Monday 27 January 2020

How Ireland lives: regional splits in lifestyle revealed

Ed Carty

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 which 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%.

Counties along the west coast and Wexford also had rates above the 20% mark while more than a third of homes in the Midland and Mid-East regions were built between 2001 and 2011, compared to 22% in Dublin.

Nationally, 22% of people finished their full-time education at 15-17 years of age, varying from over a quarter in the South-East and Border regions to under 20% in Dublin.

The CSO report also identified low voter rates with turnout in the Border region for the children's referendum as low as 28% compared to 37% in the capital.

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.

Leitrim had the highest proportion of persons aged 65 and over living alone, compared to the lowest in Fingal.

Outside of the main urban areas, Longford has one of the highest rates of foreigners and immigrants with 14.1% of the county's population non-Irish.

Galway City, at 19%, Fingal, at 18%, and Dublin city, at 17%, had the highest proportions of non-Irish nationals, while Donegal at 8.1% had the lowest proportion.

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