U.S. Relations With Ireland

Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Fact Sheet
March 29, 2016

More information about Ireland is available on the Ireland Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


U.S. relations with Ireland have long been based on common ancestral ties and shared values, and emigration has been a foundation of the U.S.-Irish relationship. Besides regular dialogue on political and economic issues, the U.S. and Irish Governments have official exchanges in areas such as scientific research and education. With Ireland's membership in the European Union (EU), discussions of EU trade and economic policies as well as other aspects of EU policy have also become key elements in the U.S.-Irish relationship.

Irish citizens have continued a common practice of taking temporary residence overseas for work or study, mainly in the United States, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom (UK), and elsewhere in Europe. The U.S. J-1 visa Summer Work Travel program is a popular means for Irish youths to work temporarily in the United States. A high priority of the Irish government is the need to find a legal remedy for those Irish living out of status in the United States.

Regarding Northern Ireland, "Nationalist" and "Republican" groups seek a united Ireland that includes Northern Ireland, while "Unionists" and "Loyalists" want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom. It continues to be a U.S. priority to support the peace process and devolved political institutions in Northern Ireland, by encouraging the implementation of the U.S.-brokered 1998 Belfast Agreement, also known as the Good Friday Agreement, the 2006 St. Andrews Agreement, the 2014 Stormont House Agreement, and the 2015 Fresh Start Agreement.

U.S. Assistance to Ireland

The International Fund for Ireland (IFI), established by the British and Irish Governments in 1986, provides funding for projects to generate cross-community engagement and economic opportunity in Northern Ireland (the United Kingdom) and the border counties of Ireland. The U.S. government has contributed more than $541 million to the IFI since its establishment. Beyond the IFI, the United States remains committed to helping Northern Ireland build a strong society, vibrant economy, and enduring peace – through our continuing engagement, grants awarded through the U.S. Consulate General in Belfast, and initiatives launched by the Special Representative for Global Partnerships.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Economic and trade ties are an important facet of overall U.S.-Irish relations. The United States is Ireland’s top export destination; over 23 percent of all Irish goods exports go to the United States. The United States is also a major goods exporter to Ireland, ranking second only to the United Kingdom. U.S. goods exports to Ireland include pharmaceutical products, electrical components and equipment, computers and peripherals, aircraft, and optical/medical instruments. Irish goods exports to the United States include pharmaceutical products, organic chemicals, optical/medical instruments, and beverages U.S.-Irish trade in services is growing as well. U.S. services exports to Ireland include intellectual property licenses, research and development, and management consulting services. Major Irish services exports to the United States include insurance and information services.

U.S. investment has been particularly important to the growth and modernization of Irish industry over the past 25 years, providing new technology, export capabilities, management and manufacturing best practices, and employment opportunities. There are approximately 700 U.S.-owned firms operating in Ireland that employ roughly 170,000 people with activities that span from the manufacturing of high-tech electronics, computer products, medical supplies, and pharmaceuticals to retailing, banking, finance, and other services. Many high-tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter base their European operations in Ireland. In more recent years, Ireland has also become an important research and development center for U.S. firms in Europe.

Ireland's Membership in International Organizations

Ireland and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Ireland is also a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Partnership for Peace program.

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to Ireland is Kevin O’Malley; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Ireland maintains an embassy in the United States at 2234 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-462-3939). Ireland also maintains consulates general in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco.

More information about Ireland is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Ireland Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Ireland Page
U.S. Embassy: Ireland
USAID Ireland/Northern Ireland (U.K.) Page
History of U.S. Relations With Ireland
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Travel and Business Information