Ireland: Halting Steps Towards Local Democracy

John Loughlin

in The Oxford Handbook of Local and Regional Democracy in Europe

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199562978
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

Ireland: Halting Steps Towards Local Democracy

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  • Regional Political Studies
  • Comparative Politics


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Ireland used to form part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. After the campaign for Home Rule and the War of Independence, Ireland was partitioned and some of the northern part of the island remained with the UK while majority of the counties formed the Free State. In 1949, the Free State declared itself as a Republic and left the Commonwealth. This history of separating from the UK and gaining independence formed the institutions and political culture of modern Ireland. This article discusses the evolution of the Irish government, particularly local government, since its separation from the Commonwealth. Although Ireland came to form its own political culture, its political and administrative institutions have their origins from the time of British rule. The pattern of installing democracy and the role of the local government, and the defined areas of competence of the local area mirrors that of the typical British approach. Irish local government with its foundations from British local rule is relatively weak, financially incapacitated, and dominated by central government. The political culture of Ireland is dominated by a central government that acts as a principal and which uses the local government as an agent to implement its own policies and programmes with little input from the local government. In sum, the democratic dimension of Irish local government is overridden by its administrative dimension.

Keywords: Ireland; Home Rule; Free State; political culture; Irish government; Irish local government; political institutions; administrative institutions; democracy; local government

Article.  7460 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Regional Political Studies ; Comparative Politics

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