Census 2001: Inaccuate forecasts

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

Census 2001: Press round up

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

Census 2001: Figures released

The key figures are now available. The introduction and table of contents here may help with navigation. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

Census 2001: Outcomes long rather than short term

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

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. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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.” Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He … Read more

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: 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. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on … Read more

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

Census shock on its way

From Jude Collins, simply the most important story of the week. I cannot vouch for the rest of the speculation in Jude’s piece, but this one aspect alone could be revolutionary in its implications: “When census returns are released this month, the figure beside the Catholic 45% will not be 55% Protestant. When ‘others’ have been factored in, the Protestant population in the north is likely to emerge as less than 50% for the first time in its history.” Such … Read more

Robinson’s plan:summary

In conversation with Frank Millar, Peter Robinson outlined the conditions for his party’s willing engagement with the peace process. He outlined what he believes to be fundamental flaws of the current Agreement. He returned to a theme his colleague Sammy Wilson outlined in more detail a few weeks back – the unaccountability of the institutions. He did not rule out working with Sinn Fein, but this would entail (amongst other things) finding a system that would allow all players to … Read more

Sinn Fein: between the lobby and the street

The Andersonstown News editorialises on the current deadlock, picking up on the recent murder in Ballygowan to suggest that Unionists seem more intent on keeping Sinn Fein out of government. But what’s more interesting about this piece is the detailed analysis of how recent political decisions have effected the social and economic life of nationalist West Belfast, along with a hint that the professionalization of Sinn Fein politics may be causing rifts between them and their traditional power base: “If … Read more

Sovereignty change?

Mitchell McLaughlin in a speech in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, challenged Unionists to declare whether they support the transference of sovereignty in the event that a majority in the North vote for it. On the face of it, it is hard to see the relevance of this concern. Particularly since the Belfast Agreement states in its first clause: “The participants endorse the commitment made by the British and Irish Governments that, in a new British-Irish Agreement replacing the Anglo-Irish Agreement, they … Read more

Religious figures in the census

Are due to be published this month. Though the Census office has not given a date, latest reports suggest that it is on schedule to reach the public before Christmas. In light of this, journalists, politicians and policy makers will be dusting down the many words written on the political demography of Northern Ireland, in preparation for copious amounts of their own wise words on the subject. No doubt John Adams’ Political Demography of Northern Ireland will prove an invaluable … Read more

Blair speech: Completion

This may be the sound bite that outlasts the rest when the time and the place of this speech are long forgotten. Blair calls for decisive action: It’s time for acts of completion. We will do our best to carry on implementing the Agreement in any event. But, should real change occur, we can implement the rest of the Agreement, including on normalisation, in its entirety and not in stages but together. And we are prepared to do what is … Read more

Blair speech: The benefits

The focus changes to the political and economic benefits the Agreement has brought: “…there is still violence, but at a far, far reduced rate – in 1972, 470 people died. This year, so far, ten. Ten too many, but let us recognise the progress made. The transformation in the economy has been enormous: unemployment at its lowest since 1975; long-term unemployment, down 65 per cent since the Agreement; manufacturing up 15 per cent, uniquely in the UK. New jobs, new … Read more

Suspension; eye witness

In the subscription only Irish News Newton Emerson, editor of the satirical website Portadown News was in Stormont on the last day of business. One thing that consistently erks the reasonable middle ground parties is the way that most commentators rarely talk to them: “The Women’s Coalition are first to brave the spotlight. Cruelly, several reporters take this opportunity to make final adjustments to their cameras and microphones. There are no questions. As they leave, the DUP arrives and the … Read more

Suspension; winners and losers

Malachi O’Doherty is the first one I’ve seen to evaluate the gains and losses made by each of four main parties through the events of the last fortnight. It’s an interesting exercise, but one that may prove misleading in a process that has become more long term, where many expected early closure. Indeed it is these parties that O’Doherty pinpoints as the main losers. The winner, he declares is the DUP, repeating his observation of last Sunday that Peter Robinson … Read more

Danny Morrison interviews David Ervine

This is a conversation between two men who both share a very direct style of communication. It’s interesting too because it represents countless other conversations that have abounded since the Belfast Agreement. He talks about the proposed exclusion of Sinn Fein from the Executive “When I view the potential for January I’’m saying to myself, ‘”what is it Trimble wants”? How many hoops have people to jump through?’ What I am clear on is what the Republican Movement and loyalists need … Read more