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Fewer Irish speakers according to Census 2016

Recent figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in November this year show that the number of people speaking Irish is declining.

Information gathered during the 2016 census revealed that as of April 2016, 1,761,420 people (39.8% of the population), aged 3 and over, said that they could speak Irish.


Out of the total amount of Irish speakers recorded, 968,777 were female and 792,643 were men. Compared to 2011, there has been a drop of 0.7% (-13,017 people).


However, of the 39.8% of people who stated they are able to speak in Irish, one in four (23.8%) of them admitted to never using it, while a further 558,608 (31.7%) expressed that they haven’t used in daily conversation or for any other reason, since leaving school.

Of the percentages of people able to speak Irish, the highest numbers were recorded in Galway County at 49%. Clare closely followed with 45.9%, with Corky County (44.9%) and Mayo (43.9%) shortly behind.

The lowest percentages were found in Dublin City at 29.2%, followed by Louth and South Dublin, both at 34.1% and Cavan at 34.6%.

The number of those who say they speak Irish less often than weekly stood at 586,535 people (33.3%) compared to the lesser percent of people who attest to speaking the language on a weekly basis, (6.3%) or 111,473 people.

While the number of daily Irish speakers stood at 73,803, representing 1.7% of the population. This was a decline of 3,382 (4.4%) on 2011.




20.2% of the total 73,803 lived in Dublin City and suburbs. This was an increase of 674 people (4.7%) since 2011. Cork, Galway and Limerick together accounted for 6,034 daily Irish speakers (8.2%).

Outside of these cities, the largest absolute numbers of daily speakers were living in An Bun Beag-Doirí Beaga (771), followed by Letterkenny (525) and Swords (487).

Daily Irish speakers in the Gaeltacht areas of Galway County and Donegal made up almost three quarters of all daily Irish speakers in Gaeltacht areas, with 9,445 (45.9%) in Galway and 5,929 (28.8%) in Donegal.

By Megan Walsh

Increase in female film production

Figures from the Irish Film Board have shown that the number of female producers involved in Irish filmmaking peaked in 2016, with 50 percent of film producing roles in 2016 undertaken by women.


This was a twenty percentage point swing from the previous year which saw just 30 percent of women involved in these production roles, while 2012 saw a mere 27 percent of films produced by females.


In the chart above we see female film producers on a par with male producers in 2016.
This increase is in line with the IFB’s Gender and Diversity Policy which intends to adopt a more inclusive breakdown of creative talent, and that ultimately a 50/50 split of gender in creative roles on and off screen is achieved.

Teresa McGrane, Deputy CEO for the Irish Film Board said, “We first noticed the divide in gender roles several years ago when we did a study regarding theatre production roles. We noticed women were few and far between in the production roles and we then carried this study over to Irish film, where we found much the same trend.

“The main problem for the first few years leading into the 2010s was that we weren’t getting applications from female producers. As a result we couldn’t make much of an impact with no applications,” Teresa said.

“So we invested in increased funding and set up a five year strategy that seeks to largely promote gender equality in film roles both on and off screen. This is largely in the form of working with production companies and funding with our public broadcast partners like RTÉ and TG4 and the BAI so that gender balance is promoted in publicly funding screen content.”

Although female film producers have greatly increased, the share of female writers and directors hasn’t changed greatly over the past few years.


Male directors and writers still greatly dominate these roles.


By Killian Dowling and Jenna Cox

Jack and Emily likely to be among top baby names again in 2017

As we come towards the end of 2017, data about trends throughout the year will begin to emerge. With this is mind we took a look at the most popular baby names in 2016, and what we expect to feature at the top this year.

In 2016, James and Emily were the most popular names. James had been the second most popular boys name for the last five years but jumped up to first place in 2016. Emily has been the most popular girls name for the last six consecutive years.

Following James, the top 5 boys’ names were Jack, Daniel, Conor and Sean. The most popularity growth has been seen with the names Louis, Lucas, Josh and Ollie. Muhammad (ranked 83), Jason (ranked 98) and Zach (ranked 97) all entered the top 100 charts after being ranked 119, 113 and 103 in 2015.

Following Emily, the top girls’ names were Grace, Ana, Lucy while Amelia and Sophie were joint fifth.


Speaking about these trends, statistician with the CSO Marie Crowley said: “I’m not surprised that James has ranked first place for 2016, as it was always in the top five since 1988 onwards, and consistently ranked second place from 2011 to 2015.

“Emily has been the most popular girls name for six years in a row now, so I’m not surprised that it came out on top again for 2016.

“It’s difficult to predict what names might be the most popular for 2017, but looking back at the most popular names over the years, they generally feature in the top five most popular names the previous years. So, it is likely that James and Emily will come out somewhere in the top five for 2017.”

In Dublin City, Emily and James were the most popular names. While in South Dublin Emily and Jack were the most popular and in Fingal, Emily and Daniel were most popular.

By Nicole McNelis

Irish Navy spent €1.25 million on Mediterranean mission in 2016

The Irish Navy has been operating military missions in the Mediterranean because thousands of refugees have drowned trying to cross to Europe.

The well-documented crisis led to the Irish Navy being deployed on a humanitarian mission but that stance has also changed. Ireland is now a part of Operation Sophia, meaning the Navy will now be authorised to stop people traffickers. Operation Sophia is a part of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy mission.

The operation targets vessels and gangs involved in human trafficking from Libya. Ireland joins Italy, Belgium, France, Germany, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom on the operation. Sinn Féin were among those opposed to Ireland joining Operation Sophia as they said it would affect Ireland’s neutrality.

2016 was an expensive year for the Irish naval vessels located in the Mediterranean. The total cost to the Defence Forces was €1.25 million in 2016 alone.


Ships LE Roisin LE James Joyce LE Samuel Beckett
Fuel €305,231 €186,246.43 €344,602.03
Provisions €36,272.72 €38,413.28 €36,746.70
Other (Eg Spares) €100,594.90 €75,493.24 €128,392.16
Total per Unit €442,098.62 €300,152.95 €509,740.89
TOTAL €1,251,992.46


The figures above, released by the Defence Forces under the Freedom of Information Act 2014, show over €836,000 was spent on fuel alone for the three vessels. The Irish Defence Forces have rescued over 17,000 refugees since the Navy was deployed to the Mediterranean over three years ago.

The LE Samuel Beckett was the most expensive ship to fund in 2016, costing over half a million euro for the year. The vessel was launched in November 2013 and cost €71 million. The LE James Joyce was the cheapest to fund for 2016 at €300,000. Each of the three vessels has weapon capabilities.

Over 2,000 people were saved in total by the LE Samuel Beckett with 50 of those saved in one rescue mission in November of this year as an overloaded rubber boat attempted to make its way from Libya to Europe. This is the second tour of the vessel as it originally began patrol in 2015 before being redeployed this year.

It is unknown how long the Irish Defence Forces will continue to operate in the Mediterranean or how much it will cost the state to keep the Navy operating in the area.

By Gavin Hyland & Louise Burne


Timeline of Tánaiste’s demise

The Irish government was on the  brink of collapse at the most crucial time in Brexit negotiations but surprisingly it was not Brexit that almost caused an early election. Louise Burne explains the timeline of events that almost brought down the Dáil.

The last two weeks have provided Leo Varadkar’s first real challenge since he was elected leader of Fine Gael and Taoiseach in June 2017.

The controversy surrounding Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and her knowledge of the legal tactics undertaken by the legal team for An Garda Síochana against garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe threatened to bring an end to the confidence and supply agreement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

A pre-Christmas general election was narrowly avoided when Fitzgerald, former Minister for Justice, handed in her resignation to Varadkar on Tuesday 28th of November. This resignation came just hours before Fianna Fáil’s planned vote of no confidence in the Táiniste.

With more new information being released hourly in the last few weeks, it has been difficult to keep up with the many twists and turns of the story.

This story is not one that began recently. It dates back to 2006 when garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe first started expressing concern over malpractice in An Garda Siochana.

However, it was Fitzgerald’s role in the controversy that threatened to bring Varadkar’s government down in recent weeks.


15th May 2015
Minister for Justice France Fitzgerald received an email advising her of the legal strategy that was being undertaken by the legal team for An Garda Síochána during the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation. The commission was established in February 2015 to investigate Garda malpractice in the Cavan/Monaghan division, as alleged by Sgt McCabe.

The email sent to Minister Fitzgerald outlined that the legal team for an Garda Síochána would reference a previous allegation of child sexual abuse that had been made against Sgt McCabe in 2006.

“The counsel for the Garda Síochána has raised as an issue into the hearings an allegation made against Sergeant McCabe which was the case examined by the IRM,” the email read.

“The allegation had been that a serious criminal complaint against Sergeant McCabe (which he has always denied) had not been properly investigated by An Garda Síochána”.

The email went on to say that the legal team could use the previous allegations against Sgt McCabe as his motivation to imply that there was malpractice in the gardaí.

It also confirmed that the Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan had “authorised” the legal team’s approach.

O’Sullivan also called a senior official in the Department of Justice around this time to advise that this would be the legal approach that An Garda Síochána would be taking.


October 2017
The questions surrounding what Fitzgerald knew and didn’t know about the legal strategy taken by An Garda Síochána in the smear campaign against Maurice McCabe did not surface for nearly two and a half years.

Labour TD Alan Kelly questioned Frances Fitzgerald’s knowledge of the legal strategy using parliamentary questions.

9th November 2017
The Department of Justice searched official records and unearthed the email sent to Frances Fitzgerald in May 2015.

Current Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, was made aware of the email on 13th November.

14th November 2017
Leo Varadkar says in a Dáil meeting that the Department of Justice had been unable to find any correspondence that may have indicated that Frances Fitzgerald had been told in advance of the O’Higgins Commission of the legal strategies of an Garda Síochána.

He repeated this again on November 15th.

Varadkar later says that Fitzgerald had only been made aware of the strategies in May 2016 following the Commission. He asserted that Fitzgerald and the Department of Justice were only made aware of the stance taken by the legal team when they became known to the public. At this stage it was too late to do anything.

16th November 2017
The Department of Justice confirms to Fitzgerald that an email was found.

The Tánaiste later says that the email sent to her in May 2015 has now been brought to her attention. She says she assumes she read it at the time but cannot remember.

The Taoiseach sees the email for the first time on 20th November.

20th November
The Department of Justice confirms that it was made aware of the legal strategies undertaken by An Garda Síochana in May 2015. The Department also confirms that Fitzgerald knew of the strategy at this time.

23rd November
Sinn Féin tables a motion of no confidence in the Tánaiste. Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald had warned Fitzgerald earlier in the day that it was her last chance to come clean and provide clarity on what she did and did not know about the emails sent to her in 2015.

Fine Gael says the party unanimously supports Fitzgerald.

24th November
Fianna Fáil confirms on Friday they will call a vote of no confidence in the Tánaiste on Tuesday. This threatens to end the supply and confidence agreement struck up between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael after the last general election. Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin meets Leo Varadkar and says that Fianna Fáil does not want a general election before Christmas and instead were seeking Fitzgerald’s resignation.

Varadkar pledges support to Fitzgerald and says that if Fianna Fáil successfully votes no confidence in the Tánaiste, a general election would be held before Christmas.

25th & 26th November
Martin and Varadkar meet to discuss the controversy. On Saturday, the Fine Gael leader hands over Department of Justice documents to Martin which outline the legal strategies of the lawyers for An Garda Síochána.

Martin continues to call for the Tánaiste’s resignation but Varadkar continues to pledge both his and his party’s support to Fitzgerald.

27th November
New documents are released by the Department of Justice on the eve of the vote of no confidence.

One document reveals that the Minister for Justice’s then private secretary responded to the May 2015 email saying that “the minister has noted the below”.

Fitzgerald insists she will not be stepping down.

Taking to Twitter, she says that she could not interfere with the O’Higgins Commission.




28th November
Just hours ahead of the vote of no confidence, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald resigns.

Fitzgerald says she resigned to “avoid an unwelcome and potentially destabilising general election at this historically critical time.”

Taoiseach Varadkar says that he regrets accepting Fitzgerald’s resignation and that he believes that “a good woman is leaving office with a full or fair hearing.”

A general election is now off the cards.

30th November
A crazy two weeks in the political world comes to an end as Varadkar announces Simon Coveney as the new Tánaiste. Heather Humphreys takes over from Fitzgerald as Minister for Business, while Josepha Madigan becomes Minister for Arts.