Religion and National Identity in Northern Ireland: A Longitudinal Perspective 2001-2011

Dr Ian Shuttleworth (QUB)

Religious denomination is a key element in understanding Northern Ireland society and politics, as it is often equated with national identity and voting intentions. It is also significant in informing debates about equality and resource allocation. Usually it is understood as a two-group ‘green and orange’ issue – Protestants/Unionists and Roman Catholics/Irish Nationalists. However, the 2011 Census showed that there was an appreciable number of ‘nones’ and ‘not stateds’. Moreover, in 2011, there was also a sizeable group who reported a Northern Ireland identity. The ‘nones’, ‘not stateds’ and Northern Irish do not appear to fall easily into the ‘green and orange’ categories and are little understood. The presentation therefore explores the social and demographic backgrounds of the ‘nones’, the ‘not stateds’ and the Northern Irish in 2011 and relates this to their individual background and where they lived in 2001. It examines who changed religious denomination between 2001 and 2011, and focusses on the religious affiliation in 2001 of those who reported they were ‘none’ or refused to state a religion in 2011. It also answers questions about whether those who became ‘nones’ or ‘not stateds’ by 2011 tended to be better-off and more residentially mobile than those who reported the same denomination in 2001 and 2011.

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