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FactCheck: Does this tweet show the decline of the 'ethnic Irish' population from 2040 onward?

It’s been claimed that Project Ireland 2040 will lead to a decline in Ireland’s native population – but is this true?


LAST YEAR, THE government unveiled Project Ireland 2040, a national framework and capital expenditure plan for the next two decades.

The €116 billion proposals outlined what will be built in Ireland over the next 22 years as part of a long-term vision for the country, which aims to “enhance the wellbeing and quality of life” of those who live here.

However, the plan also led to some claims about what it would do to the makeup of the country’s population. 

A theory emerged online that the number of native Irish people living here over the next half century would be significantly reduced under the measures proposed. 

A tweet putting forward this narrative was widely shared this week. But was it accurate? 

The Claim

This week, alt-right YouTuber Stefan Molyneaux released a video critiquing Project Ireland 2040 called “The Terrible Truth about Ireland 2040″.

In its description, Molyneaux called the proposals “a 25-year Irish government planning document which aims to import countless migrants into Ireland, largely from Africa”.

The video prompted one Irish Twitter user to share an image purportedly showing the projected decline of Ireland’s native population from 2040 onwards:

Frankie Lavelle tweet Twitter / @FrankieLavelle Twitter / @FrankieLavelle / @FrankieLavelle

Although it was not included in Molyneux’s video, the tweeter attached an image to his tweet which encouraged people to watch the upload. 

The image attached to the tweet appears to show how the government’s plan will see a drastic reduction in the “ethnic Irish” population across the country as the 21st century develops.

By 2080, it’s claimed that Irish people will only be in a majority in parts of Munster, Connaught, Donegal and other small areas in Northern Ireland.

What’s more, it’s also suggested that the expected decline in the native Irish population has been approved by the European Union and the United Nations.

Will Ireland’s native population significantly reduce under Project 2040?

According to the Government, Ireland’s population is expected to increase by one million people by 2040, with an additional 660,000 people expected to join the workforce.

The National Planning Framework for 2040 was created in response to this, with the aim of ending the current trend of long-distance commuting across the country.

But rather than adding to Dublin’s population – another current trend – the government decided to develop a framework that would see 75% of Ireland’s expected population growth take place outside the capital.

That means that northern, western and southern regions would see a population increase of 750,000 people by 2040, with a further 250,000 people expected to live in Dublin.

These figures would be on top of the number of people already living there today.

But nowhere does Project Ireland 2040 mention that this population growth will be achieved by “importing” migrants to Ireland, from Africa or otherwise.

The words “migrant”, “immigration”, “overseas” and “Africa” do not appear once in the Government’s executive summary of the plan.

The sole appearance of the word “foreign” appears in a sentence describing one of the country’s recent economic policies: “Ireland has been outstandingly successful in attracting major foreign investment, generating high quality, large-scale employment.”

Meanwhile, the map showing the projected “ethnic Irish” population decline between 2040 and 2080 can be debunked.

It does not show what the above tweet purports it to. Instead, it shows the decline of Ireland’s native Irish speakers between 1800 and 1900.

Here is the series of maps that were shared by Irish Twitter user @FrankieLavelle (as shown above):

Majority Twitter / @FrankieLavelle Twitter / @FrankieLavelle / @FrankieLavelle

And here is the same series of maps (with an additional image) showing the decline in Ireland’s native Irish speakers between 1800 and 2000, which appeared on image hosting site Imgur in 2016:

Irish speakers decline

The middle two maps correspond to statistics from the Central Statistics Office, showing a decline in the number of Irish speakers from 29.1% in 1851 to 19.2% in 1901:

Irish speakers table Central Statistics Office Central Statistics Office

The provincial breakdown shows significant declines in Munster and Connaught, which also corresponds to the 1850 and 1900 maps above.

Another independent map from 1871 appears to correspond roughly to the 1851 map above, while another independent map of Gaeltacht areas from 2006 also corresponds roughly to the 2000 map above.

However, no map could be found to verify the map from 1800.

It should also be noted that the fake image contains population projections for Northern Ireland, a separate jurisdiction which does not form part of the plans contained within Project Ireland 2040.

Finally, Lavelle’s tweet claimed that Project Ireland 2040 has been approved by the European Union and the United Nations.

Ireland is a signatory to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, while a section of the plan also says its implementation “must take account of and address Ireland’s changing position in a European and global context”.

However, the plan itself was drafted by the Government, with no proof that the EU or the UN had any input in it aside from these considerations.

Asked to explain his tweet by, Lavelle referred to comments he made on the ‘Nine til Noon Show’ on Highland Radio yesterday morning.

“Someone has taken a map to show the decline of the Irish language, and how it’s spread back to the Gaeltachts,” he said.

“They made a comparative map showing that this is going to be like history repeating itself.”


We rate this claim as FALSE.

The tweet does not show a projected decline of the ‘ethnic Irish’ population from 2040. It is an older series of maps which was used to show the projected decline of Ireland’s native Irish speakers.

The Government’s plan for 2040 only outlines a framework for what will be built in Ireland over the next two decades and how the country will manage its population growth.

There are no projected figures on migration or any reference to the reduction of Ireland’s ethnic population in Project Ireland 2040, and maps that have been shared which purport to show this will happen between 2040 and 2080 are fake.

It is simply untrue to suggest that Ireland’s native population will decline as a result of Project Ireland 2040.’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

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