Ireland’s population reaches record levels

24 June 2022

The Republic of Ireland’s population has reached an all-time high in the history of the state. The population has risen by 7.6% since the last census in 2016, to 5.1 million. On census night in April 2022, there were 5,123,536 people living in the country, consisting of 2,593,600 females and 2,529,936 males. The rise in population is down to a natural increase (new births) of 171,338 and an estimated net inward migration of 190,333.

Every county has seen a rise in population, with notable population growth in Leinster. Longford saw the biggest percentage increase (+14.1%), followed by Meath (+12.9%). This is in contrast to Census 2016 when three counties (Mayo, Sligo, and Donegal) had still seen a fall in their population.

The census also evaluated housing stock. According to Cormac Halpin, a senior statistician in the Census Division, “the preliminary results show that the total housing stock on 3 April 2022 was 2,124,590, an increase of 6.0% on the 2016 figure. There were 16,560 fewer vacant dwellings (-9.0%) in 2022 compared to 2016. This does not include holiday homes, of which there were 66,135, compared with 62,148 in 2016.”

Mr. Halpin noted that vacant property did not mean it was available for immediate re-use, in that a  dwelling is classed as vacant by the census if it is unoccupied for a short or long period around census night.

The population rise also means that there will be a political impact. The Dáil will have at least 11 extra TDs. Under the Irish constitution (Article 16.2.2), there should be one TD per 30,000 citizens. Due to the population rise, 38 out of 39 constituencies are now above this threshold. 

As a result, the Electoral Commission, which will be established once the Electoral Reform Bill passes through the Oireachtas, will be tasked with drafting the new constituencies. For this, the Commission will need to redraw boundaries and consider a number of factors, as to how best to include the news seats. 

Last year, Northern Ireland’s census showed the province’s population rising to 1.9 million, the highest figure in the history of Northern Ireland. Thus, the combined population figure on the island is now around 7 million. Despite such upward growth, the island’s population is still well below pre-famine levels of around 8.5million in 1845. The Irish famine from 1845-1852 resulted in over 1 million deaths and 1 million people emigrating and sent the Irish population into steady decline.