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Ireland’s population boom

Words: Roger Milne
Dublin - population growth / iStock-511475814

The Irish state’s population looks set to hit the five-million mark next year – latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show it currently stands at 4.9 million.

All regions showed a population increase in the year to April 2019, ranging from 2,600 persons (0.5 per cent) in the Mid-West to 25,100 persons (1.8 per cent) in Dublin.  

The capital’s population was estimated to be almost 1.4 million people – just over 28.4 per cent of the country’s total population.

Commentators have noted that the last time the population was above five million was when it was recorded in a census just after the Great Famine in 1851.

During the year to this April a total of 88,600 people immigrated to Ireland – just over 30 per cent of them were returning Irish nationals.

And Irish nationals made up almost 53 per cent of the 54,900 people who emigrated during the same period. The figures also show that 622,700 residents are non-Irish nationals.

The statistics are a major factor in the state’s bid to increase not just housing delivery, but key infrastructure – as set out in the national development plan.

Other data published this week by the CSO underlines graphically that the so-called ‘Emerald Isle’ is making little or no progress in improving its performance as a greener country.

Latest environmental indictors reveal that air quality in Ireland has improved since 1990 for all indicators except ammonia. These emissions were 7.9 per cent higher in 2017 than in 1990. The main source of ammonia is farming.

However, Ireland performed poorly compared with the emissions of other EU member states in 2017. Ireland ranked 18th worst for PM2.5, 11th worst for sulphur dioxide, worst for nitrogen oxides, seventh worst for ammonia, and worst for non-methane volatile organic compounds.

In 2017, Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions were 60.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This was a reduction compared with peak emissions of 70.5 million tonnes in 2001, but was 9.6 per cent higher than the 1990 figure of 55.4 million tonnes.

Ireland had the third-highest emissions of greenhouse gases per capita in the EU in 2017 – at 13.3 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

Agriculture was the sector with the highest greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland at 33 per cent of the total in 2017.

In 2016, 10.7 per cent of Ireland’s total land area was covered by forestry. This was the second-lowest proportion in the EU28.

Image credit | iStock