Disappointment has been expressed with the population allocation for Clare from the Department of the Environment as set out in a draft strategic plan for the southern region of Ireland.
Arising under the Local Government Reform Act 2014 the Southern Regional Assembly assumed a number of new functions. Chief among these responsibilities is the preparation of a Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) to cover the period 2019-2031.
According to the draft in the years from 2006 to 2016, “Population decline was seen in 402 Electoral Districts (27%), mostly in rural and peripheral areas, with largest decreases in areas of Clare, Kerry, Limerick and Cork. Population decline is also evident in some areas within the cities of Cork, Limerick and Waterford. The overall age structure for the region is very similar to that of the State, with higher rates in the older working ages and beyond (45 plus)”.
It predicts the largest increases in populationin the 15-24-year cohort (+26%), 45–64-year cohort (+14%) and 65 plus (+56%). The numbers in both the 0-14-year and 25-44-year cohorts are projected to decrease by 14% each.
Population projections estimate between 129,500 – 131,500 will live in Clare by 2026 and 134,000 – 137,000 by 2031. At present the county has a population of 119,000, between 2006 and 2016 there was an increase of 7,867 in individuals in Clare. The 2031 target for other counties in the Southern Assembly are; Limerick (246,000 – 256,500), Tipperary (180,000 – 184,000), Waterford (137,000 – 144,000), Kerry (166,500 – 170,500), Cork (656,500 – 684,000), Wexford (169,000 – 172,500), Kilkenny (112,000 – 114,500) and Carlow (64,000 – 65,500).
Senior planner with Clare County Council, Brian McCarthy said he was “disappointed with the low allocation for Clare”. The projections were carried out at Government level in conjunction with the ESRI he confirmed. “The allocation does not reflect our ambition,” McCarthy added.
Cllr Pat Hayes stated he was “concerned with the perceived restriction on population”. Cathaoirleach of the local authority Cllr Michael Begley said, “I always thought populations were predictions not restrictions. I don’t understand how you could put mathematical guesses on population”.