Politics and religious difference in children

To those of you puzzled as to why so much political focus is being put on the religious make-up, this study conducted by three academics and funded by the Community Relations Council in July, might throuw some light on its relevance: “By the ages of five and six large differences were also found among Catholic and Protestant children regarding their preferences for certain first names, colours and football shirts.” “Overall, just over half (51%) of all three years olds were … Read more

Census 2001: Early estimates

Earliest indications from the BBC suggest that the final figures will be more like 53% Protestant and 44% Catholic. Other reports from RTE and UTV concur with this estimate.

Census 2001: Irish speakers

Aside from the issue of total in the religious populations before they were announced this morning, Sinn Fein focused on the rising numbers of Irish speakers, they expect to be demonstrated in the figures.

Britishness is popular with ethnic minorites

Interesting poll in the Guardian suggests that while British is an increasingly unpopular term, the group that most closely relates to the term are the ethnic minorities in Britain. Alison Walker, the principle researcher: “…the biggest divergence from the national trend was among people from the ethnic minorities, with 57% of this group asserting their British identity, 37% claiming “other” nationality and the rest choosing English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish.”

Census 2001: Catholic numbers to be less than predicted?

Gerry Moriarty. Northern Editor of the Irish Times is the first to hint (sub only) that the figures in census currently being bandied around, may prove to be hugely exagerating the final numbers of Catholics in the Province: “Some reports have suggested the Catholic population could be as high as 46 per cent, but this may be too high. It is understood a figure in the lower mid-40s may be more accurate.”

Southern legislation is only temporary?

Though Brian Cowan and Paul Murphy are expected to issue a joint communique agreeing that the recent legislation in the Dail, is only a temporary arrangement, this may not be enough to steady the nerves of many unionists, who view the move as an infringement of UK sovereignty in NI. Such scepticism has it’s roots in the private assurances that David Trimble received at the signing of the Belfast Agreement that Sinn Fein would be excluded if the IRA failed … Read more

NI parties are no more than pressure groups

After David Trimble’s recent overtures to the British Conservatives, this letter from David Wylie to the Belfast Telegraph that seems to speak a major dilemma within the Ulster Unionist party, and indeed most of the NI political parties: “…the UUP, like most other political parties in Northern Ireland, remains a single issue organisation; more a lobbying group at Westminster than a Party able to make a valuable contribution on a wide variety of social, economic and political issues affecting all … Read more

Unionist backroom: Sinn Fein re-entry

The UUP MLA Robert Coulter has called on the Republican movement demonstrate its committment to peace, but it’s clear that the simply taking their seats on the Policing body will not be sufficient to prove good will to mainstream unionists.

Durkan: get the Agreement right first

According to Bimpe Fatogun, Mark Durkan has tried to allay Unionist fears of being pulled into a United Ireland by suggesting that getting local institutions into a functioning and agreed state is more important that questions of sovereignty: “The SDLP has made it clear in the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation that we want to develop a clear understanding that the agreement, with all the arrangements, assurances and accommodations that it offers, will endure whatever the outcome of any future … Read more

DUP to target the anti UUP wing?

Roy Garland questions the motives of the DUP in bringing in Andrew Hunter, and suggests his candidature in Jeffrey Donaldson’s Assembly constituency demostrates that the DUP will targeting the ‘anti-agreement’ wing of the UUP as much as what is left of the ‘Trimblistas’.

Census 2001: Catholic school majority widening

Rosie Cowan goes on to quote some apparently sobering facts: “Four of Northern Ireland’s five cities, Belfast, Derry, Armagh and Newry, now have Catholic majorities – only Lisburn does not – and last year there were 173,000 Catholic schoolchildren, 146,000 Protestants and 22,000 others.” It should be noted that of these cities, only Belfast has changed in the course of the last 40 years. And in any case it masks the fact that the largely protestant Castlereagh Borough Council, controls … Read more

Census 2001: Donaldson replies

Rosie Cowan has a piece on the forthcoming census. It seems to be beginning to concentrate minds. As if in answer to Mitchell McLaughlin yesterday, Jeffrey Donaldson replies that forcing protestants into a united Ireland would be counter productive and went on to suggest that: “…because the suspended Stormont assembly requires separate majorities of both unionists and nationalists to pass legislation, the dual consent principle should apply to any vote on a united Ireland.”

Census 2001: The Sinn Fein take

Chris Thorton reports that Mitchell McLaughlin warns unionists that the demographic trends should not simply be a source of fear, but suggests instead that they: “…they would serve their constituency best by encouraging discussion and debate on how a united Ireland would guarantee equality and human rights for all traditions.” Put like that, it’s an offer that few Unionist are likely to want to be seen to accept.

Census 2001: discussion

I am not sure what has prompted this sudden outbreak of civil and intelligent discussion at Debate Central, but here’s a thread worth following for a while on what Thursday’s census results might give rise to. And this one.

Renegotiations: something is happening

We’re into something approximating a winter silly season, were most commentators are kicking around one or two favourite footballs in the absence of much action actually on the pitch. We are reduced to reading what runes there are to be seen. Something seems to be moving even if it is impossible to hear much outside of the locked negotiation rooms. Leading UUP dissident Jeffrey Donaldson has proposed the cancellation of next month’s adjourned UUC meeting because: “It’s clear the government … Read more

The Letter's current readership

Though it’s best not put too much store by such figures, the Alexa site keeps tabs on a range of commercial and non-commercial websites. This week it has raised the Letter to Slugger O’Toole’s ranking from 1,809,488th to 1,491,385th; up 318,103 places.

Rebel song to top BBC World poll?

Apparently the result of a ‘guerilla’ style voting campaign, an old Irish rebel song A Nation Once Again to the top of a worldwide poll to find the most popular song at the BBC. An email campaign and some online discussion sites may have been instrumental in working up the numbers required to make the song a top contender to make it into The World’s Top Ten. Voting has now ended, but the final chart will be published on 21 … Read more

Adair to be ousted?

Rumours reported in yesterday’s Sunday Life suggest that Johnny Adair’s West Belfast C Company may be seeking to replace with his former second-in-command.

Census 2001: Empey on the rising Catholic population

Reg Empey is the latest Unionist politician to share his thoughts on the potential outcomes of the census when it is announced on Thursday: “While this is no definitive guarantee of how people vote, it is a strong indicator. It must also be remembered that the figures refer to the whole population and not the electorate. But the figures will show a growing Catholic population, a reducing Protestant population as a percentage of the total, and a growing group described … Read more

Secret History of the IRA

If you feel you are never likely to get around to reading this weighty tome on the in workings of one Europe’s oldest and most effective guerilla armies, The Blanket has a compendium of reviews, that are worth flicking through, including Eammon McCann’s epic for the Nation magazine, which the Letter blogged a few months back.