According to studies accompanying the 2021 census released this Thursday, a relative change was already expected between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland and this change has just taken place: for the first time, Catholics outnumber Protestants in Ireland. of the North.
Cited by The Guardian, the results have been described as “a seminal moment” by Irish Republican party leaders who are in favor of secession from the UK and the reunification of Ireland into an island republic. And it is the Republicans in power in Northern Ireland since the last elections in May this year who have dictated Sinn Féin’s victory.
As per tradition, the Catholic population, which historically has suffered the same persecutions suffered by the Protestants living on the continent, votes mainly for the republicans and only to a lesser extent for the unionists. In other words, parties like the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a traditional ally of the British Conservatives and winner of dozens of elections, may now begin to struggle to return to power.
Quoted in the British press, John Finucane, a leading exponent of the main Republican party, Sinn Fein, called for preparations for the “possibility of a referendum on unity”, thus joining a similar movement that exists with considerable force in Scotland: the his best moment The minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is a member of the Scottish National Party, a staunch supporter of separation. “The partition of Ireland was a failure. We can build a better future together, for every person living on this island, ”said the deputy after the announcement of the census results.
Of course, not all Catholics are republicans, just as certainly not all Protestants are unionists, but this fact, combined with the victory of Sinn Féin, cannot leave London politicians alone. Who, moreover, knows that the ability of King Charles III to maintain the integrity of the territory will certainly not be the same as his mother, the recently deceased Isabel II.
Worse still, the Irish – Republicans, unionists or not – have every reason to be uncomfortable with the way they have been treated by power in London since the Brexit referendum prevented them from staying in the European Union. The Irish Protocol is the worst part of Brexit – say those here and there in the Channel – and after many months no one has been able to find a way to solve the problem. For one simple reason: because there is no way to solve the problem, unless, by magic, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland can be opened and closed.
At the same time, Northern Irish people see the Republic of Ireland as the country in the European Union with the most attractive GDP growth rates of the 27 and will surely wonder if there is a good reason not to be included in that world. An issue that will certainly mark Liz Truss’s political agenda in the near future.