May 2012

So the government announce this evening that the DDDA is to be wound up after 15 years in operation and that responsibility for the area will be transferred to Dublin City Council, in the person of the Dublin City Manager. How ironic? Twenty five years ago when the CHDDA (the pre-cursor of the DDDA with many of the same personalities involved in the early days) were established, the general discourse, in common with most of the neo-liberal gospel being preached at the time, was that the local authority could not be trusted to do the job and should have power over this area removed from them.  While they may not have been particularly efficient in sparking development nor particularly astute with dealing with the private sector, they certainly could not have been accused of the litany of mismanagement that we are now hearing the DDDA were responsible for. Interesting too that we are being told that what happened was due to a lack of ‘corporate governance’ or (Submission by Executive Board to Minister for EHLG, January 2010) rather that anything more sinister that public representatives and agents have been accused of over the last few years.


What is most important is why has it taken so long for action to be taken? Granted Prof Niamh Brennan was appointed as Chair of the Board in March 2009 to deal with some of the problems and reported to Government on them, but the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and announcement by the Government tonight comes four or five years after a lot of people were questioning what was going on in the Authority? In the late 1990’s, access to any sort of information on the activities of the DDDA – a public agency after all – was almost impossible to come by. In 2008, a number of serious questions in relation to the Authority were raised in my book Dublin Docklands Reinvented (Dublin: Four Courts Press). For example, how could one agency simultaneously act as co-developer and planning authority on the one site (Irish Glass Bottle site)? Could the government not see the potential problems? Highly respected and experienced journalists were also raising these questions and others about the activities of the Authority at the time. For example why did Brian Cowen sanction an increase in the capacity of the authority to borrow even more money when it was obvious that they were stepping way beyond their remit and gambling with the public finances? It is no secret that along with the issues already in the public domain about the relationship between the DDDA and Anglo-Irish Bank, other projects within the area were also promoted, developed and implemented by an overly tight network of closely connected individuals where there was at the very least serious conflicts of interest.

As I think about my experiences researching the docklands development since the late 1990s, it strikes me that many of the community activists in East Wall and surroundings must be laughing tonight. For years, they have called for greater transparency in the operations of the Authority and when they questioned or objected to particular decisions, they were fobbed off as ‘naysayers’. The Government decision tonight is symbolic because it is the final nail in the coffin to a project that represented the best and worst of the Irish experience over the last decade. While it achieved many good outcomes and radically altered the face of this large part of Dublin City, how ironic that after 25 years, it is the local authority who gets the last laugh!

Niamh Moore

If there was trend that sums up the excesses of the Celtic Tiger bubble this is it: between 1991-2011, for every 1000 new households, 1,493 housing units were built; for every 1000 new people added to the population, 874 housing units were built.

According the Dept of Environment data between January 1991 and December 2010 there were 933,404 housing units built in Ireland.

As recorded in the Census 2011, between April 1991 and April 2011, households grew by 625,124; the population grew by 1,062,533 in the same period.

Growth in housing stock, households and population 1991-2011

Even accounting for obsolescence and replacement (approx 72,000 units based on the difference between housing stock change in the 91/11 censuses and total constructed units), we were building way in excess of demand, hence the high level of present oversupply.

Rob Kitchin

The CSO have released the age profile data from Census 2011.  They have produced a nice booklet providing some summary analysis.  We have produced a few interactive data visualisations of the data on AIRO.  Here are a summary of some of the trends.

The population as a whole is ageing and all age cohorts increased in size with the exception of 19-24 year olds.  This is partly to do with recent emigration but is more reflective of a low birth rate in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  The birth rate in 1980 was 74,064.  In 1994, the lowest rate and presently aged 17-18, it was 48,255.  In 2010 it was 76,762.  In other words, this is a small cohort working its way up the population pyramid.

This pattern is not universal.  Cork city, Galway city and Limerick city all have quite high populations aged 18-30, reflective of high student numbers.  There is a noticeable drop age 30+ as people move out the city at family formation age.  This is also evident in the relatively low rates of children in these areas.

There has been a large increase of 17.9% (2006-09) to 356,329 in children aged 0-4.  This increase was experienced everywhere, but was particularly high in the suburbs and commuting counties.  For example, there has been a 72% increase in 0-4 aged children in Fingal between 2002-2011.  Similarly, there has been a growth (12%) in 5-12 year olds.  However, this age group dropped in number in Cork City and Limerick City, and the other cities for secondary school age children.  This is partly due to the lower birth rates in the late 1990s/early 2000s working its way through, but also migration of families out of the city centres.  Interestingly, there has been a 50% increase in the number of 0-4 year old children living in apartments (just over 20,000 overall).  There has also been a slight drop in the rate of 0-4 year old children living in one parent families to 15.4% (19.1% for 5-12).

There was a 14.4% increase to 535,393 in the number of people over the age of 65 in the state, with 389 over the age of 100.  The over 65s constitute 11.7% of the population (one of the lowest rates in the EU – average is 16%).

Despite the strong growth in children, the average age in the state has increased slightly to 36.1.  There is a slight variation around the country, with the average age being 38.7 in Cork City and 32.9 in Fingal, reflective of the large number of family units in the latter.  The west has a slightly higher average age than the east, and rural areas are slightly higher than urban areas.  There are just three counties with falling average ages – Laois, Cavan and Longford, due to strong in-migration and natural increase.

Given the number of births and the declining death rate, the age dependency ratio (the ratio of children under the age of 14 and adults over 65 to the working age population of 15-64) has risen from 45.8% in 2006 to 49.3%.  Given that children are for the most part dependent until at least 18, it is clear that the dependency ratio is for all intents and purposes well over 50%.  In other words, over 50% of the population are largely dependent on the remaining population for some level of support.  The youth dependency rate is 31.9% and the old age rate is 17.4%.  Rural counties tend to have higher old age dependency rates, for example, Mayo, Leitrim and Cavan, due to younger migration to urban areas.  Meath and Laois have high youth dependency rates, with Cork city and Dublin city having the lowest.

Finally, there are slightly more women in the state then men, with the lowest ratio on record of 981 men/1000 women.  The profile varies across the country, with slightly more men in rural areas between the ages of 20 and 70 and in urban areas under the age of 20.  After the age of 20 there are slightly more women in urban areas due to migration patterns.  After 70, women outnumber men in both rural and urban areas.

Rob Kitchin

This morning AIRO released a new interactive mapping module that maps the catchments of all the universities and six of the IOTs using Irish Times school feeder data 2009-2011.  The module is available here and the talk from HEA conference in the Aviva Stadium is here – HEA Talk 2012 2.pptx.  The maps below are the 7 universities and 6 selected IoTs.  What the maps show is that no one institution has a truly national catchment, with the majority of students coming from the immediate regional area.  The dots are schools.  On the interactive version, if you click on the school it will provide information relating to how it feeds into the HE system.  The powerpoint also gives some basic demographic information on future demographic demand – it is clear that the HEIs are going to come under huge pressure as the present 0-14 age group works its way through the education system (demand is set to increase by c.30% over the next two decades).


Rob Kitchin, Eoghan McCarthy and Justin Gleeson

I would like to draw your attention to the RSA Irish Branch conference:


 ESRI, Dublin. Tuesday 5th June 2012

Opening Address: Ms. Jan O’Sullivan T.D. (TBC) – Minister of State DOCLG

Keynote Speaker: Peter Mehlbye – Director ESPON Coordination Unit – Luxembourg

Registration fee: 50 Euro including lunch.

Online Registration at:

For full program and conference updates see:

For further information:


AIRO has put up a new interactive map of where people living in Dublin were born.  One of the three maps was carried in today’s Irish Times.  To see all three variables – Born in Dublin, Born elswhere in Ireland, and Born overseas – visit AIRO version.  Static versions of the maps below.  On the interactive versions, if you click on an area you’ll get a bit more info.  The data is at ED level and is part of the Census 2011 undertaken by the CSO.

We do not, at this stage, know the counties in Ireland that some Dublin resident’s were born in or which countries oversees born residents were born in.  Also, it is important note the difference between location of birth and nationality.  The largest number of foreign born residents living in Ireland are from the UK, but over half of them have Irish nationality.  The largest nationality other than Irish living in Ireland is from Poland.

The maps show that there are parts of the city were non-Irish born people constitute over 50% of the population, especially the north inner city; and that there are some parts of the city where over 80% of the population are born and bred in Dublin.  No part of the city has more than 34% of the population being made up of people born elsewhere in Ireland, with the largest concentration in the D4 area and surrounds.

Born in Dublin (Census 2011)

Born elsewhere in Ireland (Census 2011)


Born abroad (note does not mean not Irish national; Census 2011)

Eoghan McCarthy and Rob Kitchin

As reported in the New York Times and elsewhere, Hobbs, New Mexico, has been chosen as the site for a new purpose built ghost town.  The $1 billion euro venture will be a large urban research site, having no residents, and will be used to ‘test everything from intelligent traffic systems and next-generation wireless networks to automated washing machines and self-flushing toilets.’  The 15 square mile development will form the ‘Center for Innovation, Technology and Testing’.  The aim is to become a locus for smart city research and to attract significant R&D investment into the area that will use the facility to develop and test their innovations in city infrastructure, vehicles, domestic and commercial appliances and so on.

Could we use our ghost estates to foster such economic development?  Partially, maybe.  On the negative side, ours are already largely built and would need a lot of retrofitting, are too small in scale for city-wide testing, and nearly all have residents living on them or adjacent to them.  Still, it might be possible to use one or part of one for smart homes/living research.  An idea that someone might want to explore, perhaps.

Rob Kitchin

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