Ireland’s growing population


A chara, – Social and economic policies, as Brian M Walker states (Letters, September 9th), have an influence on population. The population of the island of Ireland declined by 49 per cent between 1841 and 1926. The population for the same years for what is now the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland declined by 54 per cent and 24 per cent respectively, elucidating the effects of the historical social and economic policies on the island.

What emerged following partition was an undercapitalised independent state, without the continual net subsidies available to one part and the payment of annuities from the other. These factors, among others, along with the impact of the Great Depression and the second World War, constrained the social and economic policies of the state in its first 25 years. Thereafter, the population continued to decline in the Republic of Ireland whereas it increased in Northern Ireland. Indeed, the population of Northern Ireland in 1971 was only slightly lower than that of 1841.

From the 1960s onwards, the Republic of Ireland imagined more progressive social and economic policies. For the first time since 1845, there was a halt in 1971 in the decline of the population in the Republic of Ireland. This year was a significant one on the island. Social and economic circumstances converged but also diverged. Between 1971 and 2019 the population of the Republic of Ireland increased by 65 per cent and that of Northern Ireland by 22 per cent. Of course, membership of the European Union since 1973 had an influential and positive effect, and while both parts of the island were members, only one part was directly immersed where it matters. – Is mise,