Ireland is a continuing casualty of the world financial crisis that began during 2008 and is still impacting many parts of the world. In Ireland the government underwrote the six major banks to prevent their collapse. As a result just 4.5 million people were saddled with a debt of 5.5 billion U.S.
Bank liabilities were 309 per cent of GDP making it necessary for the EU and IMF to provide a rescue package of 109 billion. Only a couple of years before, Ireland was touted as an economic miracle, the Celtic Tiger. With low interest rates, rising property values, and lots of credit Ireland was supposed to show how unregulated markets led to wondrous results.
But it was all a magic bubble that eventually burst. The liabilities of banks were so huge their failure would bring down the economy according to most analysts. The government stepped in to prop them up. Now the debt is being paid for not by the banks whose reckless behavior caused the situation but the Irish people. They are paying in higher taxes, smaller pensions, and reduced spending for social security, education, and health.
The EU and IMF loans are offered only on condition that austerity measures are introduced including severe cuts to public spending.
In 2011 the ruling party was crushed due to the sour public mood. Once again the Irish are emigrating to other countries in search of work and a decent living. There is no end in sight as yet as the austerity measures impact negatively on the economy and unemployment increases. For more see this article. I have also appended a half hour documentary video on the Irish economy..