In Northern Ireland, what are the implications of the province’s demographic evolution?

In Northern Ireland, what are the implications of the province's demographic evolution?

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For the first time since its formation in 1921, Northern Ireland’s latest census shows that Catholics outnumber Protestants. How would the data from this census strengthen the inclination of republicans, often Catholics, to call for the annexation of Northern Ireland to the Irish Republic?

This is a demographic fact that may have serious political implications. In 1921, when the British, forced to grant independence to the rest of Ireland, created the province of Northern Ireland to remain united with Great Britain, that was exactly the demographic situation – unionist Protestants were the majority in the north. The island – somehow legitimized the existence of this province, delineated by the weight of Protestants.

Since its creation over a century ago, the United Kingdom has therefore appeased the Protestant majority and greatly displeased Catholics, who are mainly republicans and have demanded attachment to their big sister in Ireland. They demanded better equal treatment of the ruling Unionists with the support of London and the province’s politics and economy. It was these unacknowledged demands that led to the infamous Troubles in Northern Ireland, 30 years of clashes between Catholic republicans and unionist Protestants that left 3,500 dead.

A fundamental deviation that exists

Things calmed down only with the consent of Good Friday 1998 Creating power sharing. But a fragile and complex appeasement: the political system has often been blocked by divisions between the two communities. Because the fundamental divergence remains: Unionists want to remain in the United Kingdom while a large proportion of Catholics want to join Ireland. From this point of view, demographics watch each other like milk on fire.

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So the significance of the latest census indicates that 42.3% of the population identifies as Catholic and 37.3% as Protestant or other Christian religions. The figure could only prompt Sinn Féin, the main republican party that won the provincial election last May – again for the first time – to ask London to hold a referendum on attachment to Ireland, hence the eventual separation from Great Britain. Britain.

As for Protestants, some feel their identity is threatened, especially in the context of Brexit, and they are calling on London to support them by tearing up the agreement on Northern Ireland’s protocol. A protocol that establishes a boundary In truth The Irish Sea lies between their province and the rest of Great Britain. At the risk of creating extreme tension with the EU, which did not want to hear about it, the new Prime Minister Liz Truss, then head of diplomacy, took the first step in this direction. On the other hand, the British government is asking the DUP party’s unionists not to block provincial institutions, as they did after Sinn Fein’s victory.

In this tense situation, the census is more bad news for Unionists in Northern Ireland.

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