Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Registrar General Annual Report 2010

The 2010 Annual Report of the Register Generals Annual Report for 2010 was published today. It provides a wealth of information relating to the demographic make up of Northern Ireland.

Information provided includes births in 2010, deaths in 2010 and as well as information on marriages, divorces and civil partnerships.

Although the report does not determine the community background of those born and deceased in 2010, Appendix 2 provides details of the breakdown of births and deaths by District Council. We know that of Northern Ireland's 26 District Councils can be divided into 11 majority Catholic/Nationalist Districts, 12 majority Protestant/Unionist Districts and 3 evenly balanced Districts (i.e. no community has a greater representation than 55%).

The table below shows the birth and death rates for each District Council in each of the three groups using the data provided in the report

The average bith rate of the Catholic majoity areas in 2010 is 14.4 (per 1,000 population) which is 11.6% higher than the Protestant birth rate of 12.9. The average birth rate in Northern Ireland as a whole was 14.1

The average death rate in Protestant dominated district councils in 2010 was 8.4 (per 1,000 population) compared to 7.1 in Catholic majority district councils which is a greater figure by 18.3%. The average death rate in Northern Ireland as a whole was 8.0.

It must be noted that the three groups in the table are based on the 2001 census and it is likely that some of District Councils actually belong in a different group. For example Lisburn probably belongs in the balanced group. However the 2011 census results will provide the facts.

These trends are consistent over the last number of years as shown by the tables below.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The cat is in the sack!

As Mr. Trappatonni says the cat is in the sack and the sack is closed. In other words Ireland have qualified  for the European Championship 2012, the first major tournament in ten years and first European Championship in 24 years.

Who can forget Euro 88 and Ray Houghton's header to give Ireland a famous victory over the Old Enemy in Stuttgart or Ronnie Whelan's wonder volley against the Soviet Union in Hanover.

Ireland supporters always travel in huge numbers and it will be no different next June with Polish "phrasebooks and jump  leads for the van" being sought in all 32 Counties. For those who can't make the epic journey to Polkraine, there will be football barbeques and parties from Derry to Cork and Galway to Dublin as the boys in green take part in this prestigous festival of football.

This is a much needed boost for the country and with players of the calibre of Given, Dunne, O'Shea, McGeady, Duff, Gibson and Keane and a world class manager in Giovanni Trappatoni there is much reason to be optimistic of the nations prospects this summer.

Come on You Boys In Green!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Penny Has Dropped!

In an interview with The Times newspapeer reported by RTÉ, the leader of Irish Unionism Peter Robinson has stated that the future of NI as a part of the UK will depend on Catholic votes and that he could be the last Unionist First Minister.

Asked whether he could be Northern Ireland's last unionist first minister, Mr Robinson said: "Yes, but the assumption behind your question is that the Catholic population will not vote for unionist parties."

Of course Catholics do not generally vote for Unionist parties so Mr. Robinson would appear to be clutching at straws. Even if Protestant alienation of Catholics was to discontinue, this would be unlikely to change.

The article implies the reasoning behind Mr Robinsons comments as due to demographic change backed up by interesting statistics

"A 2001 census recorded the Northern Irish population as 53.1% Protestant and 43.8% Catholic, with the 2011 census expected to show a narrowing of the gap.

The Times cited a recent national audit showing that when asked to state their religion, 54% of boys and 55% of girls described themselves as Catholic.

Figures out last month found that 49% of Northern Irish students at the province's universities were Catholics, while 35% were Protestants".

The Unionist leader is clearly resigned to the fact that a Catholic plurality in the North is inevitable in the not too distant future and acknowledges that the very survival of the orange state will be detetermined by the very people that were to be excluded in the "Protestant state for a Protestant people".

For the Leader of Unionism to publicly asknowledge that NI is on the verge a Catholic majority is truely momentous. The penny has dropped.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Student demographics

This week we heard remarkable allegations from Jim Allister and Gregory Campbell that Northern Ireland Protestants were under represented in NI Universities. The reason for this we were told was due to the failure of Universities to target Protestants. These allegations came on the back of figures released which show that just one third of Northern Ireland students are Protestant.

Indeed Allister even published a press release on his TUV website to higlight the issue. Not only did Allister take issue with the fact that there were less Protestant students than Catholics, the tone of the press release also did not seem enamoured by the fact that there were many more students studying in NI from the Republic of Ireland than there was from Great Britain.

Reasons for this "imbalance" have been put attributed to a number of factors including:
  • NI Universities failure to target Protestant students
  • Protestants are more likely to study in GB than Catholics
  • More ROI students than GB students studying in NI
  • A "chill factor" for Protestants in NI Universities
  • Working class Protestants do not attend University
  • Catholic schools achieve higher standards academically
However, an article subsequently published in the Belfast Telegraph appears to disprove these claims and points to changing demographics as the reason why Catholics outnumber Protestants in University.

While claims that Universities target students based on religion rather than solely based on acedemic achievement  and claims of a "chill factor" are no more worthy of response as having to explain why ROI students are more likely to attend college in Ireland in greater numbers than those in Britain, the theory of a "Protestant brain drain" merits consideration.

Data has shown that 45% of Protestants and 41% of Catholics attend universities in GB, figures which "are almost neck in neck". This rubbishes the theory that Protestants are far more likely to study in GB than their Catholic counterparts. 

Population statistics show that 51% of pupils in NI schools are Catholic whereas only 37% are Protestant.

"Statistics from both the Departments of Education and Employment and Learning show that the percentage of Protestant pupils attending university reflects demographics. There are now 43,000 more Catholic pupils in our schools — from nursery to sixth form — than Protestants. Dr Peter Shirlow, an academic from Queen’s University Belfast, said the percentage of Catholics and Protestants attending our universities reflected “the share of what the population is”.

Monday, May 2, 2011

8 of the best

Out of the 18 electoral constituencies in Northern Ireland the results of 8 of these will be of keen interest when Thursdays Assembly election votes are counted. The ones to watch are the constituencies where the last seat could go to any of the political affiliations. Some of the candidates that will battle it out for the final seat include:

1.East Antrim
Justin McCamphill (SDLP), Gerardine Mulvenna (Alliance), Oliver McMullan (SF), Gordon Lyons (DUP), Rodney McCune (UUP)

Joe Boyle (SDLP), Mike Nesbitt (UUP)

3.South Down
Eamonn O'Neill (SDLP), John McAllister (UUP)

4.Upper Bann
Johnny McGibbon (SF), Delores Kelly (SDLP), Harry Hamilton (Alliance), Colin McClusker (UUP)

5.North Down
Stephen Agnew (Green Party), Anne Wilson (Alliance), Colin Breen (UUP), Gordon Dunne (DUP)

6.Lagan Valley
Pat Catney (SDLP), Brenda Hale (DUP)

7.North Antrim
Declan O'Loan (SDLP), David McIlveen (DUP), Bill Kennedy (DUP), Robin Swann (DUP), Evelyne Robinson (DUP)

8. South Antrim
Thomas Burns (SDLP), Pam Lewis (DUP), Adrian Cochrane Wilson (UUP)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Assembly 2011 predictions

The assembly 2011 website provides predictions of the Assembly election on May 5. The website invites people to make predictions on all 108 assembly seats. The site then accumulates these predictions to give the final result.

On April 22 the site tweeted: "With nearly 10,000 predictions already in, below is the breakdown of the composition of the next Assembly as predicted by the ‘assembly2011’ community".

The results can be seen here. If accurate the predictions show 51 assembly seats going to Unionists (-4) 48 going to Nationalists (+4), and 9 to Others (-). The preditions also show that Nationlists will gain seats from Unionists in East Antrim, Strangford, South Down and Upper Bann and gain Independent Kieran Deeney's seat in West Tyrone. Unionists will gain a seat from Nationalists in Lagan Valley and loose a seat to Alliance in North Down. If these resulsts prove accurate Unionisms lead of Nationalism will have been cut from 11 to 3 in just 4 years!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Assembly Election 2011

On Thursday 5 May the Northern Ireland electorate go to the polls. The last Assembly Election was in 2007 and produced 44 Nationalist seats, 55 Unionist seats and 9 Other seats made up as follows

  • Belfast East (N0 U5 O1)
  • Belfast North (N3 U3 O0)
  • Belfast South (N3 U2 O1)
  • Belfast West (N6 U0 O0)
  • Antrim East (N0 U5 O1)
  • Antrim North (N2 U4 O0)
  • Antrim South (N2 U3 O1)
  • Down North (N0 U4 O2)
  • Down South (N4 U2 O0)
  • Fermanagh and South Tyrone (N3 U3 O0)
  • Foyle (N5 U1 O0)
  • Lagan Valley (N1 U4 O1)
  • East Derry (N2 U4 O0)
  • Mid Ulster (N4 U2 O0)
  • Newry and Armagh (N4 U2 O0)
  • Strangford (N0 U5 O1)
  • West Tyrone (N3 U2 O1)
  • Upper Bann (N2 U4 O0)

As the Unionist lead over Natinalists from 2007 is only 11 seats, what are the opportunities for Nationalists to close this gap.

Of course in West Tyrone the independent MLA Kieran Deeney is not running. In such a strongly Nationalist constituency a Nationalis gain is inevitable here.

The SDLP lost out on a seat in East Antrim in 2007 by a mere 900 votes. Boundry changes in this constituency should equate to a net gain of approx 2,000 Nationalist voters. This coupled with demographic changes since the last election and a SF (Oliver McMullan) or SDLP (Justin McCamphill) gain over the UUP (Rodney McCune who replaces Ken Robinson)  is a strong possiblity.

Something similar could happen in Strangford where there are also significant boundry changes which should benefit the Nationalist vote. In fact the SDLP's Joe Boyle lost out by just 31 votes to Michelle McIlveen of the DUP. Expect a Nationalist gain at the expense of a Unionist here.

There are also outside chances of Nationalist gains and/or Unionist losses in South Down, Upper Bann and East Derry and Mid Ulster (SF will target the UUP seat from Sandra Overend who takes over from her father Billy Armstrong). Could the Alliance party take a second seat in East Belfast?

Of course boundry changes can also benefit Unionists. No more can this be seen than in Lagan Valley where thousands of Nationalist votes have been lost to West Belfast and to a lesser extent Sout Antrim. It is almost a certainty that Unionists will gain a seat here at the expence of  Sinn Feins Paul Butler. A significant number of Nationalist votes have also been lost in North Antrim and South Antrim due to boundry changes, which place Nationalist seats under threat. However the numbers are not hugely significant and may be largely offset by changing demographics.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Registrar General Annual Report 2009

The Register Generals Annual Report for 2009 was published on 30 November 20009. It provides a wealth of information relating to the demographic make up of Northern Ireland

Information provided includes births in 2009, deaths in 2009 and as well as information on marriages, divorces and civil partnerships.

Although the report does not determine the community background of those born and deceased in 2009, appendix 2 provides details of the breakdown of births and deaths by District Council. Looking at the 2001 census, we see that Northern Ireland's 26 District Councils can be divided into three groups: majority Catholic/Nationalist, majority Protestant/Unionist and those that are evenly balanced (i.e. no community has a greater representation than 55%). Combining these two sets of figures produces the table below. As the figures used for births and deaths are related to 2009 and the figures for religous breakdown in district councils are related to 2001 the results are likely to be slightly distorted but no significantly so.

The average bith rate of the Catholic majoity areas in 2009 is 14.3 (per 1,000 population) which is 13.5% higher than the Protestant birth rate of 12.6. The average birth rate in Northern Ireland as a whole was 13.9

The average death rate in Protestant dominated district councils in 2009 was 8.1 (per 1,000 population) compared to 7.2 in Catholic majority district councils which is a greater figure by 11.1%. The average death rate in Northern Ireland as a whole was 8.1

A higher Nationalist birth rate and a higher Unionist death rate is not encouraging for those that oppose a United Ireland. The problem is compounded due to the fact that the numbers of Nationalists in the 'child-bearing cohort' (those aged between 20 and 39) is higher than the Nationalist population as a whole and the fact that Protestants account for approx two thirds of deaths each year.

These trends are consistent over the last number of years. The 2011 census will show the effects of these trends.


General Election 2011

Not suprisingly the economy dominates the campaigning of all political parties in the run up to the election to Dáil Éireann.

Fianna Fáil look set for a shattering defeat and the Green Party are in danger of returning no Dáil seats. Labour and SF look set to make big gains but the real winners will be Fine Gael.

Perhaps the best indicator of the Friday 25 February election are the bookies (money talks!). Paddy Power  have tweeted

Paddy Power: What the money says today: FG 67, FF 34, Lab 34, SF 14, Ind 13, ULA 4. No change!

And the money does not often lie. Given that to form a government 84 seats are required, it looks like FG hopes of an outright majority are doomed. A FG/Labour coalition is inevitable.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Equality Commission Monitoring Report for 2009

On 7 December 2010 the Equality Comission published its 20th Monitoring Report. This report gives us a breakdown of the numbers and percentage of Protestants and Catholics in the both the public and private sectors of the workforce. In 2009 Protestants represented 54.6% of the workforce. Catholics in the workforce stood at 45.4%. The Protestant percentage has again declined as the Catholic percentage has increased. This trend has been constant as is represented in the following graph

The reason why this graph is converging is due to the fact that the numbers of Catholics entering the workforce is significantly greater than the amount of Catholics in the overall workforce and the numbers of Protestants entering the workforce is significantly lower than their representation in the entire workforce.

The Equality Commission Report for 2009 also shows us the composition of applications to join the workforce by community background. In 2009 the Catholic percentage stood at 51.0% and the Protestant percentage was 49.0%.

For the first time ever the number of Catholics seeking employment is greater than the number of Protestants (by 10,465). As current trends continue expect further 'greening' of the workforce in the years ahead and a majority Catholic/Nationalist workforce around 2015.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Unionists and the Irish Language

This week, the official website of the DUP and the personal websites of party leader Peter Robinson and Lagan Valley MP Jeffery Donaldson were the victim of an amusing pranks by self professed Irish language 'hactivist' 'Hector O'Hackedatdawn'. The prankster ran a fake story on the DUP website as Gaeilge titled “Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh go léir”, or ‘Happy new year to you all’ which purported to claim that the party was embracing the Irish language. He also displayed Irish language messages on the sites of Peter Robinson ("Is mise Peadar Robinson, agus tugaim tacoíocht den Acht na Gaeilge" or 'I am Peter Robinson and I support the Irish Language Act') and Jeffery Donaldson.

The prankster claims his motive was to draw attention to the "nonsensical attiude" of the DUP towards the Irish language.

If this gag does nothing else (beside give thousands of people a giggle) it will highlight the bigotry of the DUP towards the Irish language or anything remotely Irish or of Irish culture for that matter.

Earlier this week, minister for the Dept of Regional Development proposed the introduction of bilingual traffic signs in both Irish and Ulster-Scots. Now to most people this would be seen as a good way of promoting minority languages, which the Dept is obliged to do under the European Charter of Regional and Minority languages. However the DUP are not like most people. They can hardly hide their hatred of anything remotely Irish. They could not of course say we are against this because they are anti Irish culture so someother excuse was to be expected. Their excuse is usually to do with the cost of implementation. However under this scheme the costs will be bourne by the promoter of the signs. So what other excuse could the DUP come up with? Read this little gem by DUP Strangford assembly member Michelle McIlveen

"Given the range of problems on Connor Murphy's desk he should be focusing on more important matters rather than a pointless political exercise about bilingual signage".

Of course there is nothing new or unexpected here from Unionists. The Irish Language Act has always been a bone of contention for the DUP and fellow unionists. Despite signing the St Andrews Agreement in 2006 which included that an Irish Language Act would be passed giving the Irish Language equal status in Northern Ireland, the DUP has vetoed every attempt Nationists have made to bring about it's introduction.

So fair play Hector for highlighting this bigotry and as you say yourself

 “My attack is against a political party which refuses to respect my culture and my language.”