Sunday 21 April 2019

People in Border region at a greater risk of poverty than rest of country

Several counties within the Border region have numerous disadvantages compared to others, such as broadband access, disposable income and housing vacancies. Stock photo: GETTY
Several counties within the Border region have numerous disadvantages compared to others, such as broadband access, disposable income and housing vacancies. Stock photo: GETTY
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

People living in the Border region are at a greater risk of poverty compared to the rest of the country, according to a report on regional life in Ireland.

New figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that 25.7pc of residents living in Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo were struggling financially in 2017.

The statistics are significantly different compared to people from Dublin and the mid-west, who were less than half as likely to fall into poverty.

The total population of the five Border region counties at the time was around 394,000.

The new figures are contained in the CSO's Regional Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Ireland for 2017, which contains 70 indicators on regional life in Ireland.

It outlined that several counties within the Border region had numerous disadvantages compared to others, such as broadband access, disposable income and housing vacancies.

However, a number of positive aspects were highlighted for those living here, such as cheaper rents and shorter commuting times.

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith said rural towns and villages need to be revived.

"Through strategies such as the Empty Shops Initiative, combined with a revamp of the commercial rates system and new laws to encourage town centre development, we want to invest in our rural towns and villages and bring them back to the busy hubs they once were.

"Only when this happens will we see employment levels improve and poverty levels fall," he said.

The SDG report covers a set of global development targets adopted by United Nations member countries in September 2015.

One key finding it highlighted was that one in six drivers in Ireland has penalty points on their licence.

The rate is as high as 21pc in Wexford and Galway, but just 13pc in Donegal and Louth.

The report also showed that seven out of every 10 private households had broadband access in 2016.

Leitrim had the lowest rate of access at 58pc, while Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown had the highest at 86pc.

The highest employment rate in 2017 was in the south-west at 70.1pc, followed Dublin at 69.1pc, while the lowest was in the midland region at 59.4pc.

The report revealed that about one in eight (12.3pc) dwellings was declared vacant in Ireland in 2016.

Leitrim (29pc), Donegal (27.4pc) and Kerry (24pc) had the highest vacancy rates. The lowest rates were in the Dublin region.

The report also found that the highest average weekly rents were all in Dublin: Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown (€335), Dublin City (€276), Fingal (€261) and south Dublin (€259).

Leitrim (€99) and Longford (€101) had the lowest average weekly rents.

Other figures included in the report was the country's fertility rate, which stood at 1.81 in 2016. The highest rates were 2.25 in Longford and 2.21 in both Cavan and Waterford county. The four lowest fertility rates were Dublin City (1.46), Cork City (1.5) and Galway City (1.6).

Irish Independent

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