Census postponed until 2022 due to Covid-19 pandemic

Government puts back national population count by a year over safety concerns

The official count of the country’s population conducted by the Central Statistics Office was due to take place on April 18th, 2021. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The official count of the country’s population conducted by the Central Statistics Office was due to take place on April 18th, 2021. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The census, a national survey of the population due to take place next year, has been postponed until 2022 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The official count of the country’s population conducted by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) was due to take place on April 18th, 2021.

The Government on Tuesday decided to postpone the census by a year to April 2022, due to safety fears due to Covid-19.

CSO director general Pádraig Dalton said the decision to postpone the census “was not taken lightly and was based on a number of factors”.

“Foremost in the decision making was the need to ensure the safety of the general public and CSO field staff, coupled with the need to deliver a census that achieves the highest possible response rate, across all facets of Irish society,” he said.

The national survey, which includes a series of questions, “is a unique count of everyone present in Ireland on census night and provides essential information for planning and decision making”, Mr Dalton said.

The census “is a major logistical operation and Covid-19 restrictions have prevented or delayed many key planning activities from taking place over recent months,” he added.

The national survey records the demographics of the population, such as what type of accommodation people live in, their religion, ethnicity, marital status, and occupation.

The official counts have taken place every five years since the 1950s, with a small number of exceptions.

In 2001, the census was postponed due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, and took place the following year.

The 1976 census was cancelled at a late stage by then Fine Gael taoiseach Liam Cosgrave to save the State money during a period of financial instability.

A limited count of the population was undertaken three years later, ahead of a full census in 1981.