More Catholics than Protestants in Northern Ireland for the first time


“The Irish government should set up a citizens’ assembly to plan the possibility of a Unity referendum,” said John Finucane, a Sinn Féin MP, who described the shift as “irreversible”.

“I don’t come from a traditional Protestant background, but my support for the Union is not in question,” DUP MLA Philp Brett told TBEN Radio Ulster.

“What worries me most is an attempt by some to use a census […] as a sort of mini-referendum on Northern Ireland’s position in the UK.”

dr. David Marshall, of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, said the Catholic community was younger on average than the Protestant community.

There were more births than deaths among the Catholic population, making them bigger, he said, and more deaths than births among the older Protestant population.

“There are other factors as well, but those are the two most important things,” said Dr. marshall. He said there was a “real chance” that more and more Protestants described themselves as having no religion.

ALSO READ  Boat capsizes in Bangladesh: at least 24 Hindu pilgrims killed

In the May elections, Sinn Fein became the largest party in Northern Ireland for the first time, overthrowing an unbroken series of unionist, Protestant majorities.

However, neither community has a majority and there is no guarantee that a voter would vote for or against reunification in a referendum solely because of their religion.

While Sinn Fein won the election, there was a majority for trade union parties, but support was divided among them. More and more people no longer define themselves as unionists or nationalists.

Increase in people without religion

In the census, 17.4 percent of the population said they had no religion, up 7.3 percent from 2011, while the centrist Alliance party, which is neither unionist nor nationalist, achieved its best ever results among the May elections.

ALSO READ  Man charged in court with attempted murder of police officer with stabbing

The census included a question about people’s sense of national identity. 31.9 percent said they were “only British” and 8 percent considered themselves “British and Northern Irish”.

The proportion of the population who said they were “only Irish” was 29.1 percent, while those who identified as “only Northern Irish” was 19.8 percent.

In the 2011 census, 40 per cent said they had only a British national identity, 25 per cent said they had only an Irish identity and 21 per cent considered their identity to be only Northern Irish.

The Good Friday Agreement recognized the right of people on the island of Ireland to reunite if border polls in Ireland and Northern Ireland support it.

ALSO READ  Royal flags remain at half mast as king and family begin final week of mourning

British law says the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland must order a vote if it appears “probable” that a majority of voters want a united Ireland, but it’s unclear how that should be decided. The Irish Government must also agree.

Brexit, which most Northern Irish voters opposed, and the Northern Ireland Protocol, which established Ireland’s maritime border with Britain, have put issues of national identity in the spotlight.

The Census also showed a 63.5 percent increase in the number of people in Northern Ireland with Irish passports. The number rose from 375,800 in 2011 to 614,300 in 2021, presumably to preserve EU rights lost after Brexit.

Northern Ireland has not had a fully functioning government since February and, in a sign of continuing division, the DUP is boycotting Stormont’s recovery over protocol.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here