Homeless campaigners have demanded immediate action after Census 2016 found almost 200,000 houses and apartments lying empty across the 26 Counties.
The 10 per cent vacancy rate amid a profound housing crisis sparked calls for absentee property owners to be required to provide accommodation for those in need.
The Peter McVerry Trust said the figure, which doesn’t include holiday homes, was unacceptably high amid an unprecedented housing and homeless emergency.
“The level of vacant housing units underlines just how dysfunctional our housing system has become,” spokesman Francis Doherty said.
“In Dublin, we have around 4,000 individuals in homelessness yet the figures out today show over 36,000 vacant units across the region.”
The report showed there are 2,022,895 houses and apartments, including temporary and communal dwellings nationwide but 198,358 were lying vacant on census night, Sunday April 24. Another 61,204 holiday homes were lying empty and 44,868 properties which people were temporarily absent from.
More than 6,000 parents and children are in emergency accommodation for the homeless and up to 130,000 people are on social housing waiting lists across the country.
The McVerry Trust called for the Dublin government and councils to force through compulsory purchase orders in order to take unused buildings out of private ownership. It also said buildings should be under real-time monitoring to see whether they are being occupied regularly.
“We should not tolerate a situation where there are thousands of homes lying idle, particularly during a housing and homeless emergency,” Mr Doherty said.
The census also recorded the population of the 26 County state growing to 4.75 million in the five years from 2011, an increase of 169,724, or 3.7%.
The preliminary figures also revealed the scourge of emigration still hitting some parts of the country badly, alongside the movement of people within the state. Despite a continuing influx of immigrants from across the EU and abroad, the CSO estimated that 28,558 more people emigrated from the state than arrived here.
Donegal is the worst affected with its population down by 2,382, or 1.5%, between 2011 and 2016. Other areas bearing the brunt were Mayo, Sligo, Co Galway, Limerick and South Dublin .
The fastest-growing areas were Greater Dublin, in particular in the Fingal region covering Swords, Blanchardstown and other northern and north western suburbs of the capital.
Meanwhile, official figures on the 26 County economy have been branded a farce after an increase in the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 26.3 per cent in one year was recorded.
The increase was due to the tax-dodging activities of multinational companies seeking to avoid a threatened clampdown by the US and EU on the loopholes available in the 26 County state.
Aidan Regan, assistant professor in the School of Politics and International Relations at University College Dublin, said there is “simply no credibility to the national accounts. Most serious observers looking in at Ireland know this.” International economist Paul Krugman laughed off the number as “leprechaun economics”.
Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said the 26.3 per cent number was a “nonsense”. He called for a new way of analysing economic growth. “It is irrelevant. It does not reflect any sort of reality as to how the economy is faring,” he said.