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Country Profile of Ireland

Main statistical agency
Main statistical agency name
Central Statistics Office (CSO)
Web address
Position in the government
The Director-General of the CSO reports to the Taoiseach (Prime Minister)
Organizational structure and finance
The top management structure of the CSO is comprised of a Director General, two Assistant Director Generals and four Directors.

Directorates for:

› Business Statistics
› Social and Democraphic Statistics
› Economic Statistics
› Census of Population
› IT and Corporate Services
› Statistical Support and Innovation
Multi-annual or annual work program
CSO's Statement of Strategy sets out the strategic direction of the Office, providing our management, staff and external stakeholders with a clear guide to our corporate goals and business objectives.

The CSO has now published its first Progress Report on the Statement of Strategy 2008-2010 which is available on the website.
Main duties
Since its establishment as the national statistical agency in 1949 the CSO has pursued the same mandate, as set out in the Statistics Act 1993: "The collection, compilation, extraction and dissemination for statistical purposes of information relating to economic, social and general activities and conditions in the State". It is also responsible for co-ordinating official statistics of other public authorities and for developing the statistical potential of administrative records. The Office exists primarily to meet the needs of Government for quality statistical information which is a vital input to the formation, implementation and monitoring of policy and programmes at national, regional and local levels in a rapidly changing economic and social environment. It also serves the needs of the wider national and international community (i.e. business, EU, international organisations, media, researchers, and the public generally) for impartial and relevant information on social and economic conditions. Particular attention is paid to the specialist needs of business and the research/academic community for more detailed and focused data. This mandate is encapsulated in the following Mission Statement that appears in the CSO's 2004-2006 Corporate Plan: Statistics for a Modern Ireland, The efficient and timely provision of high quality information needed by a changing society.

Brief history and other relevant background information
Brief history and other relevant background information
Irish statistics have a long history. They commenced in the first half of the nineteenth century, for example:

o comprehensive decennial Censuses of Population from 1841;

o annual Censuses of Agriculture from 1849;

o marriage statistics from 1845;

o birth and death statistics from 1864.

Following the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 a Statistics Branch was set up in the new Department of Industry and Commerce through the amalgamation of the:

o Statistics and Intelligence Branch which existed since 1900 in the former Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction of Ireland;

o Statistics and Information Branch (established in 1919) of the Irish Department of the Ministry of Labour in London.

This Statistics Branch was responsible for the compilation of the bulk of Irish official statistics up to June 1949 when it was transferred to form the Central Statistics Office (CSO) as a separate office.

Legal basis
Legal basis
The 1993 Statistics Act underpinned the statistical independence of the CSO on a statutory basis by providing that:
"The Director General shall have the sole responsibility for and be independent in the exercise of the functions of deciding-

(a) the statistical methodology and professional statistical standards used by the Office;

(b) the content of statistical releases and publications issued by the Office; and

(c) the timing and methods of dissemination of statistics compiled by the Office"

(Section 13, Statistics Act 1993)

The other principal features of the Statistics Act, 1993 are:

* the establishment of the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the post of Director General and the National Statistics Board on a statutory basis;

* reinforcement of the existing statutory confidentiality provisions for data collected by the CSO from survey respondents and other sources;

* CSO authority to co-ordinate the statistics produced by other public bodies;

* increased CSO powers to access administrative records for statistical purposes;

* provision for forms completed in the Census of Population conducted since the formation of the State to be accessed after 100 years (the returns for the 1901 and 1911 Censuses conducted under UK legislation are accessible in the National Archives);

* provision for anonymised micro data to be made available for research purposes.

Other producers of official statistics
Other producers of official statistics
The statistical system of Ireland is highly centralized.
Department of Agriculture and Food;
Department of Education's Post-Primary Pupil Database; Department of Social and Family Affairs;
Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism;
Department of Justice;

Statistical advisory bodies
Statistical advisory bodies
The National Statistics Board:

The National Statistics Board is an advisory body, established under the Statistics Act, and is responsible to Government for developing its statistical strategy. This responsibility includes setting of priorities for the compilation and development of official statistics in Ireland and guiding the strategic direction of the Central Statistics Office. Further details on the NSB can be obtained from its website

Other Advisory Bodies:

In addition there are a number of user groups covering specific statistical areas including the Earnings Statistics Liaison Group, Labout Market Liaison Group and the Agriculture Statistics Liaison Group.

Data collection
Most recent population census
23 April 2006
Access to administrative data
The Office has access to numerous administrative sources for statistical purposes. Examples cover areas such as vital statistics, business register, construction permits.

In 2003 the Office completed a project aimed at realising the Statistical Potential of Administrative Records (SPAR), From the viewpoint of Social and Equality statistics, in six major Government Departments

The aim of the project was to analyse current data sources and data demands and see if there is any potential for developing these data sources further for statistical purposes. A Working Report has been published on the CSO and NSB websites.

This was followed in 2004/05 with a similar exercise, focused on business and environmental statistics, in the Central Bank, Revenue Commissioners and 7 Government Departments.
Data confidentiality
The confidentiality of the individual information relating to persons and undertakings collected by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) is protected under the Statistics Act. The functions of the Office are 'the collection, compilation, extraction and dissemination for statistical purposes of information relating to economic, social and general activities and conditions in the State'. To this end, the Office receives information on individual persons, households, business and other undertakings. This information is obtained either directly in statutory or voluntary inquiries or indirectly from the administrative records of public authorities. All individual information obtained by the CSO is treated as strictly confidential. The information is used solely for statistical purposes. Results are published in aggregate form and great care is taken to ensure that details relating to an identifiable person or undertaking are not inadvertently divulged. This confidentiality is guaranteed by law. The CSO is a separate Office attached to the Department of the Taoiseach. This underlines the complete independence of the office and its Director General in the discharge of their statistical duties.

In May 2005 the CSO published a protocol "Underpinning the reputation of the CSO by maximising the value and utility of data".

Under Section 33 (2) of the Statistics Act, the CSO may, for statistical purposes, assign economic activity codes to undertakings listed in the administrative systems of public authorities.

Data dissemination
Release calendar (existence, when and how published)
A weekly announcement, Statistics Due for Release, is available by email from CSO Information Section each Thursday and also appears on the CSO Internet site. It lists the releases and publications due for release in the following week.

A four-month advance calendar of release dates for regular Statistical Releases and publications is similarly available at the end of each month.
Main publications
CSO statistics are disseminated in a variety of ways as follows:

Statistical Releases
These provide the more recent results of regular statistical inquiries (e.g. monthly retail sales index, quarterly industrial earnings, etc.) as soon as they become available. These are also available on the CSO Internet site ( at time of publication.

Statistical Publications
These provide the detailed results of large-scale inquiries (e.g. Census of Population reports, annual Census of Industrial Production results).

This service posts copies of specified Statistical Releases to customers on a fee basis on the day they are issued.

The principal monthly and quarterly statistical series are provided in the monthly publication Economic Series. Details of all monthly and quarterly statistical series, initially issued in Statistical Releases are provided in the quarterly Statistical Bulletin.

CSO Internet Site
A broad range of CSO statistics (and other information) is available on our Internet site ( Some 4,500 time series can be downloaded in spreadsheet format.

Special Analyses
Where resources permit, the CSO completes special customised statistical analyses on a fee basis.

Press Releases
The CSO issues Press Releases with many detailed statistical publications, highlighting the principal features of the results.

Press Conferences
Press conferences are arranged by the CSO in conjunction with the release of important statistical results and publications.

CSO Data Bank
The CSO's computerised Data Bank (EireStat) contains the principal economic and social statistics. The Data Bank contains about 29,000 time series and 4,000 cross-sectional variables. Most series are updated within an hour of publication.
Languages of main publications
Irish, English
How are data disseminated (Paper, CD Rom, Website, online databases, databanks)?
See "Main Publications" section above
Availability of microdata for research purposes
Under the provisions of Section 34 of the Statistics Act, 1993, the CSO may provide bona fide researchers with anonymised micro datasets relating to household surveys under formal contract arrangements. The arrangements and related conditions are set out in the leaflet Arrangements for Researchers to access Anonymised Micro Data, which is available free on request from the CSO.

Similar arrangements do not exist for business microdata because of the difficulty of ensuring complete anonymity. However, researchers can, for important analysis, be appointed Officers of Statistics under the confidentiality and other provisions (including sanctions) of the Statistics Act, 1993 and allowed to analyse business micro datasets (which never incorporate identification details) within the CSO.

In May 2005 the CSO published a protocol "Underpinning the reputation of the CSO by maximising the value and utility of data".

Under Section 35 of the Statistics Act, Census of Population records may be opended to the public after 100 years.

The CSO has lodged anonymised micro-data files from the Census of Population, the Household Budget Survey and the Quarterly National Household Survey with the Irish Social Science Data Archive (ISSDA). The ISSDA manages the access by researchers to these files, for bona fide research purposes, under strict contractual procedures and guarantees.

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