Ireland more diverse
IRELAND IS becoming a more mixed country with the latest census data showing that those born outside the State account for some 17 per cent of the population.
The number of people born outside Ireland but living here increased by 25 per cent to 766,770 in the period 2006-2011. This occurred despite the decline in the economy which when expanding attracted many thousands here.
The Central Statistics Office said the majority of those arriving came in the early part of the five-year period. The pace of immigration slowed as economic activity cooled from 2008 onwards.
The data shows that 33,674 foreign nationals moved to Ireland in the four months to April 2011, a significant fall on the figure recorded in 2006. The CSO said, however, that given the State’s recent economic difficulties the 2011 figure “confirms Ireland as a destination of choice for people from a wide range of countries”.
Polish nationals (122,585) have overtaken those from the UK (112,259) as the largest non-Irish group living in the State. The number of Polish nationals living here increased by 93.7 per cent between 2006 and 2011, while the number of UK nationals declined by 0.3 per cent. Overall, 544,357 non-Irish nationals were living in Ireland at the time of the 2011 census, an increase of 29.7 per cent or 124,624 on 2006, some 12 per cent of the population.
The rate of growth was considerably slower than in the period covered by the 2006 census when the non-Irish population almost doubled to 419,733.
The sharpest percentage increases in non-Irish-born residents were among Romanians, with the population more than doubling from 8,566 to 17,995 (up 110 per cent) following EU accession in 2007 and people from India, where the community grew by 91 per cent to 17,856.
The largest rise in overall terms was, unsurprisingly, among the Polish-born community which grew from 63,090 to 115,193 (up 83 per cent) in the period.
The growth in the number of Polish-born people was more than five times that recorded in the Lithuanian community, which grew by the second largest number (10,039) to 34,847.
The data highlights considerable increases in the number of Polish-born women and children (aged under 14 years) living in Ireland. The CSO said this was a strong indicator of families being reunited here.
The number of Polish-born women living in the State increased by 142 per cent to 55,584 and the number of children born in Poland more than tripled to 14,172. There were 59,609 Polish-born men living in Ireland on census night 2011.
People born in England and Wales still account for the largest group of individuals living in Ireland that were not born here at 212,286. The rate of growth in the group was small by comparison to many countries between 2006 and 2011 at about 3.7 per cent.
A question on foreign languages was asked for the first time in the 2011 census. And the results show that 514,068 people living in Ireland speak a foreign language at home – some 11 per cent of the population.
Unsurprisingly, Polish – with 119,526 people – was the foreign language most spoken in the home, followed by French (56,430), Lithuanian (31,635), German (27,342) and Spanish (22,446).
More than 25 per cent of those who spoke a foreign language at home were born in Ireland. Of these, 13,690 were children aged three to four years; 26,569 were primary school children and 21,187 were secondary pupils.
Those who said they spoke a foreign language at home were also asked how well they could speak English. Some 80,000 respondents said not well (70,126) or not at all (9,242).
Overall, 48 per cent of respondents to the question said they spoke English very well, 31 per cent said well, 15 per cent said not well and 6 per cent said not at all.
People from Lithuania, at 30 per cent, had the highest proportion of people saying they spoke English not well or at all, quickly followed by people from Latvia at 29 per cent.
Some 99 per cent of people from Denmark living in Ireland said they could speak English well or very well.
The CSO noted that the ability to speak English improved rapidly once a child started school, with about 1 per cent of primary school children not speaking English at all and less than 1 per cent in secondary.
A total of 5,718 people classified as being of working age (25 to 64 years) said they spoke no English at all.
In terms of ethnicity, 85 per cent of Irish residents identify themselves as white Irish, a 4.9 per cent increase on the 2006 census. Immigration from eastern Europe helped to push the number of “other white” respondents up by 43 per cent to 412,975.
Almost two-thirds of those making up ethnic groups other than white Irish were aged 35 years or less. Just 3 per cent in these groups were 65 or older. In contrast, less than half of those in the white Irish group were aged under 35 and 13 per cent were 65 or more.