For the first time, more Catholics than Protestants in Northern Ireland

For the first time in Northern Ireland’s 101-year history, there are more Catholics than Protestants in the British countryside.

Cross at the German Catholic Day in May in Stuttgart. (icon image) – AFP / Archive


the essentials in short

  • For the first time in history, there are more Catholics than Protestants in Northern Ireland.
  • Religion was a crucial factor in the Northern Irish Civil War.

In a 2021 census, 45.7 percent of the nearly 1.9 million population defined themselves as Catholic or Catholic. As announced Thursday by the statistical office in Belfast. This is a slight increase of 0.7 percentage points from the census ten years ago.

The number of people who consider themselves Protestants or who grew up Protestants has dropped significantly from 48% to 43.5%. 9.3% feel they don’t belong to any religion, up from 5.6% in 2011.

Religion was a crucial factor in Northern Ireland’s decades-long civil war that resulted in thousands of deaths. It is mainly Protestants who support union with Great Britain. While Catholics in particular are in favor of reunification with the Republic of Ireland, a member of the EU.

Experts had repeatedly pointed out that the number of Catholics was increasing significantly. In the regional elections in May, Sinn Fein was the first Catholic unionist party to win the most votes. However, as the referendum also revealed, slightly more people identify as British than Irish (31.9 and 29.1 per cent respectively).

Northern Ireland in focus

After Brexit, Northern Ireland was in focus. At the time, the EU and Britain had agreed on special rules to prevent a physical border between the province and Ireland. The consequences were trade difficulties between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. London therefore wants to terminate the agreement.

As reported by the Guardian newspaper, the British government wants the conflict to be resolved by April. So US President Joe Biden, who has Irish roots and bitterly criticizes the British approach, could go to the UK for a state visit to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, it was said.

More on the topic:

Joe Biden EU Brexit government

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