Sunday journalists have the advantage over their daily counterparts of having a few days to pass by before they finally commit their copy . Tom McGurk in the Sunday Business Post, has had a few days to consider the wider picture around the Census and concludes: …the whole purpose of the new politics is to end the imperative of sectarian headcounts, indeed to begin the process of finally liberating the Irish body politic from the dysfunctional, post-colonial impact of Westminster, … Read more
There has been a lot of contention around the change in the proportions of pupils in each sector of the education system. Here are the latest figures from the Department of Education NI, courtesy of reader Howard.
To lighten the day, the latest Portadown News.
To pick up on how this story has been set up over the last few years, have a look at John Adams’ resume of opinion pieces, complete with links, and this article from Anthony McIntyre. Both look at the issue from a Nationalist point of view but, until now, that is where most of the comment and speculation has come from.
The Daily Telegraph sees the results as a major set-back for Republican strategists, something dissident Republican commentator Anthony McIntyre echoes strongly in this week’s edition of the Blanket: Nationalist number crunchers have been frustrated on two major counts. Firstly, the share of the nationalists fell considerably short of the anticipated 46%. Secondly, the unionists were more than 3% over the predicted minus-50%. Their psychological doomsday simply failed to approach the green horizon. “The big mistake of the nationalist hopefuls may … Read more
The Examiner’s reaction to Wednesday’s leak is to suggest that the UUP needs to get its act together and provide an opposition to the DUP.
All the remaining Unionists walked out after Trimble’s exit from the talks yesterday at Stormont. Today according to this article in the Irish Times Trimble warned will that his party will not return unless the Governments guarantee Sinn Fein will be banned from taking their seats on any future executive. With Sinn Fein saying the IRA will not fold to any Unionist pressure to disarm, it appears to be a perplexing state of stalemate.
If you are still confused, try this run down of the census results from Bob Osbourne, University of Ulster.
Chris Thornton in relaxed mode, provides a quick demographic history of Belfast over the last 50 years, before concluding, perhaps more perceptively than most caught up in the simple mathematics of it all: “The question of a united Ireland is far from settled. But for those who equate unionism simply with the protection of Protestant rights, it is clear that Northern Ireland will never be the same again.”
The NI Secretary of State, Paul Murphy has tried to calm the feverish speculation over the census: Once the dust settles today, I hope the majority will see the census as a useful reminder of what the Belfast Agreement was all about. Because at the heart of the Agreement, was a recognition that the bitter divisions of Northern Ireland will never be solved by mere demographics.
Jeffrey Donaldson believes that the religious figures represent a scaling back of nationalist ambitions to bring about a United Ireland within the foreseeable future.
The argument over what precisely the figures mean begins to take over the political discourse. UTV has an impressive compendium of opinion. Amongst many others David Ford probably speaks as well for the ‘middle ground’ as anyone else: “We need to inject a degree of realism into this hyped debate, as it is increasingly obvious that there is a sizeable proportion of people in Northern Ireland who do not want to be classified as either Catholic or Protestant. Government policy … Read more
There are some interesting numbers that come out of the Census report – and it’s not all about religion!
In the context of the announcement of the latest figures, academic Richard Bourke tries to get to the bottom of the current constitutional hiatus in NI. He suggests there are key two principles within the Belfast Agreement that are working in direct contradiction: the need for dual consent within the current parliamentary structure; and possibility that transference of sovereignty could be decided on a simple majority vote. In this he see a huge irony: “…this entitlement amounts to a reassertion … Read more
Today was to see David Trimble joining the interparty talks at Stormont for the first time since they began. But in light of the news of the leaked documents in Dublin yesterday, he walked out. However the underlying reason may be that in the absense of moves on the long awaited decommissioning of the IRA, he may feel he is leaving himself vulnerable to political counter moves whilst caught inside the negotiating chamber. The Sinn Fein negotiating team, for instance, … Read more
Despite recent headlines to the contrary, Gerry Moriarty in the subscription only Irish Times, believes the actual figures are good news for ‘Protestants’: “The 53/44 figure will provide some reassurance for unionists who were confronted with a number of recent media reports suggesting that the Catholic population would be as high as 46 per cent and the Protestant/unionist population would be under 50 per cent.” “Such figures would have signified a dramatic rise in the Catholic population of 4 per … Read more
Uh oh! Someone in the Republic’s government has sprung a very awkward leak. Embarrassing details were released to the press when a dossier was inadvertently left behind in the press area at yesterday’s meeting of the the Republic’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Alan Cowen and Paul Murphy. More in the subscription only Irish Times.
David McKitterick reports a rise in the numbers of Catholics in Belfast. In the Examiner, Dan Buckley focuses on population changes in Belfasts, that have practical effects: “Many Catholic districts of Belfast are now bursting at the seams, while some Protestant zones are half-empty, illustrating a demographic change which may have huge political consequences.” In the Newsletter, Suzanne Breen returns to the the partition of the historic 9 county province of Ulster to find context for the magnitude of the … Read more
The key figures are now available. The introduction and table of contents here may help with navigation.
Unionist commentator and advisor to David Trimble, Steven King suggests that the All-Ireland corks may have been popping too soon. He points out: “Department of Education figures show that the proportion of children educated at Catholic primary schools is below 50% and is falling year on year by 0.2%. Looking at the youngest section of the population, the number of children admitted at P1 level last year at (Protestant) controlled schools was 11,675 but just 10,931 at (Catholic) maintained schools.” … Read more