Ease of Doing Business Rank: 24
Ireland is a European country consisting of a main island and many islets west of England, Scotland, and Wales. Iceland lies to the north, Spain and Portugal to the south and the North Atlantic Ocean to the west.
Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. The Republic of Ireland in the south is an independent country.
English is the predominant language in the Republic of Ireland (99%), but both English and Irish are official languages. Approximately 36% of the population speaks Irish and a small percentage speaks Scots (0.3%).
The 2019 population of the Republic of Ireland is approximately 4.85 million.
The majority of residents live in large urban centers along the coast. The largest cities are Dublin (1.17 million) and Cork (208,669). The remaining cities are all under 100,000.
The top industries in the Republic of Ireland are high-tech, life sciences, financial services, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, computer hardware and software, food products, beverages and brewing and medical devices.
The Times Higher Education World Rankings ranks nine Irish universities in the top 1,000 in the world.
The Legatum Prosperity Index ranks Ireland’s education system 6th out of 149.
The most common type of business entities in Ireland are private company limited by shares, designated activity company limited by shares, designated activity company limited by guarantee, company limited by guarantee and public limited company.
The most common form of business entity in Ireland is a private company.
Ireland offers many incentives for foreign business. These include a 12.5% corporate tax rate and an additional 25% credit on approved R&D expenditures.
Another R&D tax credit is available for the construction or refurbishment of an R&D building used for qualifying R&D activities, including sub-contracted work. Unused credits may be carried back to the previous tax year or monetized over three years. In some cases, companies can use the credit to reward key employees to reduce their effective tax rate to 23%.
Ireland also offers a tax reduction for capital expenditures for the acquisition of qualifying IP assets for trade, such as patents and registered designs, trademarks and brand names, know-how, domain names, copyrights, service marks, and publishing titles, authorizations, and more.
Ireland’s Knowledge Development Box provides a 6.25% corporate tax rate to certain profits arising from qualifying R&D, which adhere to OECD’s standards.
Ireland also offers favorable tax rates for special purpose Section 110 companies. These companies may benefit from an onshore investment platform with access to Ireland’s Double Taxation Treaty network which can severely reduce or eliminate corporate tax.
As well, Section 110 companies can invest in financial assets such as shares, loans, leases, lease portfolios, bonds, debt, derivatives, greenhouse gas emissions allowances, carbon offsets, commodities, and plant and machinery.
The Republic of Ireland also offers cash grants to qualifying companies for capital expenditures on machinery and equipment and industrial premises, employee training, job creation, rent subsidies, R&D, manufacturing and exporting products, providing services to customers overseas, and more. Grant amounts depend on the industry and region.
Ireland also offers several foreign tax credits, including a unilateral form of credit relief for foreign taxes paid by foreign branches operating in countries with which Ireland does not have a tax treaty.
Some dividends may also qualify for an additional tax credit up to the amount of Irish tax due.
Cork and Dublin are the main business areas in Ireland. Dublin is the capital city and principal economic hub.
Ireland has a long history and plenty of spectacular coast line. However, most people start their visit in the capital city of Dublin since it has so much to offer.
Visit at least a few of the historic and cultural sites such as Dublin Castle, Trinity College, St. Stephen’s Green, Kilmainham Gaol and more. Don’t forget to take in the Guinness Storehouse with 7 floors of interactive exhibits and a chance to sample a pint while enjoying city views.
Undoubtedly, one of Ireland’s most visited attractions in the medieval Blarney Castle outside of Cork. If you kiss the stone it is thought you will gain the “gift of gab.”
Blarney Castle is just one of hundreds of castles that dot the landscape. Some of the biggest are King John’s, Kilkenny, Cahir, Ashford, Rock of Cashel, and Bunratty.
The town of Cobh was the final port of call for the RMS Titanic before it set out across the Atlantic on its maiden voyage. It features a Titanic Experience exhibition, the neo-Gothic Cathedral Church of St Colman, and rows of colorful homes.
On the coast, you’ll find the towering Cliffs of Moher. They are a UNESCO Global Geopark in County Clare and rise 700 feet above sea level at their highest point. The road winds along the Atlantic coast for a stunning, picturesque trip.
Alternatively, take a trip along the Wild Atlantic Way. It spans 2,500 km along 5 sections of the coast from Donegal to Cork. With over 150 discovery points and more than 1,000 tourist attractions visitors are sure to find something of interest.
While in the Republic of Ireland, you can’t ignore what Northern Ireland has to offer. The Giant’s Causeway features over 40,000 basalt columns formed due to volcanic and geological activity. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and visited by millions annually.
Belfast also has an excellent interactive maritime heritage exhibit called the Titanic Belfast. It relates the stories of the RMS Titanic over 130,000 square feet of exhibition space.
Settlers lived in the region for millennia before the arrival of the Celts in the 6th century BC. They laid the foundation for Irish arts, culture, and language.
Christianity reached Ireland in the 5th century AD. The region was largely agrarian without urban centers. Christian monasteries became the focus of activity and changed social and political life. Irish arts and crafts flourished and illustrated manuscripts painstakingly crafted by monks spread the Christian faith across the land.
Vikings attacked the region from 795 AD onward. They targeted the wealthy monasteries, eventually into extinction. The Vikings established trading outposts which eventually became some of Ireland’s most notable towns and cities such as Cork, Limerick, and Dublin.
By the 12th century, Anglo-Norman mercenaries invaded Ireland from England. An ousted Irish king hoped to regain his territory. However, King Henry II of England took control of his Norman subjects and the Pope declared him Feudal Lord of Ireland.
Normans settled in the area. However, England was indifferent to the territory. By the end of the 15th century English rule had weakened and only a small enclave around Dublin remained a stronghold.
By the 16th century, English Tudor monarchs sought to regain control. Henry VIII declared himself King of Ireland and he and his successors established English settlements throughout the area after a series of battles. By 1601, the English had conquered Ireland and continually tried to impose Protestantism on the Irish.
The Catholic Irish rebelled in 1641, but the coup failed. This led to the Irish Confederate Wars. These wars continued until the 1650s, when Oliver Cromwell decisively defeated the usurpers and re-conquered the country.
Cromwell seized large tracts of fertile Catholic land and redistributed it amongst his soldiers and Scottish colonists. Later, laws against Catholics prohibited them from voting, education and the military. Catholics also had to pay tithes to Protestant clergy.
Tension grew between English rulers and the Irish. Another rebellion occurred in 1798, which led to the abolishment of the Irish Parliament. Ireland officially became part of the United Kingdom.
Ireland suffered greatly during the Great Famine between 1845 and 1852. Almost a quarter of the population died due to starvation, disease and poor British economic policies. Mass emigration during the following decades decimated the population further and practically extinguished the Irish language.
Multiple rebellions and growing discontent with British rule continued into the late 19th century. Finally, in 1914 British Parliament passed the Home Rule Bill intended to grant the right to self-government to Ireland. However, World War I broke out.
In 1916, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army staged the Easter Rebellion in Dublin, and proclaimed Ireland’s independence. Initially, the population did not support the rebellion. However, when the British executed several Irish leaders public opinion changed.
In 1918, the pro-independence Sinn Féin party won a landslide victory during the election. In defiance, they did not take their seats in the British Parliament. Instead, they set up an independent parliament in Dublin. This led to the War of Independence between 1919 and 1921.
The Anglo-Irish Treaty ended the conflict and divided the region into the independent Irish Free State of 26 counties and Northern Ireland with six counties, which remained part of the United Kingdom. A civil war ensued between 1921 and 1923 and firmly divided political parties.
The Irish Free State became a Republic in 1949 which finally severed all links to Britain. They are now a member of the UN and the European Union with an open economy.
According to the 2016 census, the majority of residents are Catholic (78.8%). A further 10.1% did not affiliate with a religion.
Church of Ireland adherents make up 2.6%, followed by Orthodox Christianity (1.3%), Islam (1.3%), Presbyterian (0.5%), Hindu (0.3%), Apostolic or Pentecostal (0.3%), and others or not stated (4.8%).
According to 2016 Irish Statistics Office data, 82.2% consider themselves Irish, 0.7% Irish travelers, 9.5% other white, 2.1% Asian, 1.4% black, 1.5% other and 2.6% unspecified.
According to Forbes’ 2019 Best Countries for Business, Ireland is the 11th best country in the world for conducting business.
The 2019 Index of Economic Freedom rates Ireland 6th globally and states, “…low corporate taxes and a talented high-technology labor pool attract foreign multinationals, and Ireland’s strong economic fundamentals are undergirded by solid protection of property rights and an independent judiciary that safeguards the rule of law..”
World Bank’s “Doing Business” rankings rate Ireland 23rd for ease of doing business in the world.