Heightened rural poverty around small towns laid bare

Index published by Pobal identifies most affluent and deprived locations across the State

Affluence disparities in Ireland  are most stark in large urban areas, with the greatest gap in Dublin. While Dublin 2, described as “very affluent” scores 22.5, Darndale on the northside of the capital is “very disadvantaged” and scores -21.5, a gap of 44 points on the scale. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Affluence disparities in Ireland are most stark in large urban areas, with the greatest gap in Dublin. While Dublin 2, described as “very affluent” scores 22.5, Darndale on the northside of the capital is “very disadvantaged” and scores -21.5, a gap of 44 points on the scale. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

The concentration of rural poverty around small towns across the State is laid bare in the latest national deprivation index, published on Thursday by Pobal.

Pobal is a not-for-profit intermediary between Government and communities, helping to best direct State and EU resources to the most disadvantaged sectors.

The index, which draws on 2016 Census data, identifies the most affluent and deprived locations, by small area, electoral division and county, across the State. This is the third such r index published since the 2006 Census.

Areas are “scored” based on data from households including educational attainment, employment status, type of work done, the care burden and housing tenure. The “average” is set at 0, with scores ranging from -40 for the most disadvantaged to +40 for the most affluent.

Stark disparities

Affluence disparities, as with previous indices, are most stark in large urban areas, with the greatest gap in Dublin. While Dublin 2, described as “very affluent” scores 22.5, Darndale on the northside of the capital is “very disadvantaged” and scores -21.5, a gap of 44 points on the scale.

In Limerick city there is a 42.4 point gap between the area known as Castle C, stretching from O’Connell Street in the centre and across the river to the Ennis Road, and the St Mary’s Park area. The former, classified as “affluent” scores 10.53, while the latter, described as “extremely disadvantaged” has the lowest score in the State, at -31.9.

In Cork city the most affluent area is Bishopstown A with a score of 13.69. It contrasts with Fairhill, described as “very disadvantaged”. It has a score of -22.3, a disparity of 35.99 points.

In Galway, “affluent” Knocknacarra scores 12.48, while “marginally below average” Newcastle scores -7.64, a gap of 20 points.

In Dublin the gap is 44 points, between 22.5 in Dublin 2 and -21.5 in Darndale.

Going beyond the cities, the extremes are less pronounced. However, the extent to which the poorest areas in many counties are around towns of between 1,000 and 5,000 people is notable.

The most deprived areas in such counties as Meath (Kells), Kildare (Athy), Monaghan (Clones), Tipperary (Tipperary town east), Waterford (Larchville in Waterford city), Wicklow (Carnew), Louth (Dundalk), Cavan (Cavan town), Longford (Longford town) and Westmeath (Mullingar) are their larger towns.

Dublin had fared best over the past decade, while such towns had not only suffered worst from the recession but had also benefited least from the recovery, said Pobal.

Gaeltacht communities

Other areas where deprivation remains concentrated are along the western seaboard and in some Gaeltacht communities, particularly in counties Donegal and Galway.

Speaking at the publication of the data, Minister of State for Communities Michael Ring said it was clear policies must recognise the devastation done to many small towns in the past decade.

“The report shows today that where the jobs are and where the development has taken place is where the wealth is. And where there are no jobs, in the smaller towns and villages as we can see form this report, these are the ones that are suffering most.

“That is why we are putting in schemes. Particularly in towns and villages to get hubs, like digital hubs, where the infrastructure might not be there, they can be, and that is what we need to focus on,” he said.