trends – both at the elite and popular level – with regards to xenophobic prejudice. Government and third-party organisations should therefore actively focus their attention at combatting this xenophobia in public and political spaces as well as prejudice at a mass level.

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