Press Release | Census 2016 Reflects the Real Diversity of Families in Today’s Modern Ireland

Press Release

Census 2016 Shows Increase in One-Parent Family Households and in People who are Divorced Reflecting the Real Diversity of Families in Today’s Modern Ireland

Government must step up with policies and services

(Dublin, Thursday 6th April 2017) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and separating – responds to the latest Census 2016 figures released today by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The Census shows that there were 218,817 families in Ireland headed by one parent in 2016; an increase of over 3,500 families since Census 2011. The vast majority, 86.4%, were headed by women. Almost 90,000 of these parents indicated that they were single; a further 50,496 were widowed; and the remaining 68,378 were separated or divorced. Nationally, the number of divorced people in Ireland has increased from 87,770 in 2011 to 103,895 in 2016, an increase of 16,125 persons. This is an increase of over 44,000 people in the last ten years. In contrast, the number of people identifying as separated has levelled off and stood at 118,178. This is up marginally from 116,194 five years earlier.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan comments: “There has been a 1.2% increase in the number of children living in one parent families with almost 1 in 5 children in Ireland (19.5%) now living in a one-parent family. This reflects the evidence that we have from working with families, from listening to them, and understanding their lived realities. It shows that family form is not, and has never been, static. However, services and policies are very often static, and do not reflect the reality of family diversity. Families are left without the supports they need. Lack of supports to separate well, lack of anti poverty measures and lack of mediation services around the country are clear examples of this gap. Government must look at new inter-departmental approaches if it is serious about fixing this problem, and working towards a society where all families are equally cared for and enabled to contribute.”

One Family Policy & Programmes manager, Valerie Maher, comments: “As divorce in Ireland generally requires a period of separation in the first instance, up to five years, the figures reflect both a progression for people from separation to divorce, combined with more people becoming separated. A Private Members Bill reducing the mandated waiting period to initiate divorce proceedings from four years to two is being debated before the Dáil today. We launched the results of Ireland’s First National Shared Parenting Survey in January. Over 1,000 women and men told us what is needed to support them and their children. Government must listen to their voices now, and implement our policy recommendations to ensure that separating parents are supported to keep children at the centre of parenting, thus ensuring better outcomes for all members of the family.”

Census findings reflect what One Family has been saying for years: Ireland’s families come in all shapes and sizes. Further information and analysis on families will be released in June this year. It is time for Government and society to embrace this wonderful diversity.

Notes for Editors


About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and celebrates its 45th year in 2017. It is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services.

These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 662212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (

One Family launched the results of Ireland’s first national Shared Parenting Survey. The full report can be read here.

For further information, visit

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Valerie Maher, Policy & Programmes Manager | t: 01 662 9212

Further Information/Scheduling

Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 622 9212 or 087 414 8511