Island Life- Population change on islands in the Western Region

If you fancy island living there are 55 inhabited islands in the Western Region, although current freezing temperatures, recent storms and plenty of rainfall mean you will have to be tough!

You can choose from lonely isolation to relative crowds with populations on Western Region islands ranging from 1 person (on 9 islands) to 2,440 on Achill (Acaill) Co Mayo, the most populated of Ireland’s islands.  Most of the populated coastal islands in the State are in the Western Region (55 of 82 listed by the CSO for Census 2016) and 80% of island dwellers are on Western Region islands

At the time of the 2016 census, 6,985 people in the Western Region lived on islands, a decline of 5.9% since 2011.  This compares to a 6.2% increase in the population of islands elsewhere in Ireland.  It should be noted, however that in both the Western Region and elsewhere, there was significant variation in population change on different islands, some with population increases and some with decreases.  In this analysis I have grouped the islands into different categories so that the tables are shorter and key characteristics can be highlighted.

The figures discussed here are the de facto populations, i.e. the population recorded for each island is the total of all persons present on the Census night.  While there would be expected to be some difference in the de facto population and the resident population[1], on Western Region islands there were none with very significant differences (some islands elsewhere did have large differences).

Islands with a population of more than 50 people

There 16 coastal islands in the Western Region with a population of more than 50 people in 2016.  However, the population of the five largest of these inhabited islands decreased between 2016 and indeed of the islands in the Western Region with a population of more than 50 (16 in 2016), only 3 showed population increases (Inis Oirr, Galway (12.9%); Inis Meain, Galway (16.6%) and Inishbofin, Galway (9.4%))- see Table 1 below.  The population of Achill fell by 5% and on Inis Mór, Galway the population fell by nearly 10% while on Árainn Mhór (Arranmore, Donegal) the population fell by 9%.  Toraigh (Tory island, Donegal) had a population loss of more than 17% while the population of  Eanach Mheáin (Annaghvaan, Galway) fell by more than a quarter. The biggest percentage population decline in this category was on An Chruit (Cruit), Donegal) which had a population fall of almost 30%, some 25 people).

Table 1: Islands in the Western Region with a population of more than 50 in 2016

Source: CSO, Census of Population 2016, E2021 Population of Inhabited Islands Off the Coast 2011 to 2016 by Islands, CensusYear and Sex

Islands with a population of between 10 and 50 people

There are eight islands in the Western Region with population of between 10 and 50 people, and again the majority of these showed population decreases (Table 2 below).  The most significant population fall (28%) was on Inis Bigil, Co Mayo (from 25 in 2011 to 18 in 2016), while the only increase was on An Ros, in Galway which grew by 10%, adding 2 more to its population..

Table 2: Islands in the Western Region with a population of between 10 and 50 people in 2016

Source: CSO, Census of Population 2016, E2021 Population of Inhabited Islands Off the Coast 2011 to 2016 by Islands, CensusYear and Sex

Islands with fewer than 10 inhabitants (but which were inhabited in 2011)

Among the smallest of the inhabited islands (fewer than 10 people, and which were inhabited in both 2011 and 2016) there were some very important changes and which are of significance for islands with these small populations.  These are shown in Table 3 below.  For example, the population of Gabhla, Donegal fell by 67% from 15 to 5, and the population of Inis Bó Finne, Donegal fell from 11 people to 2 people (-81%), while Inishturk Beg, Mayo fell from 10 people to 2 people (-80%).  The most significant growth in this category was on Inis Mhic an Doirn, Donegal where population grew from 1 person to 5 people.

Table 3: Islands in the Western Region with a population of between 1 and 10 people in 2016 and which were inhabited in both 2011 and 2016

Source: CSO, Census of Population 2016, E2021 Population of Inhabited Islands Off the Coast 2011 to 2016 by Islands, CensusYear and Sex

Islands which were not inhabited in 2011 but had inhabitants in 2016

There were also ten islands in the Western Region which had no population in 2011 and were populated in 2016.  The most significant of these was Oileán Uaighe (Owey), Co. Donegal which gained six people.  On 6 of the islands which were not inhabited in 2011, the population in 2016 was just one person.

Table 4 Islands which had no population in 2011 and are now inhabited

Source: CSO, Census of Population 2016, E2021 Population of Inhabited Islands Off the Coast 2011 to 2016 by Islands, CensusYear and Sex

Islands which were inhabited in 2011 but were uninhabited in 2016

In the final category, there are 6 islands which were inhabited in 2011 and which were uninhabited at Census 2016 (Table 5 below).  The most significant population losses in this category were on Inis Meáin, Donegal (7 people in 2011 and no inhabitants in 2016) and on Inishcottle, Co Mayo, 5 inhabitants in 2011 and none in 2016.

Table 5: Islands which had population in 2011 and were uninhabited in 2016

Source: CSO, Census of Population 2016, E2021 Population of Inhabited Islands Off the Coast 2011 to 2016 by Islands, CensusYear and Sex

Conclusion

Finally, it is very important to note that this data from the Census of Population refers to a snapshot of population in time (2011 and 2016 in this analysis) and for some of the smaller islands in particular, there can be varied explanations for population changes and population can fluctuate unexpectedly.  It is always important, therefore, when considering the population of the islands to understand the causes of the changes.  It is also essential to be cautious when referring to percentage changes where populations are very small.

_________________________

[1] Information about de facto and resident populations was provided by the CSO.  I am grateful for their helpful response to this and other queries.

Helen McHenry

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County labour markets in the Western Region: what’s happening?

Last week, the WDC published eight new WDC Insights publications.  Each of these two-page publications examines the labour market of a Western Region county, with Galway City and County examined separately. The analysis is based on data from Census 2016.

Each of the WDC Insights outlines the Principal Economic Status and Labour Force status of the county’s adult population (15+ yrs), compared with the state average, as well as the sectors where the county’s residents work and how this has changed since 2011.

In this blog post, I’ll focus on Principal Economic and Labour Force Status. A future blog post will examine the sectoral pattern of employment.  Below is a summary of the Principal Economic Status of the adult population of each of the western counties.  Scroll down to find your county!

1.  Clare

Clare had a total population of 118,817 in 2016 – 7.1% higher than a decade earlier. The county has a labour force of 56,529 or 60% of its adult population. The labour force includes both the number of people at work and those looking for work. This figure is up 0.7% on the previous Census, compared with 3.2% growth nationally.The number of persons at work, at 49,511, represents 53.1% of the adult population, compared to a state average of 53.4%. Total employment in the county grew 8.6% between 2011 and 2016, lower than the national average of 11%. The share of self-employed in Clare is far higher than the national average, 10.4% compared with 8.3%.  Given the county’s location between two large cities, commuting is an important factor. Almost 10,000 or one in five workers are travelling outside of the county for work. The figures do not include the 5,636 people who travel into Clare from elsewhere for work.

At 7,018, the 7.5% share of the county’s adults who are unemployed is slightly lower than the national average of 7.9%.  Of the 40% of Clare’s adults who are outside the labour force, those who are retired are the largest group at 16.1%, which is higher than the national average. Clare has a lower than average share of its population unable to work due to disability and illness and a lower share of students and pupils.

2.  Donegal

Donegal had a total population of 159,192 in 2016 – 8.1% higher than a decade earlier.  However, the county’s population has dropped by 1.2% compared to the last Census (2011) – one of only two counties nationally where population declined. The other is Mayo.The county has a labour force of 71,182, down 1.3% on 2011, compared with a 3.2% growth nationally.  Donegal is one of just six counties where the labour force shrank in the past five years. Other counties in the Western Region where the labour force shrank include Roscommon, Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim.  Outside of the Western Region, only Tipperary also had a decline.

The number of Donegal residents at work is 58,353, representing 47% of the adult population compared to a state average of 53.4%.  Total employment in Donegal grew 9.5% between 2011 and 2016 – below the 11% national average.  Commuting — including across the border — is an important factor and 10% of those employed commute outside of the county.

At 12,829, the 10.3% share of the county’s adults who are unemployed is the second highest in the state (after Longford), and considerably above the national average (7.9%).  The share of Donegal’s adults who are outside the labour force (42.7%) is substantially above the national average of 38.1%. The number of ‘retired’ among these is also considerably above the national average at 18% compared with 14.5%.  The county also has a higher share unable to work due to disability and illness, but its share of students and pupils is below the national average, despite the presence of a third-level institution.

3.  Galway City

Galway City had a total population of 78,668 in 2016, up 8.6% on a decade earlier.  It had a labour force of 40,126, 61.3% of its adult population.  This figure is up 3.4% on the previous Census compared with a 3.2% growth nationally.The number of City residents at work is 34,951 (53.4% of its adult population) which is the same as the national share.  Total employment in Galway City grew 10.8% between 2011 and 2016, on a par with national growth.  At 5,175, the 7.9% of adults who are unemployed in the City is similar to the national average.

Of those adults outside the labour force, Galway City is the only local authority area in the Western Region where students, not retirees, form the largest group (17.1%). The figures relate to the resident population of the City, so those living elsewhere but commuting into the City for work are not counted here but those living in the City but working outside of it are.

4.  Galway County

Galway County had a total population of 179,390 in 2016 12.6% higher than a decade ago.  It had a labour force of 85,054, 61.3% of its adult population – the same share as Galway City. Galway County’s labour force is up 0.6% since 2011; this compared with a 3.2% growth nationally.The number of Galway County residents at work is 75,116 (54.1% of all adults) compared to a national average of 53.4%. Total employment grew by 8.5% between 2011 and 2016 compared with the national average of 11%.  The figures relate to the resident population of Galway County, so those living in the County but commuting into the City for work are included in the figures but those commuting to work in Galway County are not included.

At 9,938, the 7.2% of Galway County residents who are unemployed is slightly lower than the national average.  Of those adults outside the labour force, retired is the largest group at 14.8% just slightly above the national average.

5.  Leitrim

Leitrim had a total population of 32,044 in 2016 —10.7% higher than a decade earlier.  It has a labour force of 14,891 or 59.3% of the adult population.  This figure is down 0.9% on the previous Census, compared with 3.2% growth nationally.  Leitrim is one of just six counties in the state where the labour force shrank.The number of persons at work, at 12,728, represents 50.7% of the adult population compared to a state average of 53.4%.  Total employment in the county grew 6.3% between 2011 and 2016 — compared to the national average of 11%.   The county’s labour force differs most strongly from the national pattern in self-employment with Leitrim having a far higher share — 10.3% compared with 8.3%.

One out of every three workers living in County Leitrim are reliant on employment outside of the county.  Of the 12,728 working Leitrim residents, 4,210 travel outside of the county to their place of employment. The figures do not include 2,184 people who travel into Leitrim from elsewhere for work.

At 2,163, the 8.6% share of the county’s adults who are unemployed is above the 7.9% national average.  Of the 40.7% of Leitrim’s adults who are outside the labour force, those who are retired are the largest group at 18.1%, higher than the national average of 14.5%.  Leitrim has a higher-than-average share of its population unable to work due to disability and illness and a lower share of students and pupils.

6.  Mayo

Mayo had a total population of 130,507 in 2016, down 0.1% on 2011 figures.  Mayo and Donegal are the only two counties nationally where the population declined.  Mayo had a labour force of 60,030 or 57.7% of its adult population. This figure is notably below the national average of 61.9% and represents a decline of 1.5% on the previous Census, compared with 3.2% growth nationally.  Mayo is one of only six counties where the labour force shrank.The number of persons at work, at 51,439, represents 49.5% of the adult population, compared to a state average of 53.4%.  Employment in Mayo grew by just 4.8% in the past five years — the second lowest growth in the state (after Sligo) and below the national average of 11%.  Commuting is an important factor with more people commuting outside the county to work than those travelling to work in Mayo.  Almost 10% of those employed commutes outside of the county for work.

At 8,591, the 8.3% share of the county’s adults who are unemployed is higher than the national average of 7.9%.  The number of retired in Mayo is the highest in the state, accounting for 19.3% of all adults compared to a national average of 14.5%.

7.  Roscommon

Roscommon had a total population of 64,544 in 2016 – 9.8% higher than a decade earlier.  The county has a labour force of 29,666 or 60% of its adult population. The labour force includes both the number of people at work and those looking for work.  This figure is down 1.9% on the previous Census, compared with 3.2% growth nationally. Roscommon is one of just six counties in the state where the labour force declined.The number of persons at work, at 25,819, represents 50.7% of the adult population, compared to a state average of 53.4%.  Total employment in Roscommon grew 5.9% between 2011 and 2016 – significantly lower than the national average of 11%.  Commuting is an important factor with 9,220 people who live in Roscommon travelling outside the county to work.  The 3,847 people who live outside Roscommon but travel into the county for work are not counted here.

At 3,847, the 7.6% share of the county’s adults who are unemployed is slightly lower than the national average of 7.9%.  Reflecting Roscommon’s older age profile, at 17.2% the share of adults who are retired makes up the largest group outside of the labour force, compared to a state average of 14.5%.

8.  Sligo

Sligo had a total population of 65,535 in 2016 – 7.6% higher than a decade earlier.  The county has a labour force of 30,252 or 57.9% of its adult population. This is notably lower than the national average of 61.9%. The labour force includes both the number of people at work and those looking for work. The Sligo figure is down 2.6% on the previous Census, compared with 3.2% growth nationally. It is one of just six counties in the state where the labour force fell.Just under half (49.8%) of Sligo’s adults are ‘at work’ — below the 53.4% national average. Sligo has suffered the lowest employment growth of any county in the past five years. Total employment grew by just 2.2% between 2011 and 2016, significantly below the 11% national growth and the lowest of any county in the state. Sligo has a somewhat higher share of self-employed – 9% compared with the national average of 8.3%.

These figures count the resident population of the county. But Sligo has a positive balance when it comes to commuting with more people travelling into the county to work (3,730) than travel out of it (3,203). Those who come into the county for work are not counted here but those who commute out of Sligo are.

Sligo’s share of unemployed is close to the national average. People who are retired form the largest group among those outside the labour force and at 17.7% of the adult population, their share is considerably higher than the average of 14.5%, reflecting the county’s older age profile.  Sligo also has a higher share of people unable to work due to disability or illness as well as a higher share of students and pupils, influenced by the location of IT Sligo and St Angela’s College in the county.

All eight WDC Insights can be downloaded here

Pauline White

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WDC submission to Ireland 2040-Our Plan, the Draft National Planning Framework

Below is a summary of the key comments contained in the Western Development Commission (WDC) submission on Ireland 2040-Our Plan, the Draft National Planning Framework, the closing date for submissions is today Friday 10th November.

In general, the WDC would have hoped for a more focused document with clearer commitments although the WDC strongly supports a strategy to drive a better spatial balance of economic activity across Ireland.

Particular areas of concern for the WDC are:

  • The WDC welcomes the inclusion of regional targets but considers there is very little in Ireland 2040-Our Plan which can help to deliver on targets either for the Northern and Western region or that will move Ireland beyond the ‘business as usual’ scenario.
  • The focus of Ireland 2040-Our Plan is on city led development in the five named cities. As there is no city in the north west the strategic development needs of the area, including Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Leitrim, and Roscommon, are not envisaged or prioritised.  An urban centre such as Sligo should be identified and resourced to drive the development of the wider region.
  • Ireland 2040-Our Plan has seventy ‘National Policy Objectives’ but little detail on how many of the seventy will be implemented. Despite these National Policy Objectives, the Ireland 2040-Our Plan is quite general and aspirational and the real detail is only in the target population growth and jobs growth and in details of planning mechanisms.
  • Ireland 2040-Our Plan does not address the stated need for enhanced regional accessibility for the north west. Accessibility is only referred to in the context of ‘incremental improvement’ and ‘only after compact growth in urban areas’ is achieved.
  • In relation to Ireland and Northern Ireland, too much priority is given to the development of the Dublin-Belfast corridor compared with the important and significant cross border interactions in the Derry/Letterkenny North West City Region.
  • There is a serious definitional issue with ‘rural’ as areas as outside towns with a population of 10,000. This covers 80% of the population in the Western Region and 50% nationally.  These are very significant proportions of the population and their needs should be addressed clearly and specifically.
  • Under discussion of rural infrastructure there is no mention of transport (public transport, regional and local roads), or connection to primary and secondary roads, air access, rail or energy infrastructure for residents or enterprises in these locations.
  • Much responsibility has been passed to RSESs and the NWRA has most challenging population growth target to meet. Beyond the five cities, it is suggested the RSESs will cover the broader regions and rural areas, without clarity about what will be committed for the regions, resourcing the RSESs and how they will ensure policy aligns with them.
  • While Ireland 2040-Our Plan gives some indication of how the NPF will be implemented (mainly in terms of planning and capital investment, although the detail of that is not yet available) there is little reference to how ‘sectoral’ policy will be aligned with the NPF. There needs to be a clear implementation and monitoring structure put in place to ensure sectoral policies are aligned with the NPF, beyond that for capital investment and planning.
  • Where conventional evaluation and appraisal techniques, like cost benefits analysis (CBA) methods are used to determine investment priorities, this ultimately supports ‘business as usual’ outcomes. Therefore a change to the conventional appraisal and evaluation methodologies used is needed in order to determine what projects become priorities.
  • There is excessive focus in Ireland 2040-Our Plan on attracting international companies and insufficient consideration of indigenous sector, SMEs, micro-enterprises and sole traders. Similarly the focus on growing demand for a highly skilled workforce does not acknowledge the concurrent growth of low skill, low paid employment, meaning it fails to recognise the needs of this group.
  • Employment growth in urban areas beyond the cities is very much presented as an afterthought and primarily for ‘accessible towns’ with a large catchment. What is the role or future for towns that do not meet these criteria? The NPF must address all types of spatial areas especially those areas that face greater challenges and therefore require greater public intervention, as private sector led development will be attracted to the stronger centres.
  • There is a lack of clarity on the relationship between, and priority given, to the ‘Metropolitan Area Strategic Plans’ and the ‘Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies’. It is not clear if the MASPs are to be developed subsequent to the RSESs, implementing the RSES at the metro level, or if they are to be developed concurrently.
  • Though the role of third level education in supporting regional development is acknowledged, along with the development potential of Technological Universities, the only facility mentioned is Grangeorman in Dublin. The Institutes of Technology in the west and north and proposed Technological University there are important drivers and need to be named as such.
  • There is a very significant focus on city led development but little explanation of how this will give rise to broader regional development. Given the timeline for publication of the NPF and the 10-year National Investment Plan, failure to designate any urban centres other than the five cities in the NPF means that regionally important large towns are unlikely to be prioritised for investment.
  • Ireland 2040-Our Plan is based on one projection of future population and jobs growth which is presented as a certainty and given the time period to 2040, the certainty of projections is very limited. The NPF strategy should not be based on a single projection, but should include a number of possible scenarios for future low, medium and high growth There is no detail provided on the of the assumptions underpinning the ESRI’s projections.

Deirdre Frost

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NPF and Rethinking Irish Economic Development

For all of us interested in the future of Ireland and its economic and social development, the preparation of the National Planning Framework is an important exercise.  The Final draft will be prepared in the next few months following a period of consultation on the Draft NPF.

The closing date for submissions on the Draft NPF has now been extended until 12 Noon on Friday 10th November 2017. See the Share Your Views page for details on how to make your submission.

There is a short window for further input and consultation.  A policy forum in UCC this Friday 3rd November, entitled Re-thinking Irish Economic Development, will provide a useful forum in which to identify improvements on the current Draft NPF. How do we prepare for an increasing population in a balanced and coherent way and move away from the ‘business as usual’ approach to economic development, all aspirations contained in the current Draft NPF.

The presenters are leading Irish-based researchers in the area of Irish economic development. The forum is targeted at policymakers working on Irish economic development at the national, regional and local levels and/or on Ireland’s indigenous and foreign-owned sectors. The focus is on bridging the gap between internationally recognized evidence-based research and policy-making aimed at building a sustainable future for Ireland.

Please visit the UCC Policy forum page for more information.

 

Deirdre Frost

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Regional implications of BREXIT- some thoughts

There has been much discussion of Brexit and what it will mean for Ireland, for businesses here, for different sectors, and for social and cultural interactions.  The discussion is, of course, taking place in the context of multiple unknowns.  We don’t know if there will be a hard or soft Brexit, how the movement of people will be affected, what charges might be levied on goods crossing the border, or the kinds of goods which could be affected.  Thus nothing can be said definitively about Brexit and how it will impact on the region and communities most affected by the border.

However, despite the lack of information and lack of certainty, it is still important to consider possible implications and to look at data that could give us a better understanding of what might occur and what policy might be needed to mitigate or address the issues that could arise from Brexit.

The issue of Brexit and some of the potential regional issues were discussed at the Association of Irish Local Government www.ailg.ie/ seminar in Sligo on 12 October and a full presentation made to the elected members of local government at the seminar is available here to publication uploaded.  It provides more detail on some of the issues discussed but, as with all Brexit discussion, it is speculative and because the potential implications of Brexit are so wide ranging it is inevitably only a partial discussion of some possible aspects.

In focusing particularly on regional issues which might arise there are issues which are of particular importance to people living in border regions and to the communities which are in addition to the potentially very significant economic implications of Brexit.  These include

  • Cross border infrastructure
  • Cross border service provision
  • Commuting
  • Local business supply chains
  • Retail and cross border purchasing
  • Day to day social interactions.

The focus of this post is largely on some of the data available on commuting and other cross border interactions, but some other less discussed issues are mentioned briefly and some of the areas where more information would be of benefit are outlined.  For the most part in this post ‘cross border’ refers to interactions between Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (ROI).

The Border: Some facts on the Common Travel Area

The border between the Republic and Northern Ireland is twisty and long though enclosing a relatively small area and, in recent decades, it has been virtually invisible with crossings being made on all roads of all kinds from national primary routes to tiny lanes and tracks.  It is over 480 km and has about 275 border crossings (the exact number depends on how many small lanes are included in the count).  This compares to the 6,000km long border to the East of the EU which has only 137 border crossings.  Indeed there are 11 crossings on an 850 km border between Poland and Ukraine, and only 13 official border crossings between Finland and Russia (1,340 km).  Thus implementation of any border and customs checks on the island of Ireland will be complex.

Looking at the common travel area and the number of interactions[1] really highlights the challenges and implications of whatever is the final Brexit agreement.  Annually there are about 110 million border crossings made by people between Ireland and Northern Ireland, with most of these by private vehicle.  There are about 0.9m crossings by rail.  On the 15 principal crossing points where the numbers crossing are recorded, there are 43 million recorded vehicle crossings annually, and of course, as noted above there are many (about 260) other crossings.  Indeed the road network means than people travelling from place to place in the ROI, or place to place in NI may make multiple crossing in the course of their journey.

Between Ireland and Great Britain there are annually about 15.4 million crossings of which 12.7 million are made by air and 2.7 million made by ferry.  The main reason for these is to visit friends and family, with holidays and then business trips next most important.

Commuting

There is a very significant level of commuting, largely for work but also for education, occurring across the border.  This is illustrated in the map (Fig. 1) below which is derived for the CSO Census of Population 2016.

Figure 1: Commuting: origin and destinations of cross border workers and students- Census 2016

CSO, 2017, Census of Population, Profile 6 Commuting in Ireland

Parts of Donegal show very high levels of commuting and indeed along the border it is a common practice, but it extends further into the rest of Ireland too.

It should be noted this is people commuting from ROI into NI.  The 2011 Census for Northern Ireland estimates that 14,800 people commute cross border for work and study (footnote 1).

Table 1 provides information about the main origin and destinations of cross border commuters.  Those commuting from Donegal to Derry account for 46% of the commuting and Donegal commuters into NI are more than half (60%) of those commuting into NI.

Table 1: Commuting: Top six origin and destination of cross border workers and students

CSO, 2017, Census of Population, Profile 6 Commuting in Ireland

In addition to the significant cross border commuting for employment into NI a total of 3,531 people stated on the 2016 Census form that their place of work was outside the island of Ireland.   The most popular overseas working destination was Great Britain; 2,144 commuted to England, Scotland and Wales.

Commuting for Education

Table 1 above includes people commuting for both work and education, and while the numbers commuting to school and college are relatively small, they are significant in certain communities.  These are children whose education could be affected by changes arising from Brexit.  Some 693[2] primary school pupils (aged 5-12) are travelling into NI each day for school and 707 secondary school pupils (aged 13-18).  Finally there are 899 students commuting daily to school and college (over 19 years).  This figure does not include those from the ROI who live in NI while studying at third level.

Potential Issues

There are clearly some potential implications for those who are commuting across the border which depend, of course, on the type of border and the checks which might be put in place at crossings.  The time taken to commute may increase to take account of border changes; an element of unpredictability as to how on the  trips will take could be introduced; and there could be potential delays at border crossings and difficulties for those connecting between parts of Ireland (Donegal to Dublin for example) with visas to work in ROI and are travelling across NI.

Already with the currency impacts of the Brexit decisions there are implications for the take home pay in local currency which can in turn influence where people spend their wages and salaries and do their shopping.

Other concerns

The discussion above has highlighted some of the cross border interactions for employment and education which are currently happening but there are of course other cross border interactions which will be affected.

Supply chains

There are many businesses with cross border supply chains, some of which can be very complex involving raw materials and product crossing the border a number of times at different stages of the production process.  Manufacturers and dairy processors could be particularly affected by this, but unfortunately there is limited data available at present on the full supply chain implication of various Brexit options.  There is likely to be a significant effect on those companies which have supply chains which have developed across the border and for the people working in those enterprises who may also be among the cross border commuters discussed above.

Infrastructure

There is also the issue of cross border infrastructure and how Brexit might affect investment and development of critical infrastructure in the Region and in the North West in particular.  This is a huge area which is only touched on very briefly here.

Changes arising from Brexit will have implications for road investment.  There are national routes (A routes in NI, N routes in ROI) which require significant investment and which have very important implications for connectivity and accessibility in the region across the border and connecting Donegal to the rest of the ROI.  It is not clear if cross border investment in infrastructure (e.g. ROI funding for development of roads in NI which benefit connectivity) will take place or if the investment focus could be on road improvements which circuit the border.

Similarly roads which are used mainly by local communities in the course of day to day business could be affected.  Local authorities will decide what investment to make in these roads but will need information on how their usage might change.

Rail and bus traffic could be affected by border posts and customs, and again it is not clear whether the same level of passenger numbers will remain.  Ports and Ferries in the ROI may have the opportunity to respond to new demand, either for direct services to France or to take some of the traffic currently going through Larne from the ROI.

Finally there are very significant implications for energy (both electricity and natural gas), with potential changes to the energy markets and their governance, and the possible changes in the implementation of regulations and agreements all having potential consequences.

Services

There are currently a variety of services provided across border organised by agreement among government and service providers which could also be affected.  There does not appear to be a definitive list of these services but they include the provision of cancer treatment and radiology services in Derry to people in the North West (Donegal especially), the provision of all island children’s cardiac care in Dublin and other local hospital services including renal, ENT and urology services.  People can have prescriptions filled on either side of the border too.

In a separate area there is also agreement about the provision of some library services. We need to be better information available about the suite of services that are available across the border which people are using now but which might be affected in future by Brexit.

What do we need to know?

Clearly there are many areas where we have a limited understanding of potential issues which could arise from Brexit or where we lack information which would help inform our decisions.

We have a weak appreciation of the reasons people are travelling across the Border; how often they travel; and whether it is for work, trade or social reasons.  Similarly, we don’t have good information about local businesses supply chains and trading patterns; local service provision; the kind of community engagement ongoing and local social and cultural activities taking places across the Border.

In order to make the best decisions and the have the best policy responses to Brexit, better understanding of the issues and better information about the current situation is essential.

 

Helen McHenry

[1] Source: HM Government, 2017, Northern Ireland and Ireland – position paper Additional data paper: Common Travel Area data and statistics

[2] CSO, 2017, Census of Population, Profile 6 Commuting in Ireland

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Diversity in the Western Region – Census 2016 results

In the last few decades Ireland has become a much more multicultural society. To what extent is this also evident in and across the Western Region and what are the most recent trends?

Census 2017 Profile 7 Migration and Diversity provides details and a snapshot is posted here.

Non-Irish nationals

In the Western Region in 2016, there were 80,005 non-Irish nationals living in the Western Region, a decrease of over 5,000 (-5,296) or a decline of 6.2% on the 2011 figure. This is similar to the trend nationally though the decrease was much less (- 1.6%).

Country of Origin

Of the non-Irish nationals living in the Western Region in 2016, the largest group was UK nationals accounting for 29.1% or 26,288).

This was followed by Polish nationals comprising 23.6% (18,879).This contrasts with the picture across the State where Polish nationals were the largest group followed by UK nationals.

Within the Western Region, Lithuanians (3,819) comprise the third largest group, followed by Africans (2,434), Latvians (2,362) and Germans (2,281).

Where do non-Irish nationals reside?

Non-Irish nationals are resident across the country and Fig 1.1 shows the distribution by county and the change since 2011.

Within the Western Region non-nationals are widely distributed across the counties as Chart 1 below shows.

Chart 1. Non-Irish nationals Usually Resident and Present 2016, by Western Region county of residence

Galway city is the most multicultural city across the country, with 18.6% of its resident population recorded as non-Irish, this compares to just over 17% of Dublin City residents which were non-Irish nationals.

Considering diversity within towns, Ballyhaunis in Co.Mayo had the highest proportion of non-Irish nationals with 941 persons representing 39.5% of its population.  Within this the largest non-Irish group was Polish (159).

Gort in Co. Galway was also in the top ten towns with highest percentage of non-Irish nationals, 2016, with a total number of residents of 2,951, and 26.6% of non-Irish nationals of which the largest group is Brazilian (397).

Dual Irish nationality

As noted earlier, there has been a decline in the number of non-nationals between 2011 and 2016 both nationally and in the Western Region. The trend in the decline in non-Irish nationals is partly explained by the increase in the number of people holding dual Irish nationality (this coincides with changes to the citizenship application process introduced in 2011).

The numbers living in the Western Region and holding dual citizenship has increased by 5,757 (or 52.7%).

This compares to the trend across the state where the numbers of people holding dual citizenship (Irish-other country) increased by 87.4% over the period (104,784 persons)

The numbers living in the Western Region and holding dual citizenship in 2016 was 16,669 and represent a wide range of nationalities.

The largest group within the Western Region are Irish-Americans comprising 26.5% (4,419), followed by Irish-UK nationals (3,785) and Irish-Polish, 7.1% (1,201).

It is clear therefore that the Western Region is home to a wide range of nationalities both non-Irish and those with dual citizenship. Further detail is available on www.cso.ie.

Deirdre Frost

 

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What is Rural?

Many of us probably feel we know what rural means.  Perhaps when we hear the word we think of green fields, or wild mountains, or deserted beaches.  Or maybe we think of small villages, modern bungalows or just anywhere beyond ‘the big smoke’.  Arguably all of these are or can be considered rural and, indeed, in most situations it is not important how we define rural.  We know what it is, we use our mental definition, we even have casual conversations where everyone is talking about a different ‘rural’ and for the most part that doesn’t matter.

But is does matter when we come to make policy for rural places and when we think what should be included in ‘rural policy’, because the kind of policy we make and the kind of issues we address are strongly influenced by what we define as rural.  If we think of rural as fields and pastures then we may think of rural policy as agricultural policy, and if we think of it as market towns and pretty villages we may see it as a heritage or cultural issue and when we think of rural dwellers we have to think about how different policies affect people.

Defining Rural

The question of how we define rural for policy purposes and in relation to people rather than based on landscapes or places has not been resolved in Ireland.  While the OECD uses a definition relating to population density[1], the CSO defines the rural population as those living outside settlements of 1,500 people, while CEDRA (the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas) defined rural as those areas outside the administrative boundaries of the five main cities (Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford).  That definition includes some large urban settlements like Ennis, Dundalk and Kilkenny.  Realising our Rural Potential- the Action Plan for Rural Development refers to the CEDRA definition and provides a map of population densities but does not specify a definition of rural.

Finally, and most recently, the new Draft National Planning Framework (NPF) Ireland 2040- Our Plan defines rural as all areas outside towns of 10,000, unless they are within the immediate or ‘metropolitan’ catchment of a city[2].

How we define rural impacts on how many people we are considering when we make rural policy.  Is it a minority, niche policy, or something relevant to a majority of the population?  With the different definitions we get a very different population groups.  Under the OECD definition (a variation of which is used by Eurostat) 70.5% of the state population is predominantly rural.  Ireland is the most rural of the EU27 countries for both population and land area (for more information see note 1 below).

Looking at the different definitions used in Irish policy making (by the CSO, CEDRA and the NPF), for both the state as a whole and the Western Region we can see significant differences in the proportion of the population which is rural.

Figure 1: Percentage of the population living in rural areas according to definition for Western Region and State

Source: CSO Census of Population 2016,  Profile 2 – Population Distribution and Movements / E2014 own calculations

The Western Region is a very rural region and, whichever definition is used, the majority of the Region’s population falls into that category.  The CSO has the narrowest definition, with fewest defined as rural people (65%, or 535,953 people in the Western Region) while the CEDRA definition is inevitably the broadest, including on two thirds of the population of thewhole state (90% of the people in the Western Region). Nationally the definition of rural can take in anything between 37% and 66% of the population (between 1.8 and 3.1m people).

Looking at what is defined as rural in the three Regional Assembly Areas, which are important policy regions in the NPF and forthcoming Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (to be developed by the Regional Assemblies) there is a clear contrast among the regions.

Figure 2: Percentage of the population living in rural areas according to definition for three Regional Assembly Areas

Source: CSO Census of Population 2016,  Profile 2 – Population Distribution and Movements / E2014 own calculations

The NWRA is the most rural, with at least two thirds of its population classified as rural in the narrowest definition.  The EMRA, even using the broadest definition, has less than half its population defined as rural.

Rural Policy or Policy for Rural People?

Given the rural population numbers, whichever definition is used, most policy affecting the Western Region is  rural policy as it impacts on the majority of the population.  Even policy which focuses more on Galway and the larger towns has important effects on rural people as these are centres of employment, enterprise education and health services.

The question becomes whether policy for a rural region is rural policy or, given that more than half population is living in rural areas, are not the needs of a rural region integral to all policy, including that for enterprise, employment, healthcare or transport?  Does labelling large parts of the country as rural and expecting their needs to be covered by a ‘rural policy’ serve those dwelling in rural areas well?  Does it ensure infrastructure provision takes account of our settlement pattern as it is, rather than as we think it should be?  Or, if we treat rural as different and needing separate policy rather than as an integral part of our policy focus, can we ensure that businesses can operate efficiently throughout the country, or that people can find varied employment in different places?  These are not narrow issues of rural policy but involve addressing the needs of the wider population through all government policy

Clearly areas which are very peripheral and which have small populations have particular policy requirements but most people in rural areas, however they are defined, have the same needs for employment, healthcare, education and transport as the rest of the population.  It is therefore not only important to consider how we define rural but why we are doing so, and how these definitions can be used to ensure people throughout the Region and the country have their needs addressed equally.

 

Helen McHenry

 

[1] The OECD methodology classifies local administrative units level 2 with a population density below 150 inhabitants per km² as rural.  For more information on the definition see http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Urban-rural_typology

[2] These catchments are not mapped in the draft NPF and it is not clear how much of the country is considered to be within the influence of a city.

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