Despite the political stalemate, are most of us neithers?

More people in Northern Ireland identify as ‘neither’, than as unionist or nationalist. I did a double take when I read this in Katy Hayward’s Guardian piece yesterday. It doesn’t feel like it right now. It couldn’t possibly be true?

It’s true.

Here are the latest figures.

This isn’t reflected in the way we vote though. So, does this mean the neithers are secretly at loggerheads? Probably not. In Katy’s words,

“The electoral dominance of Sinn Féin and the DUP is not an expression of passion for hardline nationalism and unionism – it is a consequence of moderate voters’ fear of what hardline nationalism and unionism would mean for the fragile stability of this place. So centre-ground voters end up gaming the system and voting for the party best placed to block the hardline position that they most fear. And as they do, the complexity, the messiness, the nuances of Northern Ireland is wiped over by the simple narrative of distrust and division and blame.”

As we navigate our way through this mess, which surely we will, it’s worth remembering that there is more to us than a simple binary. Most of our entangled lives make a mockery of it on a daily basis. Nowt wrong with being a unionist or a nationalist. It’s just that we usually forget about the huge swell of people in between. Maybe one day our politics will reflect this. Until such a time, I’m going to pin this graph to my bathroom mirror to remind myself that things are rarely as stark as they seem.

Discover more from Slugger O'Toole

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

We are reader supported. Donate to keep Slugger lit!

For over 20 years, Slugger has been an independent place for debate and new ideas. We have published over 40,000 posts and over one and a half million comments on the site. Each month we have over 70,000 readers. All this we have accomplished with only volunteers we have never had any paid staff.

Slugger does not receive any funding, and we respect our readers, so we will never run intrusive ads or sponsored posts. Instead, we are reader-supported. Help us keep Slugger independent by becoming a friend of Slugger. While we run a tight ship and no one gets paid to write, we need money to help us cover our costs.

If you like what we do, we are asking you to consider giving a monthly donation of any amount, or you can give a one-off donation. Any amount is appreciated.