herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Fingal has fastest-growing population in the country, presenting an 'opportunity and a challenge'

Zoe McDermott and Sophie Barrett at the St Patrick's Day Parade in Balbriggan.
Zoe McDermott and Sophie Barrett at the St Patrick's Day Parade in Balbriggan.

Fingal is the fastest-growing area in the country, with a population increase of 8pc in the past five years, which has been described as "both a challenge and an opportunity".

The number of people living in Fingal is now 296,214, which is 22,223 more than the last time enumerators delivered census forms to households nationwide.

Despite the growth in the population, the number of households increased by only 4.4pc, reflecting larger household sizes. This was also seen in other areas of the city and county.

The increase in the national number of households was 3pc, lower than the rate of population increase, and the first time the rate of increase has dipped below the population increase in recent censuses.

This is most sharply seen in areas such as Fingal and south Dublin.

Ned Brennan, Chief Operating Officer with the Respond Housing Association, said the emerging trend is symptomatic of two things.

"We are seeing second family formation in the family home because adult children can't afford to buy or to rent elsewhere," he said.

"There is also the fact that immigrant families often have larger families than the average Irish family size."

Fingal has a high birth rate, and the population rise can be accounted for by people starting families there as well as people moving into the area who may have been priced out of other areas of the capital.

Investment

The sharp increases in much of Fingal have sparked calls for greater investment in public transport and other infrastructure to meet population growth.

"The census is giving statistical proof of something that Dublin 15 residents know all too well," said Green Party councillor Roderic O'Gorman. "More houses are being built, but the services, particularly public transport, are not being provided to match.

"Last year I highlighted how the Capital Infrastructure Plan 2016-2021 delivered little for Dublin west in terms of improving our public transport infrastructure.

"For example, no funding was provided in it for the Bus Rapid Transit(BRT) scheme from Ongar to UCD.

"This was despite the fact the BRT is the major transport solution for Ongar/West Blanchardstown."

Mr O'Gorman called for significant funding from Transport Minister Shane Ross as the area "cannot afford five years of gridlock".

Fingal County Council chief Paul Reid said the growth was both "a challenge and an opportunity" and he said the council will analyse the data and include it in future planning.

The population of Fingal has almost doubled in 25 years - in 1991 there were 152,766 people living there.

"The increased population shows the attractiveness of Fingal on many levels," said new Mayor of Fingal Darragh Butler.

"We will be doing everything we can to ensure that it continues to be the best place to live, to raise a family, to work in."

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