People of Northern Ireland

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People of Northern Ireland
Total population
1,810,863
89% of the population of Northern Ireland are native-born
Regions with significant populations
Throughout Northern Ireland
Religion
Protestantism and Roman Catholicism
Related ethnic groups
British people
Irish people

The people of Northern Ireland are "all persons born in Northern Ireland and having, at the time of their birth, at least one parent who is a British citizen, an Irish citizen or is otherwise entitled to reside in Northern Ireland without any restriction on their period of residence,"[1] under the Belfast Agreement of the British and Irish Governments.

For detailed information about Northern Ireland's population, see Demographics of Northern Ireland.

National identity[edit]

In Northern Ireland, national identity is complex and diverse. The two most common identities are British and Irish. Most people of Protestant background consider themselves British, while a majority of people of Catholic background consider themselves Irish. This has origins in the 17th century Plantation of Ulster, when mainly-Catholic Ulster was colonized by Protestant settlers from Great Britain.

In the early 20th century, most Ulster Protestants and Catholics saw themselves as Irish, although Protestants also had a strong sense of Britishness.[2] With the onset of the Home Rule Crisis and events that followed, Protestants gradually began to abandon Irish identity,[2] as Irishness and Britishness moreso came to be seen as mutually exclusive. In 1968 – just before the onset of the Troubles – 39% of Protestants described themselves as British and 20% described themselves as Irish, while 32% chose an Ulster identity.[3] By 1978, following the worst years of the conflict, there had been a large shift in identity amongst Protestants, with the majority (67%) now calling themselves British and only 8% calling themselves Irish.[3][4] This shift has not been reversed.[4] Meanwhile, the majority of Catholics have continued to see themselves as Irish.[3] In the Republic of Ireland, both Protestants and Catholics overwhelmingly see themselves as Irish.[4]

From 1989, 'Northern Irish' began to be included as an identity choice in surveys, and its popularity has grown since then.[4] Some organizations have promoted 'Northern Irish' identity as a way of overcoming sectarian division. In a 1998 survey of students, this was one of the main reasons they gave for choosing that identity, along with a desire to appear 'neutral'.[5] However, surveys show that 'Northern Irish' identity tends to have different meanings for Catholics and Protestants.[5] Surveys also show that those choosing 'Northern Irish' regard their national identity as less important than those choosing British and Irish.[5]

In the 2011 census, respondents gave their national identity as follows.


Map of predominant national identity in the 2011 census in Northern Ireland


2011 Census[6]
National Identity Respondents
British
876,577
Northern Irish
533,085
Irish
513,390
English, Scottish or Welsh
29,187
Other
61,884


National Identity by Religion[7]

National Identity All Catholic Protestant and other Christian Other religions No religion
British 48.4% 12.9% 81.6% 50.1% 55.9%
Irish 28.4% 57.2% 3.9% 12.4% 14.0%
Northern Irish 29.4% 30.7% 26.9% 18.0% 35.2%
English, Scottish or Welsh 1.6% 0.8% 1.5% 2.9% 5.2%
All other 3.4% 4.4% 1.0% 29.1% 7.1%


Detail by Religion[8]

National Identity All Catholic Protestant and other Christian Other religions No religion
British only 39.9% 10.3% 68.3% 42.4% 42.9%
Irish only 25.3% 53.2% 2.1% 8.1% 9.4%
Northern Irish only 20.9% 26.9% 14.5% 12.0% 23.7%
British and Northern Irish only 6.2% 0.9% 11.1% 3.3% 7.9%
Irish and Northern Irish only 1.1% 2.0% 0.2% 0.5% 0.8%
British, Irish and Northern Irish only 1.0% 0.8% 1.0% 1.0% 2.1%
British and Irish only 0.7% 0.8% 0.5% 0.7% 1.0%
English, Scottish or Welsh only 1.0% 0.6% 0.8% 2.1% 3.5%
Other 4.0% 4.7% 1.6% 29.9% 8.7%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%


National Identity by District[9]

Map of districts of Northern Ireland colour coded to show the predominant national identity. Stronger green indicates a higher proportion of people describing themselves as Irish. Stronger blue indicates a higher proportion of people describing themselves as British. Percentages show the difference between the proportion of people describing themselves as Irish and the proportion of people describing themselves as British. Data from 2011 census
District British Irish Northern Irish English, Scottish or Welsh All Other
Antrim 55.2% 20.1% 30.4% 2.3% 3.9%
Ards 73.6% 7.5% 31.9% 1.9% 1.5%
Armagh 44.4% 32.4% 27.1% 1.1% 3.9%
Ballymena 69.0% 11.1% 27.9% 1.4% 3.8%
Ballymoney 60.6% 16.4% 30.9% 1.7% 1.7%
Banbridge 61.1% 16.2% 31.8% 1.5% 1.8%
Belfast 43.2% 34.8% 26.8% 1.5% 5.1%
Carrickfergus 76.5% 5.3% 30.3% 2.1% 1.8%
Castlereagh 66.2% 14.7% 31.3% 1.5% 2.6%
Coleraine 62.4% 14.5% 31.6% 2.0% 3.2%
Cookstown 37.3% 33.5% 32.1% 1.2% 3.7%
Craigavon 48.3% 25.6% 28.7% 1.4% 6.4%
Derry 23.7% 55.0% 24.6% 1.4% 2.0%
Down 40.2% 32.2% 34.1% 1.9% 2.0%
Dungannon 30.9% 38.8% 27.1% 0.9% 9.6%
Fermanagh 37.2% 36.1% 29.5% 1.7% 3.1%
Larne 69.8% 10.1% 31.4% 2.1% 1.2%
Limavady 42.2% 32.0% 30.7% 1.5% 1.4%
Lisburn 55.6% 24.7% 28.7% 2.0% 2.4%
Magherafelt 31.4% 42.7% 29.8% 1.0% 2.8%
Moyle 38.6% 34.1% 32.1% 2.2% 1.4%
Newry and Mourne 20.2% 53.0% 27.6% 1.2% 4.3%
Newtownabbey 66.5% 13.4% 31.2% 1.3% 2.4%
North Down 71.1% 9.1% 33.0% 3.0% 2.4%
Omagh 28.6% 40.9% 32.7% 1.1% 3.4%
Strabane 33.0% 39.2% 31.8% 1.4% 1.3%


National identity by religion or religion brought up in for each district[9]

District Catholic Protestant and other Christian Other Religion or None
British Irish Northern Irish All Other British Irish Northern Irish All Other British Irish Northern Irish All Other
Antrim 23.1% 43.7% 34.2% 7.1% 80.6% 3.1% 27.8% 3.3% 60.4% 6.5% 26.8% 19.0%
Ards 34.1% 31.7% 38.2% 6.4% 80.9% 3.7% 30.4% 2.2% 67.7% 6.0% 35.1% 9.1%
Armagh 7.1% 62.5% 28.7% 6.2% 81.6% 3.6% 25.7% 2.3% 49.3% 10.5% 25.1% 25.3%
Ballymena 24.6% 38.9% 34.7% 11.0% 83.6% 2.7% 25.7% 2.5% 62.3% 6.5% 28.4% 14.4%
Ballymoney 19.0% 44.5% 38.8% 4.1% 81.1% 2.9% 27.2% 2.2% 65.1% 8.4% 28.0% 13.3%
Banbridge 22.6% 41.7% 39.4% 4.5% 81.2% 3.8% 27.7% 2.0% 59.1% 8.3% 33.8% 11.5%
Belfast 11.7% 64.3% 25.0% 5.6% 78.3% 5.5% 28.7% 3.6% 47.7% 13.3% 27.5% 26.3%
Carrickfergus 41.1% 24.6% 35.6% 10.7% 82.0% 3.0% 29.2% 2.4% 68.3% 5.3% 33.7% 8.5%
Castlereagh 22.1% 50.0% 34.5% 6.3% 81.3% 3.9% 29.9% 2.3% 61.9% 8.9% 33.7% 11.8%
Coleraine 25.0% 39.2% 36.5% 8.4% 79.1% 4.3% 29.3% 2.6% 56.5% 10.3% 33.4% 16.8%
Cookstown 8.1% 53.8% 37.7% 5.2% 82.5% 3.6% 24.0% 2.1% 44.2% 9.1% 24.4% 31.5%
Craigavon 12.2% 51.2% 31.5% 10.6% 82.5% 3.2% 26.3% 2.7% 49.9% 9.1% 26.7% 26.4%
Derry 7.3% 70.5% 24.3% 2.5% 76.7% 7.2% 25.9% 3.5% 39.4% 24.7% 21.9% 26.2%
Down 20.1% 47.4% 37.1% 2.9% 77.4% 5.6% 28.7% 3.6% 52.1% 14.4% 32.1% 16.7%
Dungannon 5.7% 57.6% 28.6% 13.0% 79.6% 4.5% 24.5% 3.0% 33.3% 12.0% 22.8% 42.1%
Fermanagh 11.4% 56.2% 32.4% 4.8% 77.1% 6.2% 25.5% 3.0% 43.4% 16.8% 24.0% 28.1%
Larne 38.8% 30.6% 37.7% 3.0% 81.7% 3.0% 28.6% 2.5% 64.1% 6.5% 35.4% 12.1%
Limavady 18.1% 50.5% 34.4% 2.5% 79.8% 4.1% 24.9% 2.5% 51.4% 10.9% 28.8% 18.7%
Lisburn 16.5% 58.6% 27.8% 4.3% 80.2% 4.7% 29.0% 3.2% 62.2% 8.8% 30.3% 13.9%
Magherafelt 6.5% 62.1% 33.0% 3.8% 82.4% 4.2% 23.1% 2.3% 46.9% 13.4% 30.2% 22.1%
Moyle 14.6% 53.1% 35.3% 2.8% 76.3% 5.0% 27.8% 3.3% 49.4% 17.8% 23.8% 19.8%
Newry and Mourne 7.1% 64.7% 28.0% 5.0% 76.3% 5.8% 26.8% 3.8% 34.6% 22.8% 22.1% 28.9%
Newtownabbey 24.7% 46.1% 34.1% 5.7% 80.9% 3.4% 30.1% 1.7% 63.1% 7.3% 32.1% 12.3%
North Down 37.1% 31.5% 36.1% 9.7% 78.8% 5.2% 31.9% 3.4% 63.7% 7.9% 35.7% 11.6%
Omagh 8.7% 55.7% 36.0% 4.4% 78.5% 4.9% 25.0% 2.5% 40.6% 15.9% 23.7% 28.9%
Strabane 8.9% 57.4% 35.4% 2.6% 79.2% 4.7% 25.2% 1.9% 40.9% 21.1% 25.5% 26.4%


National Identity by Age[6]

Map of districts of Northern Ireland colour coded to show the predominant national identity amongst Catholics. Stronger green indicates a higher proportion of Catholics describing themselves as Irish. Blue indicates a higher proportion of Catholics describing themselves as British than as Irish. Percentages show the difference between the proportion of Catholics describing themselves as Irish and the proportion of Catholics describing themselves as British. Data from 2011 census
Ages attained (years) British Irish Northern Irish English, Scottish or Welsh All other
0 to 15 45.1% 31.4% 30.5% 0.9% 3.6%
16 to 24 44.2% 32.3% 29.6% 1.5% 3.3%
25 to 34 40.5% 31.0% 30.0% 1.7% 8.6%
35 to 44 47.3% 28.7% 29.3% 2.1% 4.5%
45 to 54 50.8% 28.3% 28.0% 1.9% 2.2%
55 to 64 54.5% 24.9% 28.8% 1.9% 1.1%
65 to 74 57.5% 21.3% 29.8% 1.7% 0.4%
75 to 84 58.6% 19.6% 29.1% 1.6% 0.3%
85 and over 61.7% 18.0% 26.5% 2.0% 0.2%

Surveys[edit]

According to the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey,[10] individuals from Northern Ireland identify as (best preference choice):

In the 2007 Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey,[11] the question was asked, "thinking about each of these national identities in turn, how strongly do you feel yourself to be [Irish/British/Northern Irish/Ulster?]" Individuals responded for each of the identities as follows:

Northern Irish

  • Very strongly 50%
  • Not very strongly 34%
  • Not at all 15%
  • Don't know 0%

British

  • Very strongly 37%
  • Not very strongly 41%
  • Not at all 22%
  • Don't know 0%

Irish

  • Very strongly 36%
  • Not very strongly 41%
  • Not at all 23%
  • Don't know 0%

Ulster

  • Very strongly 31%
  • Not very strongly 40%
  • Not at all 28%
  • Don't know 1%

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Good Friday Agreement guarantees the "recognition of the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose."
    "Agreement reached in the multi-party negotiations". Conflict Archive on the INternet. University of Ulster. 10 April 1998. Retrieved 13 May 2008. 
  2. ^ a b Walker, Brian. "British or Irish - who do you think you are?". Belfast Telegraph, 10 December 2008.
  3. ^ a b c Moxon-Browne, Edward. "National identity in Northern Ireland". Social Attitudes in Northern Ireland: First Report. Blackstaff Press, 1991.
  4. ^ a b c d Conflict and Consensus: A Study of Values and Attitudes in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Institute of Public Administration, 2005. pp.60-62
  5. ^ a b c McKeown, Shelley. Identity, Segregation and Peace-building in Northern Ireland. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. p.32
  6. ^ a b "Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service". Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service". Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  8. ^ "Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service". Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service". Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "Which of these best describes the way you think of yourself?". Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey. ARK - Access Research Knowledge. 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2008. 
  11. ^ "Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey 2007". Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey. ARK - Access Research Knowledge. 22 December 2009. Retrieved 9 October 2010.