Catholics outnumber Protestants in Northern Ireland for first time

Statistics outlining the religious make-up and sense of national identity of people were published on Thursday morning.

Census figures reveal Catholics outnumber Protestants in Northern Ireland for first time iStock

Catholics outnumber Protestants in Northern Ireland for first time, new census figures show.

Statistics outlining the religious make-up and sense of national identity of people in the country were published on Thursday morning.

The figures show that Catholics (45.7%) outnumber Protestants (43.5%) within the Northern Ireland population for the first time since the partition of the island of Ireland.

It follows a long-term demographic trend that suggested the Census 2021 would be the first in the history of the region to record more Catholics than Protestants.

The publication of the census traditionally prompts debate over what the figures may mean for the constitutional future of Northern Ireland.

Some may seek 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.

In that respect, more emphasis may be placed on the census figures on national identity.

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