Legal Basis for Census

There are a number of legal aspects to undertaking a census in Ireland.

Statistics Act 1993 and Census Order

The basic legislation covering the 2016 census is the Statistics Act, 1993

Section 25 of the Act enables the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) to make Orders (Statutory Instruments) requiring persons or undertakings to provide information under the Act. The Order can specify the general nature of the information required and the persons required to provide the information. The relevant Order for census 2016 is the Statistics (Census of Population) Order, 2015

The Constitution of Ireland

The census is mentioned in Article 16.2.3 of Bunreacht na hÉireann (the Constitution of Ireland).

This states that “The ratio between the number of members to be elected at any time for each constituency and the population of each constituency, as ascertained at the last preceding census, shall, so far as it is practicable, be the same throughout the country.”

EU Regulation

In 2011, for the first time, Ireland along with all other EU countries, was obliged to conduct a census of population. This requirement was set out under EU regulation, Regulation (EC) No. 763/2008, which set out the topics to be covered in the 2011 census in all of the EU’s Member States.  The results can be found at: All EU Member States are due to carry out a census in 2021.

Government decision

The Government at its meeting of 25th April 2014 decided that a Census of Population should be undertaken in 2016 and that Sunday, 24th April 2016 be set as Census Day.  The Government also decided that the questions to be asked in the 2016 Census questionnaire would be the same as those asked in 2011 with the exception of the question on marital status (to take account of the introduction of same-sex civil partnerships in 2011).