November 2012

Following on from yesterday’s post regarding the 2012 National Housing Development Survey concerning unfinished estates we took a further look at the data and have produced an interactive data visualization of the comparing counties spreadsheet.  This spreadsheet concerns the 2,973 estates surveyed, not the 1,770 estates that the DECLG say now constitute unfinished estates.  Because we don’t have data that relates specifically to these 1,770 estates we can’t disentangle them from the 2,973 surveyed. With respect to the types of property, the data refers to all units started and planned for, rather than simply started.  We have tried to tidy up the infrastructure data so that it relates to units actually started as opposed to those started and planned.  We have also set out the rates of occupancy, vacancy and construction per county, and the extent to which planning permissions have expired.

unf est data viz

Eoghan McCarthy and Rob Kitchin


Yesterday Minister Jan O’Sullivan published the 2012 National Housing Development Survey.  The headline story from this is that the number of estates categorised as unfinished has fallen from 2,876 in 2011 to 1,770 in 2012, and that decisions will be taken in the new year on which estates are commercially unviable and need to have parts of them demolished (especially in the midlands and border region).

Along with the report, the Department of Environment also published the data they used in the report in three separate files comparing counties, profiling individual counties, and profiling individual estates.

So, have the number of unfinished estates fallen by 1,106 and is the problem of unfinished estates receding?

Technically, yes.  But this is where I link to the title of this post.  The drop is principally because the DECLG have changed the definition of an unfinished estate.  The definition used in 2010 and 2011 refers to estates that have issues of vacancy and oversupply as well as outstanding development works.  In 2012 the definition refers only to estates where there is outstanding development work.  At one level, this change makes sense.  The 1,770 estates that need development work are the most problematic.  At the same time, the issue of vacancy and oversupply has not gone away, affect the overall market, and have consequence re. anti-social behaviour, sense of place and community, etc.  Indeed, on the old definition the number of estates surveyed rose in 2012 to 2,973.

This is not the only bit of being creative with the numbers.  Oddly, the figures both work for and against the government.

For the government

Overall occupancy: the overall level of occupancy in unfinished is reported as 91,692 – this is occupancy across the 2,973 estates surveyed not the 1,770 we’re told now constitute unfinished estates.  It is useful to have the data for the 2,973 estates but it also needs to be reported specifically for the 1,770.

Complete and vacant units: the overall level of vacancy is reported as 16,881, down from 18,638 in 2011 – again this is refers to the 2,973 estates surveyed.

Vacancy per county: the report provides a table and map of vacancy per 1,000 households for each county.  This actually refers to vacancy in unfinished estates, not overall residential vacancy in a county.  Making sense of vacancy in unfinished estates needs to be contextualised with respect to overall vacancy and oversupply, not simply the number of households.  The housing market is not simply unfinished estates and the data as presented is misleading.

Against the government

Services: In the comparing counties data file the reported figures for services are all shockingly bad.  Across the 2,973 estates (again there is no specific data for the 1,770) 57% of units have incomplete roads, 40.1% have incomplete paths, 42.5% have no lighting, 41.1% have no potable (drinking) water, 39.3% have no storm water drainage, 41.3% have no water waste (sewage), with 91,693 families living on these estates.  Actually these figures are grossly overstated because of how they are calculated and the numbers are much less.  They have been calculated against all housing units that had original planning permission, not those that were started.  There are two problems here.  First, planning permission has expired for 24,864 units, second why calculate for units that don’t exist?  The fact that 60,055 phantom houses don’t have potable water, and these are included in the rate of units that don’t have potable water, doesn’t make any sense.  The rates are actually much smaller, though nonetheless are a significant problem on many estates.

What are my headline stories from the report?

I have two main observations from the report.  The first is that 1,100 of the estates are in a ‘seriously problematic condition‘.  Families in these estates are living on building sites.  Second is that only 250 estates (8.5% of 1,770) are active – that is, the developer is on site and is undertaking works.  In 2010 it was 429, in 2011 it was 244.  That means that 1,520 of the estates that require development work are not in receipt of it and given that developers have gone bust they are not likely to receive it in the short to mid-term. The number of underconstruction units in 2011 was 17,872 and in 2012 it was 17,032.  All but 38 of the reduction is ‘nearly complete’ units being fitted out.  Anything half-built is staying half-built.  In the vast majority of cases then, unfinished estates are being left to wither on the vine, the great majority of which are in a ‘seriously problematic condition’.

To be fair to Minister O’Sullivan she fully recognizes these issues.  On the other hand, the actions of the government are painfully slow, some would say pathetic.  As we’ve argued before, the policy of Site Resolution Plans (SRPs) is a minimal cost, minimal effort approach to unfinished estates that give the impression of policy-at-work, but is really a sticking plaster that tries to stop a problem getting worse before the ‘surgeon’ in the form of the market re-appears to fix things.  In the present and foreseeable property market that ‘surgeon’ is not going to appear any time soon.  In the meantime, families are left living on developments that are substandard with huge negative equity that locks them in.

Five years after the property crash started to plummet its time unfinished estates problem was tackled properly, rather than simply messing about with the numbers.  That’s not to say the numbers are not important – we need to know what is going on (preferably with non-creative and meaningless data) – but what we really need is action for the families living on these estates.

Rob Kitchin

Earlier this month Deputy Willie Penrose introduced the Environment and Public Health (Wind Turbines) Bill 2012 into the Dáil. This follows the previous introduction by Senator John Kelly of the Wind Turbines Bill 2012 into the Seanad which failed to progress past second stage.

The history of non-government, private member’s bills would suggest that this latest legislation is largely a political gesture with little chance of advancing into law. The current Government is a strong proponent of renewable energy and is currently negotiating with the British government to boost renewable exports to the United Kingdom. However, it does reflect the growing public and political unease in some rural areas with regard to the increasing number of planning applications for new wind farm developments.

The main feature of the Bill is to establish mandatory minimum setback distances between proposed wind turbines and residential dwellings. These are:

  1. 500 metres, where the height of the wind turbine is up to 50 metres
  2. 1,000 metres, where the height of the wind turbine is up to 100 metres
  3. 1,500 metres, where the height of the wind turbine is up to 150 metres
  4. 2,000 metres, where the height of the wind turbine is greater than 150 metres

Note: Maps now updated with additional 750 metres analysis.

Working with the research team at AIRO, we thought it would be an interesting exercise to examine what such setback distances would mean in practice. Each of the maps below illustrates the extent of the land area in the Republic of Ireland that would remain following the introduction of these exclusion buffers.

Map 1: Set-back > 500m, where the height of the wind turbine is up to 50 metres

Additional Map: Set-back > 750m


Map 2: Set-back > 1,000m, where the height of the wind turbine is up to 100 metres

Map 3: Set-back > 1,500m, where the height of the wind turbine is up to 150 metres

Map 4: Set-back > 2,000m, where the height of the wind turbine is greater than 150 metres

In the case of the 500m setback, just under a quarter (23.75%) of the total land area of the country would remain available for new wind farm development. However, this drops to 13.8% for the 750 metre setback, 9.4% for the 1,000 metre setback, 5.2% for the 1,500 setback and 3% for the 2,000m setback. The vast majority of new wind turbines currently proposed in Ireland are between 100-150m in height. Therefore, in effect, the implementation of these setback distances would result in 95% of the country being excluded for the development of new onshore wind farms.

It is clear from the maps below that majority of the land which would remain available for development is located in mountainous regions, largely along the western seaboard. While these regions do generally have the highest wind speeds, they are also some of our most important sensitive landscapes and tourist assets. They are also the regions where there is the heaviest concentration of important EU designated nature conservation sites. Development in these protected sites is governed by the ‘Precautionary Principle’ where the threshold for permitting new development is set at an extremely high bar. In fact, taking the 1,500 metre setback distance, just 3.25% of the remaining land area lies outside of an EU designated conservation site.

Ireland remains critically dependent on imported fossil fuels and, given energy security and climate change concerns, it is in the vital national interest that we progressively wean ourselves off oil and gas imports.  In the short to medium-term, the achievement of Ireland’s renewable energy targets will require a massive ramping up of onshore wind farms. Currently there is approximately 2,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity in 176 wind farms on the island of Ireland (c.1,100 wind turbines). The Irish Government has an ambitious 2020 target of 40% renewable energy production which will, in broad terms, entail the construction of approximately 6,000 MW. This level of onshore wind energy development will require in the order of 3,000 additional wind turbines. Off-course, post-2020 Ireland will quickly have to move beyond 40% renewable energy production.

Allied to this there is also an ambitious export agenda and Irish Wind Energy Association recently called for a joint government policy to facilitate the achievement of at least 3,000MW of on-shore wind energy to be identified as a minimum deliverable export potential for Ireland in advance of 2020. The proposed “Greenwire” project, which is currently at pre-application stage with An Bord Pleanála, proposes 3,000MW in 40 wind farms throughout the midlands using the world’s largest wind turbines. Mainstream Renewable Power’s “Energy Bridge” project proposes the installation of a further 5,000MW.

There may be a perception that Ireland is full of wide open spaces with plenty of uninhabited regions capable of accommodating new wind farms and associated grid connections. The reality is, however, that Ireland has a highly diffuse settlement pattern and rural Ireland is increasingly becoming a contested space. EU environmental law mandates that a high level of protection is afforded to many remote wilderness areas pushing new wind energy development into ever greater proximity to human settlement. Ireland has an abundant natural wind resource with the potential to deliver clean green energy to sustain our economy and society. However, in order to ensure competing interests are accommodated greater long-term strategic spatial planning is required. The recently published Strategy for Renewable Energy: 2012 – 2020 sets out a series of high-level actions to pump-prime the renewable energy sector. However, it fails to address these pressing and competing issues facing rural Ireland in any meaningful way.

Gavin Daly, Ainhoa González and Justin Gleeson

Since the launch of Census 2011 the AIRO mapping team have developed a series of interactive mapping tools to visualise the results on a national and local authority/regional authority level (see here). This has been a joint project with the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and to date has been very successful with a high number of users viewing and interacting with this publically funded dataset. The aim of this collaboration was to improve access to the results of Census 2011 and thereby make a contribution towards improving evidence informed planning in Ireland. Over the last couple of weeks the team have been working on the recently released Place of Work, School or College Census of Anonymised Records (POWSCAR) dataset.

This dataset contains 2.78 million records where the location of the place of work, school or college was coded for each person on the basis of the reply that was given to Question 34 on  the census form: “What is the Full Name and Address of your place of work, school or college”.

Using this information the CSO matched the employer/school name and address against addresses on the An Post GeoDirectory. In the case of workers, where the coder could not find an exact match they coded to a near match if they could find a GeoDirectory address on the same street or in the same town as the address stated on the form. In the case of students, an exact match was only accepted for the school or college address. The coordinates retrieved from the GeoDirectory match were then linked back to the place of work, school or college Electoral District (ED) and Town and Small Area by superimposing digital boundaries. In some cases it was not possible to match the destination of the worker/student with GeoDirectory, this was a result of a very poor return of address information or the workers destination was classed as being ‘mobile’.  The final dataset is effectively an origin-destination matrix that links the place of residence of the worker/student, either at Electoral Division (ED) or Small Area (SA) level, to the work/school/college destination of the worker/student at the ED, SA and 250m grid level. The dataset contain a wealth of information about each work trip such as age, gender, industry of employment, education level, mode of transport, household occupancy status, one-off housing indicator, socio-economic group etc. Similar data is available about those attending schools/college although not as detailed and much of the data is compressed for disclosure reasons – we will do a further piece on this in a couple of weeks.

In 2011, places of work, school or college with an address in Northern Ireland were also coded in the same way by utilising the NI Pointer address database. NI County, Ward, Towns (2001) and 2001 Census output areas were derived by superimposing digital boundaries. This is a big step forward in understanding the cross-border travel to work catchments that exist in Ireland and the CSO should be commended for realising the benefits of going this extra step in the development of this dataset. Where the person indicated a work, school or college address abroad these records were coded to a specific code to indicate that the person was working abroad i.e. outside Ireland or Northern Ireland.

Due to the level of detail available within the dataset it is not as ‘open’ as the rest of the Census 2011. As there are some minor risks to data disclosure, use of the dataset is restricted and is only available to bone fide researchers who are approved by CSO and signed up as Officers of Statistics for the duration of the research they propose to undertake. A key point on all of this is that All material published from POWSCAR must be approved in advance by CSO.

The following table gives a summary of the POWSCAR address coding process:

  Students Workers Total %
Persons in private households or establishmentsenumerated and resident in Ireland 1,013,292 1,770,644 2,783,936 100.0
Place of work, school or college address (Q34)was matched to a GeoDirectory address point 929,154 1,362,742 2,291,896 82.3
Place of work, school or college address (Q34)blank or uncodeable 78,956 147,251 226,207 8.1
No fixed place of work indicated at Q34 148,177 148,177 5.3
Works from home indicated in Q34 106,055 106,055 3.8
Place of work, school or college address (Q34)was matched to a NI Pointer database addresspoint 3,117 6,419 9,536 0.3
Place of work, school or college address (Q34)overseas 1,447   0.1
Home school indicated at Q34 618   0.0


To get started on work with the POWSCAR dataset the AIRO team have developed travel to work catchments for all 22 Gateways and Hubs and made these accessible via an interactive mapping tool. Each map is based on the percentage of workers within each ED that work within the selected settlement boundary (boundaries based on CSO Settlements). Our analysis here is only based on the workfore where we have information on the destination of workers and therefore excludes those classed as Mobile workers (148,177 or 10% of workers) and workers with an uncodable or Blank destination (147,251 or 9.9%). Users can select a settlement to view the extent of the catchment and then click on an ED to get information on the number/percentage of workers employed within the selected settlement.

The map below details the extent of the travel to work catchment for the Dublin City settlement boundary, an area of about 317 sqkm and including all major employment locations in the local authorities of Dublin City, South County Dublin and DLR. The settlement boundary does not however include many of the large employment locations in south Fingal such as Dublin Airport, Swords, Malahide and Portmarnock. In total there are 457,046 people with a work destination in the Dublin Settlement boundary. Of these, 74% also reside within the Dublin City settlement and 26% reside outside the settlement boundary highlighting the high levels of inward commuting. Of the workers who reside within the Dublin City settlement boundary a total of 12.5% (48,801) commute out of the settlement to employmant destinations.

Red areas on the map highlight where >50% of the workers in an ED are employed within the settlement boundary. The orange band represents areas where over 30% of workers in an ED commute to the Dublin settlement boundary and extend to towns such as Drogheda, Ashbourne, Maynooth, Newbridge, Blessington and Wicklow town. The pale orange band is  based on 10% to 30% of workers and extends much further towards the Mid East, Midlands and parts of the Border region with towns such as Kells, Navan, Mullingar, Portarlington, Portlaoise, Gorey and Dundalk.

To access the tool and view the different catchments for all Gateways and Hubs please click here.  In the map viewer, click on an area to get specific information on that ED.

A link to the tool is also available on our census mapping home page on the AIRO site where you can also access other mapping tools developed over the last number of months. View Census Mapping home page

This is the first step at mapping the travel to work catchments for the main settlements in Ireland. We’re hoping to do some additional work on job’s desnity within settlements and also roll out catchments for other towns. Happy to take suggestions on what is useful for planners, policy makers and general public who would find this information of use.

Justin Gleeson & Eoghan McCarthy

There was a fairly lengthy piece in the Saturday Weekend Review of the Irish Times about the philanthropic developer and businessman Niall Mellon.  I have a lot of time and admiration for Mellon’s energy, entrepreneurship and housing development works in South Africa.  However, his views about the causes of the crash and the role of developers in Ireland’s woes seems way off-beam and, at times, contradictory.  On the one hand, developers apparently played little or no role in the collapse and have been the victims of a witchhunt and, on the other, they have a duty of shared responsibility to pay back debts.  Here’s a selection of what he had to say:

“What happened” was the collapse of the Irish banks in 2008. One day he was a developer worth more than €150 million; the next he had nothing. “The night the banks collapsed I went to bed a hero and woke up a villain. That’s what the Irish State did.”

Two years after what he passionately describes as a “witch-hunt” against developers, he surrendered his Mount Merrion home on five acres to Nama. “And – what people couldn’t understand – I also handed over another dozen properties I owned, unencumbered, with no bank debt whatsoever, any of which would have paid my mortgage for several years.” …

“Irish people need to remember there was no property crash in Ireland; there was a bank collapse that caused a property crash. Two different things. Fianna Fáil were desperate to blame anyone except themselves and heaped pain on developers. It was an absolutely disgraceful effort by the then government, and it hasn’t been much better under this one. But this year Frank Daly, the current chairman of Nama, came out and said it was the banks, not the developers. So developers need to be fairly judged now. Everyone is forgetting developers only built to satisfy demand.”

The last paragraph is the one that many people will have problems with.  The conventional reading would be that the banks collapsed because they had over-extended themselves by lending finance to developers in a bubble and oversupplied market (unlike elsewhere where banks were caught in the maelstrom caused by the complex deriatives of the US subprime market).  Given that developers sought this finance, to intimate that they are an entirely innocent part of the banking collapse or that the fault lies simply with banking practice and government policy appears disingenuous.

It was developers who drove property development and borrowed the money for ambitious and risky property schemes; it was developers that contributed donations to political parties and strongly lobbied government about laissez-faire planning and finance; it was developers who drove up land prices and helped egg-on property prices; it was developers that flooded the market with excess housing and commercial property; it was developers who build estates compromised with poor building materials and weak safety standards. Developers did not only build to satisfy demand – they created huge oversupply with respect to residential and commeercial property which still exists and will do for quite some time in many parts of the country. And commercial property has been as much the problem as houses and apartments.  The legacy of unfinished estates, zombie hotels, ghostly retail parks and office developments, pyrite-infected homes, and a reading of Breakfast with Anglo or Anglo Republic or Ireland’s House Party or Namawinelake attests to all of this.

Admittedly, not all developers were the same and they ran their businesses in different ways and with varying ethos.  Nevertheless, as a collective group developers do share responsibility in the collapse in the country’s fortunes along with banks and government.  The idea that developers are simply innocent victims of the crash is delusional and smacks of an attempt to re-write the narrative of history so that they are more favourably judged.  It simply doesn’t wash.

Mellon himself does seem to accept this notion of shamed blame and responsibility.  He continues:

“I wanted to accept my share of the responsibility. Part of that was moving out of a big house. Part of it was keeping unencumbered assets and giving them to Nama.

“There has to be a shared responsibility and a shared approach to solving this. So if you borrowed money you sell your assets to pay back as much of that loan as you can, and when you’ve done that you should be set free, in recognition of the fact that there was a systemic collapse of the financial governance system with the Irish banks.”

He could have opted for “the easy choice” of bankruptcy in the UK but decided against it. Pride was one factor; another was a sense that he could do a better job disposing of assets than a receiver. He has also managed to pay “95 per cent of debts due to a few hundred small creditors. So that’s nearly finished,” he says.

And fair dues to him.  Unlike other developers who have run for the hills or have sought to shift assets or fight Nama, Mellon has seemingly got on with addressing his various obligations.  Having read the piece, I’m inclined to try and judge him fairly, but at the same time I’m not prepared to accept many of his assertions with respect to the innocence of developers in creating the conditions for the crash or to rewrite history.

Rob Kitchin

Watching from afar, I have been interested in a number of the debates taking place about Dublin over the last number of years. The most recent example of such is the Reinventing Dublin series currently running in The Irish Times. The focus of this series, as with discussion taking place through other forums (e.g., the city intersections talks), is about making Dublin a better city. The series puts forward a number of interesting suggestions such as the library on College Green (Something discussed previously on this blog), and touches on some pressing social issues, such as is illustrated by Fr. Peter McVerry’s comments on homelessness and Fintan O’Toole’s analysis of the social structure of the city.

In as much as it is lacking, the series also points to the need for a greater level of engagement with the wider structural issues that influence the city. That so little attention within each sub-topic is oriented towards solutions that go beyond the accepted largely market-driven norms of urban development seems somewhat of a short-coming. The affording of less attention to alternative approaches to the delivery of housing than the possibility of Elm Park being used as a film-set is a case in point. Can this really be the best solution for an under-occupied development? Indeed, the only mention of housing in the top ten ways to make Dublin Better put forward by The Irish Times is the possible role of Georgian Dublin being returned to residential use. Another piece in the series briefly touches on how this might occur, but it is largely focused on the impact that shifting market forces may have. The desire to see improvement to the physical fabric of the city is understandable, but this also requires some reflection as to what processes might actually bring this about in a more socially equitable and viable manner. Pointedly, it is through the mention of a seemingly mundane example – that of the need for public toilets – that some of the core structural issues become highlighted, if only implicitly. The mention of ‘anti-social behaviour’ here is noteworthy and points to a need to examine the broader factors which serve to influence everyday life in the city. Overall, however, there is little focus upon the societal structures which serve to produce the daily reality of the city or, indeed, how the city itself serves to reproduce or reinforce that same reality.

Widening the discussion out a bit, one of the striking features of current debates and initiatives in Dublin is the focus on the city centre as a distinct and almost isolated entity. While this focus on the city centre is somewhat inevitable given it is the part of the city that citizens can readily identify with, it seems to point to some problematic tendencies about the form that debate is taking at present. From a broader perspective, it is difficult to attend to the needs of the city centre without thinking holistically about the wider city area, if not the city region. Furthermore, the focus on the city centre has, in recent years, become increasingly oriented towards the assumed cultural and social values of the middle classes. This perspective, which was made explicit by the Dublin City Architect, Ali Grehan at a recent TED talk, is a follow-on from the promotion of the supposed virtues of the middle classes that became a hallmark of urban development during the boom years. While on one level there has been a desire to attract ‘talent’ to the city centre so as, it is thought, to strengthen the economic base of the city, such rhetoric also draws upon the notion that that middle class residents will help to strengthen the social fabric of a particular area. That this is being promoted without any real engagement with what its role might be in the creation of a better city seems somewhat perplexing. One needs only to look at the example of Tower Hamlets in London to see that location of different social groups within one geographical area does not necessarily lead to any form of upward mobility or ‘trickle-down’ of wealth. Social-mix as a target in and of itself cannot be looked at as a solution for the problems of the city. This is not, it should be stated, an argument against change in the city centre or the promotion of good design in infill developments discussed in the afore-mentioned TED discussion, but more about the manner of delivery of such.

When viewed from a broader perspective, the focus on the city centre as opposed to the wider city is not all that surprising. Indeed, many of the initiatives currently taking place (such as Dublin City Beta Project and Pivot Dublin) are closely aligned to Dublin City Council, whose remit is, after all, focused almost exclusively upon the city centre. From a critical perspective, the structure of local government has very real implications for the context in which debates take place and the manner in which initiatives become implemented. Arguably, the current structures leave little alternative but for policy makers to think predominantly of their own location without significant consideration of what its impact might be elsewhere. Furthermore, it seems somewhat inevitable that if little action is taken to address wider structural issues on a national scale, urban policy makers will do their best to achieve what they perceive is best for their particular locality. Moreover, if local authorities can have little direct impact upon services such as transport and education, it perhaps follows that the focus will be placed on ‘soft’ factors as a means of achieving change. In short, planning (in the wider sense of the term) is being left to deal with consequences of wider structural issues, one of which is an imbalance in the planning system itself. While there are many initiatives out there which seem very positive in their approach (eg; the recent dublin tagged event), there is space for discussion of how exactly they will come together to improve Dublin in the long-term.

There seems to be urgent need for wider debate about what exactly it is we mean by making Dublin a better city, and, indeed, a broadening of the debate to include an analysis of the social, political, and economic factors that would be necessary to bring about positive change in the city. The approach of envisaging an ideal urban scenario – both in terms of urban form and social life – without confronting the forces which go to produce such seems somewhat insufficient. Ideas of making a better city necessitate an idea of the form of society that is desired. Lasting change in Dublin – at the scale of both the centre and the suburbs – can only be achieved through an active and critical engagement with the forces that shape it.

Philip Lawton

The AIRO team have just updated all local authority (34) and regional authority (8 – new RA modules will be developed in due to course to reflect recent changes) mapping modules with the latest results from the 2011 Pobal HP Deprivation Index. Users now have access to both the full suite of census variables and also this new dataset that allows the easy visualisation of relative affluence and disadvantage across local areas. 

The map below is an example of the distribution of relative disadvantage and affluence across parts of Cory City. Areas (SAs or EDs) are seperated in 8 groupings: Extremely Disadvantaged, Very Disadvantaged, Disadvantaged, Marginally Below Average, Marginally Above Average, Affluent, Very Affluent and Extremely Affluent.  To view the data within individual AIRO Mapping modules please click here and select the LA or RA you are interested in from the drop down list. The Pobal HP Deprivation Index can be loaded by clicking ‘Change Data’ and then seleting the indicator from the bottom of the list.


The 2011 Pobal HP Deprivation Index is the latest in a serious of deprivation indices developed by Trutz Haase and Jonathan Pratschke and funded by Pobal. Based on the just recently released data from the 2011 Census of Population, the index shows the level of overall affluence and deprivation at the level of 18,488 Small Areas in 2006 and 2011, using identical measurement scales. The index reveals the dramatic decline in relative affluence and deprivation, represented in the fall of the mean index score from 0 in 2006 to -7.0 in 2011.

Details on the author’s website suggests that from a comparison of  the relative changes in the HP Index Scores between 2006 and 2011, “we can conclude that the dominance of Ireland’s urban environs has continued unabated, albeit in a differentiated manner. In stark contrast to the 1991 to 2006 period, the previous growth belts, particularly those located at the outer periphery of the Greater Dublin Region have seen their fortunes most strongly reversed, whilst the five city areas have withstood the economic downturn comparatively well. Ireland as a whole has seen a decline in the Absolute HP Index Score by 6.6 points. By comparison, Dublin City has declined by 3.8 points, Cork City by 4.1 points, Limerick City by 6.2, Galway City by 4.9 and Waterford City by 5.8 points. Overall, the waning tide has lowered all boats, but the cities have declined less than the rest of the country.

In contrast, the counties most affected by the decline are the distant commuter counties outside the Dublin Region. Kildare, Meath, Wexford, Roscommon, Cavan, Laois and Offaly are the counties that have experienced the most significant decline, as expressed in the largest reduction in their Relative HP Index Scores.”

For more information on the development of the index and to download the results please visit


Individual AIRO LA and RA Mapping Modules including Pobal HP Deprivation: click here for access

To view the index on a national basis please visit the main Pobal Maps website, click here for access

Justin Gleeson

The latest CSO Industrial Production & Turnover figures appear frightening. Production for manufacturing Industries for September 2012 was 13.9% lower than in August 2012. On an annual basis production for September 2012 decreased by 13.7% when compared with September 2011. The seasonally adjusted volume of industrial production for Manufacturing Industries for the quarter period July 2012 to September 2012 was 4.5% lower than in the preceding quarter (see above and table 4). But the most worrying change was in basic pharmaceutical products and preparations with a decrease of 35.2% on August.

This fall is likely to be reflected in the export figures for September or October. The figure below charts the dynamics of the seasonally adjusted volume of industrial production index and the chemicals and related products exports index (indexed to June 2005). Although the relation is far from perfect, strong falls in the industrial production index tend to be followed (sometimes with a small lag) by falls in external trade.

Is this then further evidence of the start of the impact of the patent cliff? Many drugs enjoy a period of patent protection, during which the originator company can charge a high price for its product. When the patent eventually lapses, the market is opened to generic competition which seriously reduces the value of the product. As it happens, many blockbuster drugs are coming off patent in a concentrated period between 2011 and 2013. Six of the ten main blockbuster drugs coming off patent in this period are at least partially produced in Ireland. The patent cliff is therefore expected to have a strong impact on Irish exports.

However, the expected impact is, as yet, not fully borne out in the data. A couple of month ago I interpreted the strong H1 2012 fall in Chemicals exports to the US as the first concrete evidence of the impact of the patent cliff on Irish exports (see here). This was an unusually large drop. But the July and August exports to the US are well up again from the H1 low. Although I am in no doubt that the current fall in the industrial production index is partly linked to products coming off patent, I am not convinced that this is the start of a steep downward trend. First of all, pharmaceutical industrial production and export figures tend to fluctuate strongly (see here). In November 2011 the index dropped by 25%, although then falling from a high peak in September. During the next ten month the trend was up again. Clearly the patent issue is not the only driver of production dynamics. There is a lot more going on. More importantly, recent developments in the pharmaceutical industry make me believe that the impact will be less severe than originally thought. The patent cliff was believed to have a strong impact because a number of blockbusters were due to come off patent in a concentrated period. However, companies have been fighting tooth and nail to retain their valuable IP and some were successful in their application for patent extensions. One example is Enbrel, a 7.5bn blockbuster, that was due to come off patent in 2012. As a result, not all patents are expiring in the concentrated period. Such developments may result in a more smoothed-out hill, rather than a cliff.