independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Plight of border counties revealed

Leitrim and Donegal have the country's highest rates of empty homes

The six border counties have some of the country's highest rates of empty homes, medical card holders, pensioners, voter apathy and fewer jobs than anywhere else.

New census data has highlighted some of the regional splits in lifestyles across Ireland with some of the most significant differences affecting the half a million people living in Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo.

Many differences identified in the report are expected, such as low pupil class numbers in western counties and the highest employment rates, house prices and people with the most disposable income in Dublin.

But some of the starker variations hit the border region which has the lowest rate of jobs compared with the South-East counties. It had the highest rate of unemployment at 19%.

In Dublin the rate of people in work in 2012 was highest at 62% - 10% higher than the worst affected border counties.

The Regional Quality of Life report from the Central Statistics Office compares lifestyle, housing, health, education and economic activity across the country.

Using census figures, the study recorded nearly four out of 10 people in the Border counties have a medical card and no private health insurance compared with less than a quarter in Dublin, the Mid-East and the Mid-West.

Two years ago, 14.5% of all the houses in Ireland were lying empty with the highest vacancy rates in the Border and West regions at 22% and 20%, the report said. The worst affected counties were Leitrim and Donegal with rates of 30% and 28%.

In all urban areas there were more women than men, whereas in all rural areas there were more men than women. But looking at the age of the population the CSO said that the West and Border regions had a 20% rate of people 65 and over compared with an overall proportion of 17.4% in 2011.

At a national level, the highest proportion of persons living alone was in the 65 and over age group at 26%. The Border region had the highest proportion with 27% of people in this group living lone while the Mid-East at 23%, had the lowest.

Press Association

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