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2016 Census may be delayed in government spending review

The government may decide to delay the next census, after the CSO suggested it could be considered for spending cutbacks.

Ellen O'Brien from the CSO does her final checks ahead of the distribution of census forms last year. The 2016 census could be delayed in order to minimise the government's spending burden, it has emerged.
Ellen O'Brien from the CSO does her final checks ahead of the distribution of census forms last year. The 2016 census could be delayed in order to minimise the government's spending burden, it has emerged.
Image: Photocall Ireland

THE NEXT national census, planned for 2016, may be delayed by the government as part of plans for the government’s comprehensive review of national spending.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny says the CSO has recommended that the 2016 census be reviewed as part of the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure, and conducted a review to establish whether one is needed in four years’ time.

Censuses are usually held every five years, but the next one could be put back if the government decides that the most recent data from 2011 can be used to determine the provision of national services in the meantime.

“A review was undertaken during the latter part of 2011 when the CSO consulted with a range of users to establish how census data is being used and to seek views on the need for a census in 2016,” the Taoiseach told his Fine Gael colleague Patrick O’Donovan.

The CSO also conducted a review of the methods by which its census data is conducted and collected.

“The outcome of the consultation with users and review of implementation options for Census 2016 will be considered by Government shortly.”

It will be then up to the Cabinet to decide whether it will continue with a census in 2016, continuing the usual five-year cycle, or whether it will delay a further national headcount until a following year.

“The Government is committed to the publication of accurate and timely statistics and is aware of the value of statistics to informed decision making in Ireland,” Kenny insisted.

“The availability of good quality statistics has an important role to play in advancing policy priorities.”

CSO documents produced ahead of last year’s census said the price of each census was around €55 million, spread over a three-year period covering with the preparation of IT systems, the payment of enumerators, and the processing of results.

Read: A TD wants to know: How many Jedi Knights are there in Ireland?

More: Census 2011 reveals Ireland’s fastest-growing towns and counties

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Gavan Reilly

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