Wednesday 10 July 2019

Future Irish census will carry messages from the past

For the first time, the 2021 census of the Republic of Ireland will allow people to write a confidential or personal message on their census questionnaire; this message – dubbed a 'time-capsule' feature, will be offered with neither guidance nor restrictions on what individuals might wish to convey to their descendants or future society, and will remain sealed for 100 years. Leaving a message will be voluntary.

Other changes to the quesionnaire will see eight new questions posed. They focus on renewable energy sources, smoking, volunteering, childcare, commuting home from work, school or college, internet access and devices, smoke alarms and working from home. Some 25 existing questions, including those dealing with disability, ethnic group, Irish language and religion, will be updated.

The next census will be paper-based and take place on Sunday 18 April 2021. The changes follow the Central Statistics Office's two-year public consultation and pilot survey, the latter having been carried out in September 2018 in 35 areas in seven counties, with 10,000 households taking part.

Commenting on the consultation and Pilot Survey, Cormac Halpin, Senior Statistician, said: "The value of the statistical information provided by the census cannot be overestimated. It drives policy, targets services where needed and informs our decisions at a time of continuing social change. "There is an international element to the next census as every other EU member state will also be required to carry out a census in 2021."

Time for some debate, perhaps, on what our descendants might want to learn about us in 2121?