Ireland’s ‘most disadvantaged’ area revealed

Dublin has benefited most from upturn, says report from Pobal Towns with 1,000 to 5,000 population have been worst affected

The St Mary’s Park area of Limerick City is now the most disadvantaged area in Ireland and Dublin has benefitted most from the upturn in the economy. That’s according to the latest national “deprivation index” from Pobal.

Using data from Census 2016 the index, which is based on Census 2016 results, classes areas as deprived or affluent based on specific indicators such as educational attainment, unemployment rates, lone parent ratio, and housing tenure.

It shows Dublin has fared the best over the past 10 years, being less impacted by the effects of the recession, as well as disproportionately benefitting from the recent years of recovery.

Meanwhile, towns with populations of 1,000 to 5,000 people have been the worst affected over the past 10 years, being disproportionately hit by the recession and benefitting less from the recovery than the most urban and the most rural areas.

Affluence is highest in the urban peripheries, in parts of Dublin, Galway and Cork cities, and gradually declines moving towards rural locations. The study concluded that disadvantage “is a long-term, geographically- entrenched phenomenon”.

The St John’s A electoral division encompassing the St Mary’s Park area of Limerick is classed as “extremely disadvantaged” by the index and is the most disadvantaged region in the country.

With a population of 759, the lone-parent percentage in the area is just over 77%; while just over 40% of the homes are council- rented.

Educational attainment is also extremely low, with 47% of the population having basic primary level education only. Just 2% have managed to reach third level.

The unemployment rate among men runs at just under 70% while among women it is 40%.

Five other electoral divisions around Limerick city have been classed as “very disadvantaged”. These are Ballynanty, Prospect B, Glenworth C, Rathbane, and Galvone B.

By contrast, the most affluent area in the country is the Mansion House B electoral division which takes in Merrion Square, Grafton St, and Leinster House.

Classed as “very affluent”, just 4% of its 1,311 population are lone parents with 81% having been to third-level education.

Just 3% of homes are rented from the local authority and the unemployment rate among men runs at 5% and among women at 3%.

Darndale was found to be the most disadvantaged area of the capital.

In Cork, a number of areas such as Douglas, Bishopstown and the southside area taking in Ballinlough, Ballintemple and Blackrock are classified as affluent. Knocknaheeny and Fair Hill on the north side of the city were deemed “very disadvantaged”.

With a population of a little more than 4,000, just under a third of the people living in Knocknaheeny have a primary school education only. Just one in 10 has been as far as third level.

Similarly, unemployment is a problem for the region, with 38% of men and 28% of women without work. Six out 10 people live in houses that they rent from the local authority.

In Fair Hill, with a population of just under 750, the data looks largely the same. Just one in 10 has been to third-level education, while over 40% have just a primary school education. The unemployment rate for men in the area is 32% while just more than one in five women is without a job.

In Donegal, Doocharry and the island of Árainn Mhór was found to be “very disadvantaged”. Another Gaeltacht region, Indreabhán in Galway, was also found to be “very disadvantaged”.

National president of St Vincent de Paul, Kieran Stafford, said the Pobal study confirmed that certain communities in Ireland, particularly in Limerick, are being left behind

“These communities are unable to take advantage of the recent economic improvements due to poor social infrastructure, such as a lack of public transport, broadband and key services. The data also shows that those in disadvantaged communities in urban areas, saw further increases in deprivation in the past number of years.”

“For example, between 2011 and 2016, a number of communities in Limerick have moved from being categorised as ‘very disadvantaged’ to ‘extremely disadvantaged’.”

There is a real danger, that without a concerted effort to tackle entrenched poverty, entire communities will continue to be left behind, he said.

Speaking at the launch of the study, Pobal chairman, Seamus Boland, said: “The index is a key resource to enable a targeted approach towards tackling disadvantage, by providing local analysis of the most disadvantaged areas throughout the state.

“It also allows us to look at national trends in relation to real levels of affluence and disadvantage experienced and how this changes over time and geographically.”

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, said the index has allowed the Government to “effectively target resources and services at the most disadvantaged” and is a vital tool for many government departments.


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