People of Northern Ireland

Northern Irish people is a demonym for all people born in Northern Ireland, or an ethnic group of people who were born in or grew up in Northern Ireland, or people who are entitled to reside in Northern Ireland without any restriction on their period of residence. Most Northern Irish people either identify as Northern Irish, Irish, British, or some combination thereof.[1]

Northern Irish people
Total population
1,810,863
89% of the population of Northern Ireland are native-born
Regions with significant populations
Throughout Northern Ireland; and to a lesser degree the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain (highest proportions in Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle upon Tyne)
Languages
Religion
Christianity (48% Protestant, especially Presbyterianism, Anglicanism and Methodism, 45% Roman Catholic), atheism, Judaism
Related ethnic groups

National identity

In Northern Ireland, national identity is complex and diverse. The question of national identity[2] was asked in the 2011 census with the three most common identities given being British, Northern Irish 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 tended to have a much stronger sense of Britishness.[3] With the onset of the Home Rule Crisis and events that followed, Protestants gradually began to abandon Irish identity,[3] as Irishness and Britishness became more and more 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.[4] 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.[4][5] This shift has not been reversed.[5] Meanwhile, the majority of Catholics have continued to 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.[5] 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'.[6] However, surveys show that 'Northern Irish' identity tends to have different meanings for Catholics and Protestants.[6] Surveys also show that those choosing 'Northern Irish' regard their national identity as less important than those choosing British and Irish.[6]

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

2011 census[7]
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[8]

Those people in Northern Ireland who fall into the category of other religions amounts to less than one percent of the population.

National IdentityAllCatholicProtestant and other ChristianOther religionsNo religion
British48.4%12.9%81.6%50.1%55.9%
Irish28.4%57.2%3.9%12.4%14.0%
Northern Irish29.4%30.7%26.9%18.0%35.2%
English, Scottish or Welsh1.6%0.8%1.5%2.9%5.2%
All other3.4%4.4%1.0%29.1%7.1%


Detail by Religion[9]

Note that Northern Ireland is made up of approximately 42% Protestant; 41% Roman Catholic; 17% no religion; and 0.8% other religions.

National IdentityAllCatholicProtestant and other ChristianOther religionsNo religion
British only39.9%10.3%68.3%42.4%42.9%
Irish only25.3%53.2%2.1%8.1%9.4%
Northern Irish only20.9%26.9%14.5%12.0%23.7%
British and Northern Irish only6.2%0.9%11.1%3.3%7.9%
Irish and Northern Irish only1.1%2.0%0.2%0.5%0.8%
British, Irish and Northern Irish only1.0%0.8%1.0%1.0%2.1%
British and Irish only0.7%0.8%0.5%0.7%1.0%
English, Scottish or Welsh only1.0%0.6%0.8%2.1%3.5%
Other4.0%4.7%1.6%29.9%8.7%
Total100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%


National Identity by District[10]

DistrictBritishIrishNorthern IrishEnglish, Scottish or WelshAll Other
Antrim55.2%20.1%30.4%2.3%3.9%
Ards73.6%7.5%31.9%1.9%1.5%
Armagh44.4%32.4%27.1%1.1%3.9%
Ballymena69.0%11.1%27.9%1.4%3.8%
Ballymoney60.6%16.4%30.9%1.7%1.7%
Banbridge61.1%16.2%31.8%1.5%1.8%
Belfast43.2%34.8%26.8%1.5%5.1%
Carrickfergus76.5%5.3%30.3%2.1%1.8%
Castlereagh66.2%14.7%31.3%1.5%2.6%
Coleraine62.4%14.5%31.6%2.0%3.2%
Cookstown37.3%33.5%32.1%1.2%3.7%
Craigavon48.3%25.6%28.7%1.4%6.4%
Derry23.7%55.0%24.6%1.4%2.0%
Down40.2%32.2%34.1%1.9%2.0%
Dungannon30.9%38.8%27.1%0.9%9.6%
Fermanagh37.2%36.1%29.5%1.7%3.1%
Larne69.8%10.1%31.4%2.1%1.2%
Limavady42.2%32.0%30.7%1.5%1.4%
Lisburn55.6%24.7%28.7%2.0%2.4%
Magherafelt31.4%42.7%29.8%1.0%2.8%
Moyle38.6%34.1%32.1%2.2%1.4%
Newry and Mourne20.2%53.0%27.6%1.2%4.3%
Newtownabbey66.5%13.4%31.2%1.3%2.4%
North Down71.1%9.1%33.0%3.0%2.4%
Omagh28.6%40.9%32.7%1.1%3.4%
Strabane33.0%39.2%31.8%1.4%1.3%


National identity by religion or religion brought up in for each district[10]

District Catholic Protestant and other Christian Other Religion or None
BritishIrishNorthern IrishAll OtherBritishIrishNorthern IrishAll OtherBritishIrishNorthern IrishAll Other
Antrim23.1%43.7%34.2%7.1%80.6%3.1%27.8%3.3%60.4%6.5%26.8%19.0%
Ards34.1%31.7%38.2%6.4%80.9%3.7%30.4%2.2%67.7%6.0%35.1%9.1%
Armagh7.1%62.5%28.7%6.2%81.6%3.6%25.7%2.3%49.3%10.5%25.1%25.3%
Ballymena24.6%38.9%34.7%11.0%83.6%2.7%25.7%2.5%62.3%6.5%28.4%14.4%
Ballymoney19.0%44.5%38.8%4.1%81.1%2.9%27.2%2.2%65.1%8.4%28.0%13.3%
Banbridge22.6%41.7%39.4%4.5%81.2%3.8%27.7%2.0%59.1%8.3%33.8%11.5%
Belfast11.7%64.3%25.0%5.6%78.3%5.5%28.7%3.6%47.7%13.3%27.5%26.3%
Carrickfergus41.1%24.6%35.6%10.7%82.0%3.0%29.2%2.4%68.3%5.3%33.7%8.5%
Castlereagh22.1%50.0%34.5%6.3%81.3%3.9%29.9%2.3%61.9%8.9%33.7%11.8%
Coleraine25.0%39.2%36.5%8.4%79.1%4.3%29.3%2.6%56.5%10.3%33.4%16.8%
Cookstown8.1%53.8%37.7%5.2%82.5%3.6%24.0%2.1%44.2%9.1%24.4%31.5%
Craigavon12.2%51.2%31.5%10.6%82.5%3.2%26.3%2.7%49.9%9.1%26.7%26.4%
Derry7.3%70.5%24.3%2.5%76.7%7.2%25.9%3.5%39.4%24.7%21.9%26.2%
Down20.1%47.4%37.1%2.9%77.4%5.6%28.7%3.6%52.1%14.4%32.1%16.7%
Dungannon5.7%57.6%28.6%13.0%79.6%4.5%24.5%3.0%33.3%12.0%22.8%42.1%
Fermanagh11.4%56.2%32.4%4.8%77.1%6.2%25.5%3.0%43.4%16.8%24.0%28.1%
Larne38.8%30.6%37.7%3.0%81.7%3.0%28.6%2.5%64.1%6.5%35.4%12.1%
Limavady18.1%50.5%34.4%2.5%79.8%4.1%24.9%2.5%51.4%10.9%28.8%18.7%
Lisburn16.5%58.6%27.8%4.3%80.2%4.7%29.0%3.2%62.2%8.8%30.3%13.9%
Magherafelt6.5%62.1%33.0%3.8%82.4%4.2%23.1%2.3%46.9%13.4%30.2%22.1%
Moyle14.6%53.1%35.3%2.8%76.3%5.0%27.8%3.3%49.4%17.8%23.8%19.8%
Newry and Mourne7.1%64.7%28.0%5.0%76.3%5.8%26.8%3.8%34.6%22.8%22.1%28.9%
Newtownabbey24.7%46.1%34.1%5.7%80.9%3.4%30.1%1.7%63.1%7.3%32.1%12.3%
North Down37.1%31.5%36.1%9.7%78.8%5.2%31.9%3.4%63.7%7.9%35.7%11.6%
Omagh8.7%55.7%36.0%4.4%78.5%4.9%25.0%2.5%40.6%15.9%23.7%28.9%
Strabane8.9%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[7]

Ages attained (years)BritishIrishNorthern IrishEnglish, Scottish or WelshAll other
0 to 1545.1%31.4%30.5%0.9%3.6%
16 to 2444.2%32.3%29.6%1.5%3.3%
25 to 3440.5%31.0%30.0%1.7%8.6%
35 to 4447.3%28.7%29.3%2.1%4.5%
45 to 5450.8%28.3%28.0%1.9%2.2%
55 to 6454.5%24.9%28.8%1.9%1.1%
65 to 7457.5%21.3%29.8%1.7%0.4%
75 to 8458.6%19.6%29.1%1.6%0.3%
85 and over61.7%18.0%26.5%2.0%0.2%

Surveys

In 1998 the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey started asking respondents whether they think of themselves as British, Irish, Ulster, or Northern Irish. According to the 2018 survey of this series, individuals from Northern Ireland identify as:[11]

How strongly do you feel yourself to be British[12]/Irish[13]/Ulster[14]/Northern Irish[15]?

In the 2007 Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey,[16] 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[15]

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

British[12]

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

Irish[13]

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

Ulster[14]

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

See also

References

  1. Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey 2018
  2. CAIN - 2011 Census, Background Information on Northern Ireland Society - Population and Vital Statistics
  3. Walker, Brian. "British or Irish - who do you think you are?". Belfast Telegraph, 10 December 2008.
  4. Moxon-Browne, Edward. "National identity in Northern Ireland". Social Attitudes in Northern Ireland: First Report. Blackstaff Press, 1991.
  5. 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
  6. McKeown, Shelley. Identity, Segregation and Peace-building in Northern Ireland. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. p.32
  7. "Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service". Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  8. "Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service". Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  9. "Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service". Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  10. "Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service". Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  11. "2018 Survey: Do you think of yourself as British/Irish/Ulster/Northern Irish?". Northern Ireland LIFE & TIMES. ARK. 31 May 2019. Archived from the original on 14 September 2019. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  12. "2007 Survey: How strongly to you feel yourself to be British?". Northern Ireland LIFE & TIMES. ARK. 17 May 2007. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  13. "2007 Survey: How strongly to you feel yourself to be Irish?". Northern Ireland LIFE & TIMES. ARK. 17 May 2007. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  14. "2007 Survey: How strongly to you feel yourself to be Ulster?". Northern Ireland LIFE & TIMES. ARK. 17 May 2007. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  15. "2007 Survey: How strongly to you feel yourself to be Northern Irish?". Northern Ireland LIFE & TIMES. ARK. 17 May 2007. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  16. "Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey 2007". Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey. ARK - Access Research Knowledge. 22 December 2009. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
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