In Northern Ireland, Catholics now outnumber Protestants. It is a turning point that, combined with Brexit, which is much hated in the region, will further undermine the unity of Britain. This change, recorded by the latest census, created a new ‘Unionist’, pro-British and Protestant majority on the island, a century after the nation’s founding, with Belfast as its capital. The independent Irish state, predominantly Catholic, is based in the south and its capital is Dublin.
At that time, two-thirds of the population was Protestant and one-third Catholic. The 2021 census data shows a very different picture, with 45.7% of respondents identified as Catholic or Catholic-educated, while 43.5% identified as Protestant. According to the previous 2011 census, Protestants outnumbered Catholics by 48% to 45%.
Brexit divides UK: After Scotland, Northern Ireland also wants to vote for independence
“Today’s results are another clear sign of the historic change taking place across the island,” said Michelle O’Neill, leader of Sinn Féin’s Irish nationalists and future prime minister. After winning Brexit in 2016, the Republican Party increased calls for a referendum on independence from Britain, with 56% of Northern Irish voters opposed to divorce. Since then, it has also increased its electoral consensus and in May, surprisingly and for the first time, became the first party in the polls, winning 29% of the vote, against 21.3 for unionists and 13.5 for coalition centrists. . to the feast. A political stalemate has since developed.
Change “has been in the air for some time. They have already lost their political hegemony. “Losing their numerical superiority is another blow,” historian and author Diarmaid Ferriter told the Guardian. Tensions between the two factions remain high despite the end of the Troubles. Before the Good Friday Peace Agreement in 1998, more than 3,000 people died in three decades of fighting between militant Irish republicans, mostly Catholics, in Ireland. , were pro-Protestant British loyalists and wanted unity with the British Army.
Indeed, although Catholics tend to vote for Irish nationalist parties and support a united Ireland, a growing Catholic population does not mean that independence is guaranteed, not only because the referendum on the question must be given in London, but as opinion polls continue to show a majority who prefer to stay in the United Kingdom, not only outside of nationalism, but because they pay less tax there. Because the NHS provides absolutely free medical care in the country. In recent years, a majority of Catholic and Protestant voters, especially young people who did not live through the years of the Troubles, have begun to support the centrist Intercommunity Alliance, which doubled its number of seats in the May election. .
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