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

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Catholics outnumber Protestants in Northern Ireland for the first time in the country’s more than 100-year history, census figures have revealed.

Unionists are traditionally Protestant, while historically Nationalists are mostly Catholic. Northern Ireland’s borders were drawn to ensure a Protestant majority in 1921, and the demographic shift will fuel debate over a potential referendum on Irish reunification.

In Northern Ireland, compared to the last census in 2011, the number of people who identify as British has also fallen and the number who identify as Irish has increased.

Sinn Féin MP John Finucane said “historic” and “irreversible” changes were taking place. “The Irish government should set up a citizens’ assembly to plan for the possibility of a unity referendum,” he said.

A total of 45.7 percent of the population of 1.9 million identified themselves as Catholic, compared to 43.5 percent who were Protestant in the census conducted last year.

According to the 2011 census, 48 ​​percent of residents were Protestant or raised Protestant, and 45 percent were Catholic.

In May, Sinn Fein, which once wanted a border election, became the biggest party in Northern Ireland for the first time overturned an unbroken streak of Unionist, Protestant majorities.

However, no community has a majority and there is no guarantee that a referendum voter would vote for or against merger simply because of their religion.

While Sinn Fein won the election, the majority favored the unionist parties, but support was fragmented among them.

In the census, 17.4 percent of the population said they had no religion, a 7.3 percent increase on 2011, while the centrist party Zavezništvo, which is neither unionist nor nationalist, scored its best ever results in May’s election.

The census included a question about people’s sense of national identity. 31.9 percent said they were “British only” and 8 percent considered themselves “British and Northern Irish”.

The proportion of residents who said they were “only Irish” was 29.1 per cent, while the proportion who identified themselves as “only Northern Irish” was 19.8 per cent.

In the 2011 census, 40 percent said they only had a British national identity, 25 percent said they only had an Irish identity, and 21 percent said they were only Northern Irish.

The Good Friday Agreement recognized the right of the people of the island of Ireland to reunify if supported by border elections in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

UK law says the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland we should order a vote if it “seems likely” the majority of voters want a united Ireland, but it is not clear how they should decide this. The Irish government must also agree to this.

Brexit, which was opposed by the majority of Northern Irish voters, and Northern Ireland Protocolwhich created a border on the Irish Sea with Great Britain, drew attention to issues of national identity.

Northern Ireland has been without a fully functioning government since February and, in a sign of continued divisions, the DUP is boycotting a Stormont renewal over protocol.

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