Northern Ireland census figures on religion and national identity due today

Northern Ireland census figures on religion and national identity due today

CENSUS FIGURES outlining the religious make-up and sense of national identity of people in Northern Ireland will be published today.

As well as that, statistics about passports will also be released.

Long-term demographic trends suggest Census 2021 could be the first in the history of Northern Ireland to record more Catholics than Protestants within the population.

The 2011 Census recorded 48% of the population as being either Protestant or brought up Protestant, down five percentage points on 2001. The Catholic population stood at 45% in the last census, up one percentage point on 2001.

In terms of passports, almost 60% of people had a British passport while just over 20% had an Irish one.

The figures had been due to be released on Tuesday but that was delayed due to the Queen's funeral.

The publication of the census traditionally prompts debate over what the figures may mean for the constitutional future of Northern Ireland, with some potentially seeking to draw a direct link between the religious breakdown and public opinion on the potential reunification of Ireland.

However, critics of that approach view religious affiliation as a crude metric to measure sentiment on the constitutional question, insisting that just because someone is Protestant or Catholic does not necessarily mean their respective political outlooks are unionist or nationalist.

The census was carried out in March 2021, with figures being released in stages.

The first of the figures were released in May 2022 and related to population and household numbers.

It recorded Northern Ireland's highest ever population at more than 1.9 million.

The second release of figures will also include data on ethnicity, sexual orientation and a range of other demographic statistics.