Data Transparency & Protection

Who we are:

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is Ireland’s National Statistical Institute and our purpose is to impartially collect, analyse and make available statistics about Ireland’s people, society and economy. Specifically, our mandate under the Statistics Act 1993 is “The collection, compilation, extraction and dissemination for statistical purposes of information relating to economic, social and general activities and conditions in the State” (Section 10).

Statistics inform decision-making across a range of areas including construction, health, welfare, the environment and the economy. At European level, they provide an accurate picture of Ireland’s economic and social performance and enable comparisons between Ireland and other countries.

The CSO is the Data Controller for the Census 2022 data.

What is the census?

The Census is a count, and account, of every person and dwelling in Ireland on Census Night (3 April 2022). By law (Statistics Act 1993; Statistics (Census of Population) Order 2020) everyone in Ireland on that night is required to be included on a census form.

The first full Irish census was in 1821. Since the 1950’s we have had a census every five years (with some exceptions). The census provides vital data to identify the need for services such as education, health and transport at local, regional and national level. As provided for in the Constitution of Ireland, it also informs the number of members in Dáil Éireann, and the makeup of the electoral constituencies.

Purpose of Processing:

The purpose of processing the census data is to give effect to the functions of the Central Statistics Office as set out under the Statistics Act 1993 at Section 10, these being to collect, process, analyse and disseminate information relating to economic, social and general activities and conditions of the State.

The census is the largest and most comprehensive regular survey undertaken to collect this information on our population. The census form is the means used to collect this information from every household and dwelling in the country on Census Night. The information on the forms is analysed, summarised and prepared for publication by census statisticians. The results from Census 2022 will be published – as aggregated and anonymised data between April and December 2023. The purpose of the census is to gather data that policy makers use in planning our future services at community, local and national level including healthcare, education, transport and housing as well as facilitating the CSO in fulfilling our obligations under the Statistics Act, 1993. Previous census results are freely available on the CSO website.

The exercise by the Office of its powers under these Sections of the Act is undertaken in the context of its legally designated functions, which are set out at Section 10 of the 1993 Act as iterated above.

The Statistics Act, 1993 is the basic legislation covering all surveys carried out by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), including the census. Section 25 of the Act enables the Taoiseach to make Orders (Statutory Instruments) requiring people to provide information under the Act. Sections 26 and 27 of the Act provide for the Director General of the CSO to require people to complete and return a form following the making of such an Order by the Taoiseach. 

The Census 2022 form includes a ‘Time Capsule’ where people can – if they wish – write in their own messages. This is the only voluntary section of the form. Section 24 of the Act provides that the CSO may invite anyone to provide information on a voluntary basis.

The Statistics (Census of Population) Order, 2020 provides for the census to be held on 3 April 2022.  It details the information to be provided and the persons required to provide it. 

As an European Union (EU) Member State, Ireland is obliged to conduct a regular census of its population, as set out in Regulation (EC) No. 763/2008. There are also specific regulations relating to this census – Regulation 2017/543 and Regulation 2017/712.  Ireland is required to provide regular data on our population and our housing stock to Eurostat, the EU’s statistical service. The aggregated and anonymised census results are the basis for this data.

The CSO is lawfully processing the Census data under the following Articles of the GDPR:

  • Article 6 (1) (c) processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the controller is subject;
  • Article 6 (1) (e) processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller;
  • Article 9 (2) (g) processing is necessary for reasons of substantial public interest; and
  • Article 9 (2) (j) processing is necessary for reasons of public interest in the area of public health.
  • and under the following Sections of the Data Protection Act, 2018, Sections 38 (1)(a), Sections 42 (1)(c), and Sections 54 (c).

The CSO in the course of its duties and in meeting our mandate will undertake statistical analysis that is needed to examine and define the statistical potential of data, ensuring the ability to continuously inform society and policy.

Who uses the data?

The aggregated statistical outputs derived from the census data will be used by, for example, local, regional and national Government bodies, academics, media, the public, as well as other national statistical organisations.

Is your personal data confidential and how long will the data be retained?

Yes. Any identifiable data provided to the CSO is considered strictly confidential and may not be shared with any third party. This is underpinned by the Statistics Act, 1993.

Your completed census form will be securely stored for 100 years, after which it will become publicly available, in line with the Statistics Act.

Does CSO share personal data with any third parties?

No. The CSO will never share any personal data with any third parties – State, commercial or otherwise. In certain specific cases, pseudonymised versions of data may be made available to approved researchers under strict researcher protocols and detailed governance procedures. 

One of the core principles governing the operation of National Statistical Institutes is the protection of the confidentiality of all information supplied by data providers. The CSO’s ability to compile Official Statistics is based on the extent to which individuals and companies trust the CSO with sensitive information and the CSO’s guarantee of confidentiality for all data providers is built on the fundamental requirement of non-disclosure of confidential data as set out in national and EU statistical legislation.

What rights do you as the data subject have?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) confers the following rights on individuals:

  1. The right to be informed
  2. The right of access
  3. The right to rectification
  4. The right to erasure
  5. The right to restrict processing
  6. The right to object to processing of personal data

Should you wish to exercise these rights directly via the CSO, because your data is processed for statistical purposes, certain limitations in accordance with Article 89 of the GDPR will apply. This is due to the fact that the exercise of any of these rights may render impossible, or seriously impair, the achievement of the statistical processing and such restriction may be necessary for the fulfilment of those purposes. Should you wish to exercise your rights in respect of your data, you may contact the CSO Data Protection Officer, whose contact details are set out below. Applications for access will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. It is the intention of the Office to vindicate this right wherever possible.

The sources and categories of your personal data, where the data has not been collected directly from you:

The primary means of collection of information is the census form. The census form will be delivered to and collected from each household by a census enumerator.

Enumerators will capture some personal information at the doorstep, such as the householders name and contact number – this is to facilitate the most convenient time to collect the census form.

The enumerator will also capture the name, sex, age and citizenship of all members of the household where they indicate that they will be away on the Census Night.

The data is entered into a specially developed application on their CSO smartphone and is sent to a secure CSO database.  This data is secure and the name and contact phone number is used only as an aid to the enumerator to deliver and collect census forms or to help householder with census queries. Personal data is deleted three months after the census field operation is completed.  All phones will be forensically wiped (this means that all data will be completely cleared from the phones and verified by an independent party) at the end of the operation.

CSO will use administrative data (ie data derived from people’s interactions with government bodies and agencies) to correct for non-responding households and for some questions which have not been answered on census forms. Further information on CSO’s use of administrative data in producing statistics can be found here.

For further information on this survey, your Data Protection rights and how your data is used, please contact:

Census Office, Central Statistics Office, Swords Business Campus, Balheary Road, Swords. Co. Dublin K67 D2X4
Telephone: (01) 8951300

Contact details of the Data Protection Officer:

The CSO has appointed a Data Protection Officer (DPO) in line with our GDPR requirements. The DPO oversees compliance with statistical confidentiality and data protection requirements. If you have any questions about this statement, including any request to exercise your legal rights, please contact or send them to the CSO DPO:

Data Protection Officer,
Central Statistics Office,
Skehard Road,
T12 X00E
Tel: 021-453 5000

Right to lodge a complaint to the Supervisory Authority

Under the General Data Protection Regulation, you have a right to lodge a complaint with the Data Protection Commission if you consider that processing of your personal data is contrary to data protection law. The contact details of the Commission are:  

By post: Office of the Data Protection Commission, 21 Fitzwilliam Square South, Dublin 2, D02 RD28, Ireland.

See also Data Protection FAQs in relation to Census 2022