Northern Ireland news

Catholic population has risen steadily

Census data has shown more people identify as Catholic in Northern Ireland than Protestant for the first time. Photo/Paul McErlane.
Allan Preston

THE growth of the Catholic population in the north has continued steadily since the first Northern Ireland census in 1926 - dipping only during the early years of the Troubles.

In the 1926 Census - the first since the partition of Ireland in 1921 - the population in the north stood at 1.2m compared with more than 1.9m today.

Protestant churches and ‘other denominations' made up at 66.3 per cent of the population while Catholics accounted for 33.5 per cent.

In the 1971 Census - the first taken since the start of the Troubles in 1969 - the Catholic population had fallen slightly to 31.4 per cent.

Those identifying as Protestant also fell to 59.2 per cent while those who did not state their religious background rose sharply to142,511 - accounting for 9.4 per cent of the population.

By 1981, those identifying as Catholic was at its lowest with 28 per cent.

People identifying as Protestant stood at 53.4 per cent while those who did not state their religion rose significantly to 18.5 per cent.

In 1991, the census data showed a Catholic population of 38.4 per cent with 50.7 per cent identifying as Protestant.

By 2001 the Catholic population accounted for 43.8 per cent while 53.1 per cent identified as Protestant.

A decade later 45 per cent of the population identified as Catholic while those from the Protestant tradition fell to 48 per cent.

Northern Ireland news