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Half of Irish adults excluded from information society, reveals report

Almost half of the Irish adult population does not have access to the Internet, a study from the country's information society commission has revealed. Although this year's eurobarometer survey found that the rate of household Internet access in Ireland was higher than the EU...

Almost half of the Irish adult population does not have access to the Internet, a study from the country's information society commission has revealed. Although this year's eurobarometer survey found that the rate of household Internet access in Ireland was higher than the EU average, the study, entitled 'eInclusion - expanding the information society in Ireland' estimates that certain sectors of Irish society are at particular risk of being excluded from the opportunities presented by the information society. The study reports that around 80 per cent of all housewives and 73 per cent of the unemployed do not have access to Internet facilities. Retired people and those working in agriculture, forestry and fishing are also cited as high risk groups in terms of missing out. 'But what is perhaps more worrying is that only one in five of these express an interest in having such access - leaving over 1.2 million Irish adults who simply do not see a value or relevance in these technologies,' said Inez Bailey from the information society commission. 'Failure to address this problem today will mean poor ICT [information and communication technologies] skills becoming the literacy problem of tomorrow.' To tackle these issues head on, the study points to the objectives set by the European Commission's eEurope Action Plan 2005, and calls on the Irish government to make e-inclusion a political, economic and social priority. It also outlines several recommendations on measuring the development of the information society, motivating target groups to engage with ICT, and ensuring ICT access and infrastructure, as well as broadband. Specifically, the study suggests setting up an e-inclusion research information centre - virtual or physical - to share information on e-inclusion research and link policy and practice at national, EU and international levels. The study concludes with one final recommendation calling on the Irish government to hold a high profile EU level conference on e-inclusion during Ireland's Presidency of the EU in 2004.

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