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All current statutory inquiries and corresponding Statutory Orders are outlined in the link below.

Statutory Statistical Inquiries

Statistical Requirements

The CSO compiles a wide range of statistics to meet national (i.e Government, business, researchers, general public, etc.), EU and other international requirements.

The bulk of the statistics produced are now mandatory under EU Statistical legislation. Most of the information required for this purpose is collected directly by the CSO from households and businesses. The information is generally collected on a sample basis to minimise the statistical reporting burden on the community. The samples used for this purpose must be representative and a high response is necessary to ensure that the derived results are accurate and reliable.
The CSO compiles a wide range of statistics to meet national (i.e Government, business, researchers, general public, etc.), EU and other international requirements.

Legal Basis for Statistical Inquiries

The Statistics Act, 1993 provides the legal basis for all statistical inquiries, both statutory (i.e obligatory) and voluntary, undertaken by the CSO.

The Act provides a statutory guarantee that identifiable information collected in the course of CSO inquiries will be treated as strictly confidential and will be used only for statistical purposes.

The CSO assigns the highest priority to ensuring that information relating to identifable survey respondents is never revealed. Only aggregate results are published.

Household Inquiries

The five-yearly Census of Population is the only statutory household survey conducted by the CSO. The other household surveys, principally the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) (covers approximately 39,000 households each quarter), and the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) are conducted on a voluntary basis.

Other than the Quarterly Travel Inquiry, conducted by post, household data is directly collected by CSO Interviewers who carry official identification.

Business Inquiries

The CSO conducts monthly, quarterly and annual surveys covering all sectors of the economy. Other than the annual Census of Industrial Production and the annual Census of Building and Construction, these business surveys are conducted on a sample basis to minimise the statistical reporting burden on the business sector. Particular efforts are made to minimise the data demands on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). However, it is essential that SMEs are represented at an appropriate level in CSO inquiries to ensure that their major contribution to the growth of the economy is monitored and reflected in the national statistics. Newly established businesses and a rotating proportion of existing enterprises are covered in ongoing special inquiries to ensure that the basic data (e.g. name, address, legal status, number of persons engaged) held on the CSO Business Register is up-to-date so that representative samples are selected.

Business inquiries are conducted by post. The covering letter makes it clear whether or not the inquiry is statutory. It also specifies the latest date for the return of data. CSO contact points are specified for assistance if a business has difficulty in understanding the data requirements. Best estimates are accepted if exact information is not readily available.

The timeliness and accuracy of CSO business statistics depends on the promptness, level and quality of responses to its inquiries. The following is the usual procedure in cases where a business has not responded to a statistical inquiry by the specified date:

  • a written reminder is first issued;
  • this is followed up by a telephone reminder if there is still no response;
  • the business is visited by a Field Officer if there is continued non-response.

For statutory inquires, the CSO does everything possible to encourage businesses to respond and to facilitate them in meeting the survey requirements (e.g. acceptance of best estimates). A non-respondent is referred to the CSO Enforcement Unit only as a last resort. A warning letter is then issued to the company secretary or proprietor advising that if a return is not received by the appointed date, the case will be forwarded to the Chief State Solicitor who may initiate legal proceedings under Section 36 of the Statistics Act, 1993.

Legal Offences

Under the Statistics Act, 1993 it is an offence for a person or undertaking to:

  • fail to provide information requested in a statutory inquiry (Section 36);
  • prevent an Officer of Statistics (i.e. a CSO staff member or field officer) carrying out her/his duties (Section 37);
  • obstruct the Director General or an Officer of Statistics in the exercise of her/his functions under the Act (Section 40);
  • wilfully destroy, damage or falsify any document or record issued for the collection of statistics for a statutory inquiry (Section 42);
  • provide information, written or oral, or deliver a document, knowing it to be false, in purported compliance with a requirement under the Act (Section 43).

Legal Penalties

A person or undertaking found guilty of an offence under the Act is liable:

  • on summary conviction to a fine up to €2,500 or
  • on conviction on indictment, to a fine up to €45,500.

Where a person or undertaking is convicted of an offence under Section 36 (i.e. failure to provide information requested in a statutory inquiry), s/he shall, if the contravention continues after conviction, be guilty of an offence on every day on which it continues and for each such offence be liable:

  • on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €500, or
  • on conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €2,276

Statistical Legislation

Irish statistics were compiled under the provisions of the Statistics Acts, 1926 and 1946 up until 1 November 1994 when the Statistics Act, 1993 came into operation.

 Statistics Act, 1993

 An tAcht Staidrimh, 1993 (PDF)

The 1993 Statistics Act underpins 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-

  1. the statistical methodology and professional statistical standards used by the Office;
  2. the content of statistical releases and publications issued by the Office; and
  3. 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.

The Act fully reflects the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics adopted by the UN Economic Commission for Europe in 1992.

In accordance with Section 8(c) of the Data Protection Act, 1988 any restrictions in that Act on the disclosure of personal data do not apply in the case of the CSO if it requests such disclosure as a requirement (other than for the Courts, Garda Síochána, Prison Administration, Ombudsman and Medical Records) under Section 30 of the Statistics Act, 1993.