Wednesday, 19 December 2007

We're top of the population charts as immigration soars

Ireland has the fastest growing population in the European Union, even though most migrants leave after four years.

Only Spain and Cyprus came anywhere close to our steep annual growth rate among the 27 member states in the 12 months to April this year.

This is the third year in a row in which a rise of over 2pc in the number of people living in the Republic was recorded.

And the first in-depth survey of foreign nationals working in Ireland, also published yesterday, indicates that almost two-thirds of them leave within four years.

Figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveal that just 34pc of those given personal public service numbers (PPSN) in 2002 were still in employment last year.

Of the 83,140 foreign nationals who were allocated a number five years ago, 53pc were working the following year.

This dropped to 41pc the following year before diving to 34pc last year.

CSO officials said soaring levels of immigration was the main factor pushing up the population by 2.5pc this year, to an estimated total of 4.3 million people. The total number of immigrants in the year to April was 109,500, far higher than any year since 1987.


Analysts predicted last night that there will be no interruption in the inward flow of non-nationals over the next few years.

Speaking at the launch of the results yesterday, CSO senior statistician Aidan Punch said the population rate places us "way above our European counterparts".

He said the massive rate of growth that followed the addition of 10 accession countries to the EU in 2004 led to a dramatic 7.5pc rise in numbers living here since then. The new arrivals are mostly young and male and come from the 10 accession states.

In 2002 and 2003, there were less than 10,000 arrivals from these countries, but there was an influx of 59,000 in 2004.

The trend gathered momentum and last year there were 139,000 arrivals from the accession states, accounting for 61pc of all arrivals.

A total of 42pc were aged between 15 and 24, and 43pc were aged between 24 and 44, statistics show.


Most came from Poland, which accounted for 94,000 new arrivals last year, while 22,000 came from the UK.

However, many of the UK arrivals may be Irish nationals, or people who came from other EU countries after travelling to the UK first.

Of those from the accession countries, 67pc were Polish, 12pc Lithuanian, 8pc were Slovakian, and 6pc Latvian.

Our population growth rate is far ahead of the second most expanding country, Spain, where the growth rate is 1.64pc, according to figures from EU statistics agency Eurostat.

The third fastest growing state in the EU is Cyprus, which is increasing at a rate of 1.6pc.

Our population is growing at almost three times the rate it is in the UK, which saw a rise of 0.8pc this year.

Irish Independent

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