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Monday 27 March 2017

We're poorer and sicker -- with more crime and bigger debts

Edel O'Connell

IRELAND is poorer and sicker, is experiencing more crime and is in greater debt than ever.

The latest snapshot of Irish life in 2010 paints a grim picture of rising unemployment, a soaring social welfare spend, a doubling of the government deficit and a slowing down of the baby boom.

The negative figures were published yesterday by the Central Statistics Office as part of its annual statistical yearbook.

Among the most striking changes is the increase in the general government deficit -- up from just under €22.7bn in 2009 to €49.6bn in 2010 -- and a 30pc decrease in the level of production in the construction sector in the same period.

Unemployment increased by 11pc between 2009 and 2010, going from 264,600 to 293,600.

The number of days lost to industrial disputes last year was 6,602 -- down an incredible 98pc from the 329,593 days in 2009.

The statistics reveal there has been a staggering 98.7pc increase in expenditure on social welfare payments between 2003 and last year, which now accounts for 16.7pc of gross national product compared to 9pc in 2003.

Poverty

The figures also record a deepening chasm between the average earnings of men and women in Ireland.

Last year there was a €14,000 disparity in the average earnings of men (€47,178) and women (€33,932).

Almost 29pc of individuals reported having experienced at least one form of enforced deprivation last year -- with 5.5pc of people in consistent poverty -- up 1.3pc on the previous year.

There were also a massive 58,731 redundancies in 2010.

The baby boom which saw more babies born during the third quarter of 2009 than at any time since 1980 slowed slightly last year with 73,724 births, down 554 on 2009.

The population on census night in April 2010 was 4,581,260 -- up from 4,239,848 in April 2006.

Divorce is also on the decrease -- according to the CSO figures the number of divorces granted by the Circuit Court and the High Court in 2010 was 3,113, a decrease of 228 on 2009.

There was some good news amid the gloom including the number of new cars, which increased by 56pc on 2009 and the fact that road deaths fell to 212 in 2010, the lowest level on record, down 26 from 2009.

However, crime is on the increase, particularly in the capital where nearly 40pc of burglaries were recorded in the Dublin metropolitan region -- in a year which saw the number of gardai drop to 14,377 from 14,547.

Theft offences decreased from 77,031 in 2009 to 76,852 in 2010 as did homicide which dropped by more than 30pc from 126 in 2005 to 86 last year.

However, sexual offences have increased by 33pc from 1,801 in 2005 to 2,398 last year.

Tourism-wise, Ireland appears to be less attractive to overseas visitors, with the number of overseas trips tumbling by 12.9pc, to just over 6 million last year.

Irish residents favoured the staycation last year with under 6.5 million trips abroad made -- about 7pc fewer than in 2009.

Meanwhile, the number of new cancer cases diagnosed has risen by 8pc since 2006.

There were 29,775 cases diagnosed in 2010, up almost 8pc from 27,590 in 2006 -- with skin cancer being the most common form of cancer diagnosed.

Irish Independent

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