Stephen Ireland represented the Republic of Ireland at various youth levels before he made his debut for the senior team in 2006. He played for the Irish team at under-15, under-16, under-17, under-18 and under-21 levels. At the under-18 level, Stephen Ireland had a dispute with coach Brian Kerr after he was left out of the team for a game in his hometown of Cobh. He was told to watch the match from the stands. The game ended in a 4-0 defeat for his team. Afterwards, Kerr said Ireland will be involved in the next match in Cork City.
In January 2006, Brian Kerr was replaced as the Republic of Ireland manager with Steve Staunton appointed as his replacement. In the first game for Staunton, Stephen Ireland was called into the senior team setup for the first time. He was called up ahead of the game against Sweden and he came on as a substitute for John O’Shea during the game.
Stephen Ireland scored his first international goal some months into his senior international career. The goal arrived during the 5-2 defeat to Cyprus on October 7, 2006. On February 7, 2007, Ireland scored the winner as the Republic of Ireland beat San Marino 2-1. The winning goal against San Marino came in added time of second half.
Ireland scored his first goal in Croke Park against Wales for his third international goal in four matches. The Wales game was played on March 24, 2007. Around six months later, the midfielder scored against Slovakia in Bratislava for his fourth international goal. He finished his international career with four goals in six senior team games.