Catholics outnumber Protestants in Northern Ireland for the first time, census data reveals

The proportion of Northern Irish Catholics has outnumbered protestants for the first time, the latest census data results have revealed.

Census figures show that Catholics have 45.7 per cent within the Northern Ireland population, higher than the 43.5 per cent of Protestants.

This has been seen for the first time since the partition of Ireland.

The data showed that 1.5 per cent of the population were from other non-Christian religions.

Census 2021 was carried out on March 21, 2021 (Aaron McCracken/PA)

(PA Media)

The 2011 Census recorded 48 per cent of the population as being either Protestant or brought up Protestant, down five percentage points on 2001.

Meanwhile, the Catholic population stood at 45 per cent in the last census, up one percentage point on 2001.

Those belonging to no religion was recorded at 9.3 per cent in the 2021 Census. This figure is up from 5.6 per cent in 2011.

The figures on religion and national identity are part of the second round of data being published from Census 2021.

The first tranche of figures, published in May, related to population and household numbers. It showed that Northern Ireland’s population had risen to a record high of more than 1.9 million.

The census also included a question on people’s sense of national identity.

Census 2021 showed that 31.9 per cent said they were “British-only” and eight per cent deemed themselves “British and Northern Irish”.

The proportion of the population that said they were “Irish only” was 29.1 per cent while those identifying as “Northern Irish only” was 19.8 per cent.

In Census 2011, 40 per cent said they had a British-only national identity, 25 per cent said they had an Irish-only identity and 21 per cent viewed their identity as being only Northern Irish.

The Census also showed a 63.5 per cent increase in the number of people in Northern Ireland who hold an Irish passport.

Brexit will undoubtedly have been one factor in that surge, with people seeking an Irish passport to retain EU rights lost when the UK left the bloc.

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