Major decline in Irish-born people in England and Wales, latest Census figures reveal

Thursday, 03 November 2022

Analysis of the 2021 Census data has found a significant decline in the presence of Irish-born people in England and Wales.

The findings are detailed in a ‘Census 2021 Explainer’ published today by experts led by the University of Nottingham, working with the national charity and membership network, Irish in Britain.

Data on country of birth show the number of people living in England and Wales but born in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland was 523,014 in 2021, a decrease of about 99,000 (-16 per cent) from the 2011 Census. Of these people, 324,670 were born in the Republic of Ireland, down 20 per cent compared to a decade ago.

Christian Zik Nsonwu, Policy & Public Affairs Manager at Irish in Britain, said: “This is a notable change in demographic trends for the Irish community in Britain. These trends will present the Irish community with several important questions, and we look forward to the release of more data to help explain these findings and what they mean for the future work of Irish community organisations in Britain.”

In addition to data on country of birth, the Census also collects data on passports held. These data tell a different part of the story. In 2021 there were 364,725 people with an Irish Passport in England and Wales; in this case, the figure is not that different from the one recorded in 2011 (372,389, a -2.1 per cent difference). The research team highlight that while it is too early to speculate, one of the reasons behind this difference is likely to be a ‘Brexit effect’, i.e. a significant number of acquisitions of Irish citizenship among British-born people.

These initial figures were released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 2 November 2022; one of a series of ‘topic summaries’ from the latest Census. Over the coming months, the research team will continue to analyse further datasets released by the ONS and publish the results as they are made available. The publication of data on Ethnic Group, which include the ‘White Irish’ and ‘Gypsy or Irish Traveller’ categories, is expected at the end of November.

Alessio DAngelo
This is only the start of an important process to get a robust and informative picture of the people living in England and Wales. As additional and more detailed datasets are released, we will get a nuanced understanding of a range of socio-economic characteristics and of the degree of diversity and inequality within Irish communities and between these and the wider resident population.
Dr Alessio D’Angelo, Associate Professor in Public and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham

For more in-depth analysis, the 2021 Census Analysis Reports will be published on the Irish in Britain website here.

The research team, led by Dr Alessio D’Angelo at the University of Nottingham, includes Dr Neil Kaye, Research Fellow at UCL’s Institute of Education, Dr Alastair Munro, Researcher at the University of Nottingham, and Professor Louise Ryan, Director of Global Diversities and Inequalities Research Centre at London Metropolitan University.

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More information is available from Dr Alessio D’Angelo in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Nottingham at

Katie Andrews - Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Social Sciences
Phone: 0115 951 5751

Notes to editors:

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