St Johnston Carrigans Demographic Profile
by Mary Crossan
The villages of St Johnston & Carrigans are situated in East Donegal interfacing with the northern border counties of Derry and Tyrone. The villages lie two miles apart along the scenic banks of the River Foyle. St Johnston has a population of 1,227 and Carrigans 1,547 (under Killea DED) with a considerable concentration living in rural locations. The area is isolated due to it’s natural geographical location along the border which is further compounded by incredibly weak infrastructure in terms of the lack of public transport provision, poor roads, social housing and difficulties in accessing essential support services such as health financial, legal etc. In the past few years, the area has undergone dramatic population changes with the development of new private housing developments particularly in the Carrigans area which has led to a significant increase in the population of both villages. The new homes are mostly occupied by families from across the border in Derry and Tyrone or are investment rental properties that have been let out to local people who are on the council housing waiting list.
Killea was described by Haase & Pratschke (2005) as having marginally below average demographic decline and social class disadvantage while St. Johnston was also described as a disadvantaged area in terms of social class disadvantage. Both St. Johnston and Killea were described as ‘severely disadvantaged’ with relation to Labour Market Deprivation. Both St. Johnston and Killea were categorised as having a deprivation score of between -30 to -20 in 1991 (defined as ‘very disadvantaged’ when the national average was 0. In 2002 St. Johnston and Killea were described as having a deprivation score of between -10 and 0, with the national average being 15. In terms of relative deprivation scores from the 2002 Census, St. Johnston is defined as very disadvantaged while Killea is defined as disadvantaged.
These statistics all point to serious issues affecting the community in terms of demographic decline, social class disadvantage and high levels of deprivation, with these issues reflected in information from the 2006 Census. According to the 2006 Census, St. Johnston had a population of 1,227 people (608 males and 619 females) while the Killea DED had a population of 1,547 (789 males and 758 females), which is a joint population of 2,774 people. Of this population, 658 people were aged between 0-14 years, with 426 people aged between 15-24. This high youth population of 1,084 means that young people make up 39.8% of the population of the area. There were 229 people aged over 65 years of age between the two DEDs which means that older people account for 8.25% of the population. Although this figure is lower than the county average of 12.6%, it does raise issues around the provision of services for older people in a rural area without a proper transport system. The high youth population and number of older people in the area comprise 48% of the population of the area.
With regard to employment, between the two DEDs, 50.5% of people over 15 years of age were at work, with 54% of people in Killea at work, while in St. Johnston 46% were of the population over 15 years of age were at work. 8.7% of the population of the two DEDs were unemployed, 10% were retired, 10.25 % were students and 13.33% classified themselves as looking after the home or family. 5.3% of the population were classified as being unable to work due to permanent sickness or disability. Lone parent families represent 35% of the households in the St Johnston & Carrigans area.
In relation to early school leaving, 219 young people aged 15 years or under in Killea, and 177 young people 15 years or under in St. Johnston were classified as having ceased their education. This translates as 396 young people, 15 years or under, as having left school early. In terms of the overall population between the two DEDs, 14.3% of the population were 15 years or under and had ceased their education. In addition, 320 young people aged 16 had ceased their education, and 168 young people aged 17 had also ended their full time education. 884 young people (31.9% of overall population) aged 17 years or under had ceased their full time education by 2006.
These figures strengthen the thesis that Donegal, and particular St. Johnston and Carrigans (Killea) are disadvantaged areas and this is reflected in the fact that St. Baithins National School, St. Johnston has been designated as a Disadvantaged Primary school by the Department of Education & Science (DETE, 2006, p. 81). Both secondary schools in Raphoe, which tend to be the main progression routes for secondary education for many young people in the area, had been designated as Disadvantaged Post Primary schools (DETE, 2006, p. 82).
Compounding the issues around unemployment, early school leaving and poor transport are a lack of social and affordable housing. The population increase in both St. Johnston and Killea area has not brought a correlating increase in social housing to cater for the needs of the community and as a result, there are 71 family units in the St. Johnston area on the County Council housing waiting list, 40 of these families have children. In Carrigans, there are 38 families on the housing waiting list, while in Killea, 16 families are on the housing list (Donegal County Council, 2008)
Research conducted by the Family Resource Centre in 1999 highlighted the issues of unemployment and early school leaving, alongside:
- Poor service infrastructure- the area has a poor service infrastructure in particular roads, housing, water and sewerage. The area also lacks a financial institution (Credit union, bank or building society), a secondary school or a pharmacy.
- Transport- the lack of a proper transport service has contributed significantly to the rural isolation and marginalisation of this community. The only bus route available is a twice daily Derry to Ballybofey (via Raphoe). The service to Lifford or Letterkenny which are the main urban centres, runs twice a week. 66.1% of people surveyed were unhappy with the bus service in the area.
- Car Ownership
- Poor housing
While these issues were named as being problematic in 1999, many members of the community are still affected by them. It is envisioned that the FRCs proposed community audit will look at these and additional issues, researching the current needs of the community in St. Johnston and Carrigans, with the findings from this audit informing the work of the FRC.
EARLY SCHOOL LEAVING
A massive 26% of the total population of the three areas (St Johnston, Killea and Newtowncunningham) left school before the age of 15 years. With 15% leaving with only primary school education, there is a serious problem in these areas with literacy especially among the 40 and upwards age group. In the 2006 census figures showed that 1628 persons that were employed were classed as semi skilled and unskilled. That is a massive 25% of the total population. Of these there was 545 involved in the farming industry and 352 are own account workers.