Census 2001: a summary

In July we argued that the potential for the census results effect a substantial change in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland was limited. But as we got closer to release of the actual figures, and even here at the Letter to Slugger O’Toole the speculation grew feverish at times.

Reg Empey counseled caution, whilst Sinn Fein saw the anticipated declining numbers in the Protestant community, as a signal to unionists to accept the inevitability of unification with the Republic. Rosie Cowan’s account of the numerical balance in education gave rise to a large number of comments from readers (reprised here).

In the event, much of the pre-announcement speculation proved to be inaccurate. Jeffrey Donaldson claimed it as a setback for Nationalism but Chris Thornton, perhaps more astutely, viewed it as a political watershed. Anthony McIntyre gave his summation of the weakness of relying on demographics as an engine for re-unification.

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