Belfast Telegraph

Marriage splits soar, Census shows

More than 200,000 people are divorced or separated in Ireland, it has emerged.

Census figures showed 87,770 people were divorced last April, a 150% rise since 2002, the first count after divorce was legalised in 1997.

Elsewhere, the amount of people separated stood at 116,194.

However, more Irish couples have also married in recent years, with 143,588 more people wed in 2011 than five years earlier.

Of the 1.18 million families, 143,600 were comprised of cohabiting couples. There were also 215,300 families headed by lone parents and 4,042 same-sex couples living together - 2,321 men and 1,721 women.

The census - taken just less than a year ago on April 10 2011 - showed the country's diverse population rose to more than 4.58 million last year and included 766,770 residents who were born outside Ireland - 17% of the population.

The first definitive results of the 2011 census also revealed the number of Irish nationals returning home rose by 19,593 in the year to April 2011. The majority, 7,338, had lived in the UK, followed by Australia (3,921) and the USA (1,688).

The Integration Centre said the figures dispel the thought that many immigrants left Ireland in recent years.

Killian Forde, chief executive, said policymakers need to think about the benefits integration will bring to Irish society.

"From a social perspective immigrants add a cultural vibrancy to Ireland it would not otherwise have. From food, to music and dance there are few of us that would ever wish to return to the homogenous Irish cuisine or culture," he added.

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