Everyone wants a semi-d

The population statistics are in for the 2006 census and they show that Dublin is in relative decline. While the rest of the country grew at 8.1 per cent, Co Dublin could only manage 5.6 per cent.

And I say County Dublin because much of Dublin’s growth took place outside the city, particularly in Fingal.

Dublin City added 10,000 people over the four years from 2002 to 2006 while Fingal added 43,000. Parts of the city are actually in decline. 

Isn’t that incredible? Given all the problems we have with traffic, we are still building a low-rise city dependent on cars. Areas where you could practically walk to the city centre, like Cabra and Clontarf have falling populations.

Meanwhile Meath and Kildare are experiencing huge jumps in populations. Everybody, it seems, wants to live in a semi-detached house. The rebirth of urban Dublin is a myth. 

The southside has obviously decided to put up the shutters and not let anyone else in. The Dun Laoghaire constituency has dropped by two per cent in population. It can’t be that developers don’t want to build houses there because they are worth a fortune.

Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council must have questions to answer about why, at the time of record population growth in the State, young people are being forced to move further down the coast. Meanwhile they’re building new facilities for birds in Blackrock. 

I wonder if there isn’t another phenomenon going on here. I know of quite a few people who left Dublin in order to buy a house in the commuter belt and then rent out their old one. In this arrangement your new house is practically free. 

The message from the census is that there needs to be some overall vision for Dublin. A city is not working if it is not attracting people to live in it.

For too many people Dublin is just a destination, a place to work or shop. But not their home. This has to change.

Fair at last

For the first time in a generation Dublin will now have fair representation in the Dail. The county is entitled to 46.5 seats, based on the 2006 census, and will have 47.

Most of Dublin’s 12 constituencies have normal representation but two, Dublin North and Dublin West, are seriously under-represented. In fact, Dublin West has breached the limit set in the constitution of 30,000 people per seat.

This will have to change. But if there is a new commission don’t be surprised if there is pressure for wholesale change. Where did all these three-seaters on the Northside come from? Very handy for keeping out contrary smaller parties.

Northside swing

While Dublin now has the right number of seats, the balance between northside and southside has shifted.

The result is that north of the Liffey is entitled to one of the southside’s seats. The current split is 20 on the northside and 27 on the southside. It should be 21/26.

Given that Fianna Fail is stronger north of the river, don’t be surprised if there is a little swap.