A Nation of Firsts
Ireland has a habit of creating history-making policy. From pioneering environmental practices to creating healthier workplaces, the following examples are world-first initiatives that have made Ireland a great place to live, visit and work.
History was made in March 2004 when Ireland became the first country in the world to introduce comprehensive legislation that banned smoking in the workplace. Cigarette sales fell by 60% in bars and figures state that 7,000 people stopped smoking in the first 12 months after the ban came into effect. A recent study indicated an estimated 4,000 lives had been saved by its introduction.
The First Country in the World to Introduce a Plastic Bag Levy
Ireland demonstrated its green credentials to the world when it became the first country to announce a tax on plastic bags in March 2002. The effect was immediate as usage went from 328 bags per capita to 21 bags per capita overnight. Supermarkets switched to more sustainable alternatives and the levy resulted in a decrease of more than 90% in the number of plastic bags in circulation.
The First Country in the World to Vote for Equal Marriage Rights
On Friday, 22 May 2015 Ireland said ‘I do’ and made world history by being the first country to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. The nation-wide referendum changed the Irish Constitution to extend civil marriage rights to everyone. The positive effect on the LGBT community in Ireland and the degree in which younger people became politically engaged is still felt throughout the country today.
The First Country in the World to Vote for a Divest from all Fossil Fuels
In an historic move, Ireland may become the world’s first country to fully divest from all fossil fuels. In January 2017, Ireland passed a first-of-its-kind fossil fuel divestment legislation with a majority vote. At this stage, the bill still must be signed into law after a review but if it passes, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund would have to eliminate all investments in fossil fuel companies over the next five years.