THE six border counties have some of the country’s highest rates of empty homes, medical card holders, pensioners, voter apathy and fewer jobs than anywhere else. New census data has highlighted some of the regional splits in lifestyles across Ireland with some of the most ssignificant differences affecting the half a million people living in Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo.
Many differences identified in the report are expected, such as low pupil class numbers in western counties and the highest employment rates, house prices and people with the most disposable income in Dublin. But some of the starker variations hit the border region, which has the lowest rate of jobs compared with the southeast counties which had the highest rate of unemployment at 19 per cent. In Dublin the rate of people in work in 2012 was highest at 62 per cent – 10 per cent higher than the worst affected border counties. The Regional Quality of Life report from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) compares lifestyle, housing, health, education and economic activity across the country.
Using census figures, the study recorded nearly four out of 10 people in the border counties have a medical card and no private health insurance compared with less than a quarter in Dublin, the mid-east and the mid-west. Two years ago, 14.5 per cent of all the houses in Ireland were lying empty with the highest vacancy rates in the border and west regions at 22 per cent and 20 per cent and 20 per cent, the report said. The worst effected counties were Leitrim and Donegal with rates of 30 per cent and 28 per cent. Counties along the west coast and Wexford also had rates above the 20 per cent mark while more than a third of homes in the midland and mid east regions were built between 2001 and 2011, compared to 22 per cent in Dublin. Throughout the state, 22 per cent of people finished their full-time education at 15-17 years of age, varying from over a quarter in the south east and border regions to under 20 per sent in Dublin.
The CSO report also identifed low voter rates with turnout in the border region for the children’s referendum as low as 28 per cent compared to 37 per cent in the capital. In all urban areas there were more women than men, whereas in all rural areas there were more men than women. But looking at the age of the population the CSO said that the west and border regions had a 20 per cent rate of people 65 and over compared with an overall proportion of 17.4 per cent in 2011. The highest proportion of persons living alone was in the 65 and over age group at 26 per cent. The border region had the highest proportion with 27 per cent of the people in this group living lone while the mid east at 23 per cent, had the lowest. Leitrim had the highest proportion of persons aged 65 and over living alone, compared to the lowest in Fingal. Outside of the main urban areas, Longford has one of the highest rates of foreigners and immigrants with 14.1 per cent of the county’s population non-Irish. Galway city, at 19 per cent, Fingal, at 18 per cent, and Dublin city, at 17 per cent, had the highest proportions of non-Irish nationals, while Donegal at 8.1 per cent had the lowest proportion.
With many thanks to : Ed Carty, Irish News.
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