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Northern Ireland’s Catholics and Protestants : issues in the 2001 census.

Population and Societies

390, May 2003

Northern Ireland’s Catholics and Protestants: issues in the 2001 census

  • Cold comfort for Catholics?
  • A sharper overall drop in Catholic fertility
  • The political importance of the residual categories
  • Population projections in the debate on the country’s political future

The outputs of the April 2001 Northern Ireland census were eagerly awaited by Unionists, who want to stay within the United Kingdom, and Nationalists, seeking reunification with Ireland. Both were keen to discover how their respective population totals measured up at this, as at every previous, ten-year census, and hence the current demographic load of the two communities—Protestant and Catholic. The mood was particularly tense as the long-standing conflict which has riven the province, with its accompanying political violence and party divisions, had heated up throughout 2002.

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