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Census night is your chance to be counted

Editorial


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Mya and Zara Akinsowon, both aged eight and from Baldoyle, Co. Dublin, at Government Buildings for the launch of Cernsus 2022 last month. Photo: Jason Clarke

Mya and Zara Akinsowon, both aged eight and from Baldoyle, Co. Dublin, at Government Buildings for the launch of Cernsus 2022 last month. Photo: Jason Clarke

Mya and Zara Akinsowon, both aged eight and from Baldoyle, Co. Dublin, at Government Buildings for the launch of Cernsus 2022 last month. Photo: Jason Clarke

According to Albert Einstein, intelligence is not the ability to store information, but to know where to find it. And that is why enumerators all over the country have been knocking on our doors compiling the national Census.

It is your chance to make your presence felt. Literally. Many are wary of data sweeps, Sometimes it feels as if we are swamped if not drowning in information.

When it comes at us in a flood it feels as if we are taking a drink from a fire hydrant.

Given the over-reach of technology, some may wonder why a government bothers with something so basic as a house-to-house fact-finding trawl. It needs to be stressed that this is not an attempt by the State to poke its nose into your personal affairs for frivolity.

The Census furnishes the Government with vital knowledge which it needs to keep the country running. Planning for schools, hospitals, pensions and many more aspects of daily life would not be possible without it. Those suspicious of state intentions may get especially paranoid when it comes to filling in their form. But remember, without this data it would be impossible to provide or plan for state services. It is used across interconnecting sectors to manage public affairs.

The critical point is to guarantee that the data is organised, processed, and available to the right people in a format for framing policy. In short, it is the oxygen of government.

Since the first one was taken here in 1821, they have been used with varying degrees of success, to establish numbers and characteristics of the nation’s inhabitants.

They have been used for all kinds of reasons, some of which were surprising.

For instance, those taken for 1881 and 1891 were apparently pulped during the First World War, apparently because of the paper shortage. They still play a pivotal role in giving the State a flavour of the living experience of its people. Without such fresh information, new ideas and thinking becomes impossible. Unfortunately Covid and staff shortages have contrived to deprive thousands of people from participating in the Census tomorrow night. But the integrity of the process is nothingness assured.

It is understood enumerators will be posting forms to homes with which they were unable to gain access. Eileen Murphy, head of Census administration said: “The people of Ireland have always been extremely supportive of Census and we thank them for their overwhelming support of Census 2022.”

The “time capsule” element of the form is an inspired inclusion, sending a message to the future. We are being given a chance to be part of the brave new world of 100 years’ time.

Thoughts and hopes can be projected to generations unborn. Our collective entries can offer a unique picture of who we were, and are.

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The Census should show not only that you have been counted, but also that you count.


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