The number of residents in present-day Ireland has decreased to about half since the 1840s, which is partly due to the emergency years in the mid-1800s and partly to a very large emigration. However, since the beginning of the 1960s (when the population was 2.8 million) the population has increased, and Ireland has a high nativity for Europe.
In the Dublin area, 25 percent of Ireland’s population lives, and 60 percent live in urban areas with over 1,500 residents. The largest cities in 2016 were Dublin (553,200), Cork (125,600) and Galway (79,500). Ireland has a young population; almost half of the population is under 25 years of age.
- AllCityPopulation: Find Ireland demographics including latest population, life expectancy, age structure, and urbanization.
According to Countryaah, Irish and English are official languages in Ireland. In essence, English or Hiberno-English is spoken (English colored by Irish pronunciation and expression). In 2006, about 42% of the population considered themselves Irish-speaking, but only a fraction of them speak Irish only. Most are more or less bilingual, with Irish as other languages. The Irish state is working to strengthen the position of the Irish, including through legislation and Bord na Gaeilge (Irish Language Council). For example, Irish are compulsory subject in school education since 1921.
Since 1937 there has been complete freedom of religion. In 1991, 91.6% of the population were Roman Catholics, 2.5% Anglicans.
In May 2009, the Ryan Commission published its report showing that 30,000 children in the years 1936-2000 had been subjected to sexual abuse in state institutions run by the Catholic Church. In July, the government decided to follow the Commission’s recommendations, provide compensation to victims who are still alive and rectify state institutions so that abuse can be prevented in the future. In November, the diocese of Dublin Murphy published the report of clergy sexual abuse against children in 1975-2004. It showed that both the church and state authorities – including the police – had covered the many hundreds of assaults during the period. A referendum on the inclusion of children’s rights in the Constitution was further postponed by Parliament.
In November, the Children’s Ombudsman announced that unaccompanied refugee children receive less care than children in the ordinary Irish system and that many are placed in private shelters without supervision. She also expressed concern over 419 unaccompanied children had disappeared in 2000-09 and was critical of the authorities’ lack of or sparse handling of these disappearances. At the same time, she criticized the country’s asylum procedures for failing to take sufficient account of children’s age or vulnerability.
The February 2011 parliamentary election was a disaster for Fianna Fáil, falling 24.2% to 17.4. All other parties went forward. Conservative Fine Gael rose 8.8% to 36.1 and became the largest in Parliament. Social democracy rose 9.3% to 19.4, and Sinn Féin went up 3.3% to 9.9. After the election, Fine Gael formed the government of social democracy with Enda Kenny as prime minister.
Fine Gael had led the election campaign to negotiate better economic agreements with the EU in place. However, EU leaders were unwilling to change much about Ireland, as it would dispose of Europe’s other troubled countries, but in July they agreed to extend the repayment period on the Union’s loan to Ireland and cut interest rates by 2%. At the same time, Prime Minister Kenny arranged to lower his own and his ministers’ wages, and further stated that it was only himself, the President, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice in the future who would have a car driver available. The other ministers had to handle their transport themselves.
In July, Cloyne published the report, which uncovered 19 Catholic priests’ sexual assaults against minors at the Cloyne diocese. At the same time, the prime minister took the opportunity to sharply criticize the Vatican as the Vatican had tried to obstruct the investigation. The attack on the Vatican was unheard of, as the Irish state has always had a close relationship with the Catholic Church and the Vatican.
The state budget for 2012 contained a complicated composition of tax increases in the form of, among other things. increased VAT and tax cuts for businesses, the economy shrank 0.9% and there were signs that the crisis was deepening.
In October, the Prison and Probation Service published a report on conditions at St Patrick’s Institution for Young Criminals. The report described the abuse, intimidation and harsh punishment of the interned boys and young men.
In February 2013, the Prime Minister made a formal apology to the survivors of the Magdalene Asylum Centers. The centers had existed from the 18th century to the end of the 20th century and served almost as a kind of prison for “fallen” women who were found promiscuous or prostitutes. In the centers, they were forced to work hard under the supervision of nuns and punished physically and mentally. At the same time, Kenny stated that the 800-1000 surviving women would be compensated for the abuses against them. In June 2014, an unmarked mass grave was found with the bodies of up to 800 buried babies and children from a Magdalena center in Tuam in County Galway. The finding was a public scandal and in January 2015, the Irish Minister for Children and Young People’s Affairs set up a commission to investigate the centers.
The EU oversight of Ireland’s economy (the crisis packages) was completed in December 2013 and Prime Minister Kenny took the opportunity to declare that the country’s economy was moving in the right direction. Economic growth was 4.7% in 2014, but the unemployment rate of 10.6% was a clear sign that the crisis was not over.