Irish Republican News · May 24, 2013
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Census figures highlight plight of northern Catholics


Catholics in the north of Ireland are in poorer health, are more likely to be unemployed and live in more crowded households compared to Protestants, latest census figures show.

The recently released figures also gave a more detailed breakdown of how people regard their national identity. It indicated Protestants are more determinedly ‘British’ than northern Catholics are Irish.

Fewer than 5 per cent of Protestants in the north of Ireland said they felt Irish, while 10 per cent of Catholics said they felt British.

Only 15 per cent of Protestants felt they had a ‘Northern Ireland’ identity only, compared with 25 per cent of Catholics.

Despite their greater allegiance to ‘Northern Ireland’, Catholics in the Six Counties are 50 per cent more likely to be unemployed, the figures confirmed. They are also 100 per cent more likely to live in overcrowded conditions compared to Protestants, and 40 per cent more likely to suffer from ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ health.

Public health officials expressed concern over what the new figures revealed about the overall aging demographic in the North.

The census shows that over the past 20 years, the number of older people in the North has doubled, particularly among an aging Catholic population. The number of Catholics over the age of 65 has increased at a rate ten times the comparable increase in the Protestant population over the past decade.


Robert Beatty of the North’s Statistics and Research Agency warned that by 2025 there will be more people aged over 65 than children under 15.

“If current population projections are realised, there will obviously be major consequences for our health service,” he said.

Dr Dermot O’Reilly from Queen’s University Belfast said the aging population is “driving the increasing level of carers and the people in poor health and the need for long stays in institutions.”

The figures have thrown a new light on a controversial attempt by DUP Health Minister Edwin Poots to close six care homes for the elderly in the predominately Catholic western health region.

The news of the closures earlier this month caused significant stress for those elderly who were told they were to be evicted from care facilites in Derry and elsewhere. Following an uproar, however, the decision was reversed and the Minister forced to apologise to those affected.

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