Ireland Says Immigrants Make It Fastest Growing EU Population

Ireland says immigrants make it fastest-growing EU population

18 December 2007, 16:23 CET

(DUBLIN) – Ireland's population is at its highest for nearly 150 years and the fastest-growing in the EU thanks to an influx of new immigrants and returning emigrants, official estimates showed on Tuesday.

In the year to April 2007, the population grew by 2.5 percent to an estimated 4.34 million people.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) told AFP that the estimates indicated Ireland now has its highest population since the census of 1861.

It is the third successive year in which Ireland has recorded an annual population increase of over two percent.

Ireland had traditionally been a country of emigration until the so-called Celtic Tiger economic boom in recent years began to attract increasing numbers of immigrants seeking jobs.

Nearly two-thirds of the population increase of 106,100 in the year to last April was accounted for by migration, with the remaining one-third due to natural population increase.

The CSO said the total number of immigrants into the country during the year was 109,500, up almost 2,000 on the previous year and substantially higher than for any other year since it began keeping migration figures in 1987.

The number of emigrants also rose to 42,200 with the result that net migration fell from a record high of 71,800 in the year to April 2006 to 67,300.

Some 48 percent of immigrants during the year came from the 12 new EU accession states which joined in 2004 and 2006.

“Many more arrivals come from Poland than from any other country. In 2006, there were 94,000 arrivals from Poland, and 22,000 from the UK, the next largest country,” the CSO said.

“Within the accession group in 2006, 67 percent were Polish, 12 percent Lithuanian, eight percent Slovakian, six percent Latvian, with the remaining seven percent coming from the other six states.”

More than half of immigrants were aged 25-44 while a further 28 percent were aged 15-24.

Approximately one in ten of the immigrants were children under the age of 15.