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Population predictions highlight serious trouble ahead – Reilly

2 November, 2015

Sinn Féin Senator, Kathryn Reilly, has stated the need for a serious conversation about Ireland’s future population projections and the underlying issues that these forecast.

Speaking today, Senator Reilly said:

“It is high time that we as a nation have a constructive debate on the issues that that are coming down the line for Ireland as we deal with both an increased young and an increased aging population.

“It is forecasted that between now and 2021 the number of people aged 65 and older will increase by 38% and is expected to almost double by 2031. Looked at through a longer lens the situation is even more worrying; there are currently 5 workers to every 3 pensioners in the State, but if the current trend continues, the ratio will be 2 workers to 1 pensioner by 2060.

“Moreover, the number of children at primary school age is also expected to rise significantly; indeed, it is projected to increase by 100,300 by 2021.

“The reason that we need such a conversation is because of extraordinary high number of young people who had to emigrate over the past number of years. In my own region, the border area, there has been a drop of 40,200 people between the ages of 16 and 34 since 2009, according to CSO figures.

“This has been mirrored by decreases in the number of young people in employment. For instance, since this government came to office, the number of people the number of people under the age of 34 in employment has fallen by 69,800.

“If this trend continues, as it is currently, then our working population will struggle to be able to provide essential services for the young and the old and we will have a complete breakdown of the intergenerational social contract.

“There needs to be serious effort on behalf of this government to remedy the situation. However, so far there has been very little effort to address the issue of youth emigration or provisions put in place to encourage our emigrant’s home.

“We have to be mindful of what demographic changes have in hold for Ireland and use these population projection figures as a warning that something needs to be done. If not we are sleepwalking into a serious social and economic catastrophe.”

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