THE NUMBER of Catholics living in Northern Ireland outnumber that of Protestants for the first time, census 2021 figures show.
The numbers for 2021 reveal 45.7% of the population are Catholic, compared to 43.5% who are Protestant.
Commenting on the publication of the results, SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP said that the North has been totally transformed 100 years on from partition, and urged people to undertake a serious and sincere reflection on the scale of change that has been experienced and to take part in a conversation about the powerful potential for a social democratic new Ireland.
“As we have built a more inclusive and diverse society, we have together shattered the bonds of an oppressive state which engrained discrimination against a Catholic minority in its every outworking for far too long," he said.
"We are never going back to state sponsored discrimination against any religious minority. I hope that all those who lived through decades of discrimination and who experienced the sharp end of that oppressive state are able to breathe a sigh of relief today."
Sinn Féin MP John Finucane has said the publication of the 2021 Census results indicate that 'historic change is happening’ and said preparations and dialogue on building a better future should begin now.
“Today‘s census results are another clear indication that historic change is happening across this island and of the diversity of society which enriches us all.
“There is no doubt change is underway and irreversible. How that change is shaped moving forward requires maturity to take the challenges which face our society."
Prior to the publication of the results, the DUP's Gregory Campbell described the linking o fthe number of Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland with the prospect of a Border poll is "lazy analysis"