Wednesday, 4th April 2012
The recent figures released by the Central Statistics Office relating to the data compiled from the census makes for interesting reading. Perhaps the most interesting figure that we now have is the fact that the population of Ireland is at its highest in 150 years. It has been commented on more than one occasion that we have been enjoying somewhat of a baby boom in the last number of years but the increase in population also has to do with the ever increasing numbers of people that have come into this country and made it their home. Although the CSO might give out the facts and figures that have been collated from the Census the real questions are what will the policy makers do with all of these numbers and how will they plan out the development of the country in the years to come. One of the most obvious elements is how the country will develop in light of population density. It is quite clear from the figures that there has been a disproportionate level of increase in population in the east of the country in Dublin and its surrounding counties. Obviously this means that an increasing amount of money will have to be spent on this area of the country. But where does that leave the rest of Ireland in terms of regional development. Many Governments, including this one, have spoken about the real need for proper regional development but if increasingly large numbers of people continue to settle in just one small part of the country then how can this happen? Will Dublin just siphon off more and more money while the rest of the country has to do with a decrease in spending on its services and infrastructures? While the release of the CSO figures show how certain long term trends are beginning to emerge within Ireland they also show how the country continues to develop very much along its own particular path.
For one, it shows that Ireland is still overwhelmingly a Roman Catholic country with a massive 84% of those questioned responding that they considered themselves as such. One thing this figure doesn't show though is the level of practice that those who consider themselves to be religious is. Also it has been put forward that the high number of Polish people who are now living here in Ireland might help account for the high figure as well. Irish people also have not turned away from marriage and having children inside of marriage even if they are doing it at an older age than they used to. Also for the first time the numbers of Civil Partnerships are included and make for very interesting reading. In the 1980's for example only 150 homosexual couples were included in figures as considering themselves as married. Fast forward almost 20 years and that figure rises to an unprecedented 4,000 couples. If ever there was an argument that marriage was under threat then the figures showing the huge numbers of gay and lesbian couples taking the plunge shows that the institution is very much alive and well. Of course all of these figures that have been released by the CSO are only some of the numbers that the census will throw up. The census is a very serious job and the fact that a number, albeit a very small number, of people were prosecuted for not completing the census shows just how seriously it is taken. It is out of the census that the Government, of whatever hue it might be, gets to plan ahead for the future of the country. Of course experience has shown us that not everything can be clearly forseen and that events always come along and throw things off track. But the fact remains that when it comes to looking at where our population is heading the figures supplied by the census are vital. They help in planning our infrastructure and services as well as showing where certain special services might be needed in the future. But they are after all just figures and its up to the people in power to interpret them and use them to our advantage. The recent talk about this census being our last ever census seems completely foolhardy. Census' might have been around since the time of Jesus but there is a rason for that and that is simply because they work.
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