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06 Oct 2022

More Catholics than Protestants for first time in Northern Ireland Census

More Catholics than Protestants for first time in Northern Ireland Census

Northern Ireland has more people who identify as Catholic than Protestant for the first time in its 101-year history, new census results have shown.

The census reveals that of the resident population, 45.7% are either Catholic or brought up Catholic. The percentage of the population who are either Protestant or were brought up Protestant is 43.5%. Around 9.3% of people said they neither belonged to nor were brought up in any religion.

The figure for the Catholic population has increased by 0.6% since the last census in 2011, while the figure for the Protestant population has fallen almost 5% during the same period.

One of the key reasons for the decline in the Protestant population is that it is an older, aging community with higher mortality. The number of people in Northern Ireland who define themselves as having a British identity only has fallen during the past 10 years, while those who regard themselves as Irish has increased.

The proportion of the population who defined themselves as 'British only' is 31.9%, with the number down from 772,400 in 2011 to 606,300 in 2021. In the 2011 census, this figure was 40%.

The number of people who regard themselves as 'Irish only' is up from 457,000 to 554,000 or 29.1% - a 25% increase.

The number describing themselves as 'Northern Irish only' is broadly the same at 376,400 or 19.8%, down very slightly from 379,000 (21%) in 2011.

The population of Northern Ireland when the census was carried out in March last year was 1,903,100, an increase of 5% since 2011 and the highest figure recorded since Northern Ireland was created.

The figures were published this morning by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra).

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