Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Belfast - Council Election Preview

In previewing the new Belfast Council I am bowing to the superior knowledge of Noel McAdam in the Belfast Telegraph, 'Irish Observer' in the Vote UK Forum, the renowed statistician Nicholas Whyte on Slugger O'Toole  and 'Faha' over on Bangordub's excellent blog.

Belfast once a Unionist dominated stronghold is on the verge of shifting to overall Nationalist control. The 'fleg' controversy has added additional emphasis.

The consensus is that Nationalists will just fall short of an outright majority of 30, this time. However with 34 seats in play, an increased turnover and a willingness to transfer could see a major and historic win for Nationalism. It would be interesting to watch the fallout among Unionism over the loss or surrender or sell out of the hugely significant and symbolic local Council.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Peace Monitoring Report No. 3


The Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report is an annual report published by the Community Relations Council which provides us with a range of data on life in the North.

The 2014 Report provides us with some striking figures on the demographic change in which it is widely accepted is occurring.

The image above confirms what we know from the Census. The "tipping point" three years on from the census is the age 39. That is, for all ages below this age Catholics make up a majority. For all ages above this age Protestants are in the majority. Most older people are Protestant, most younger people are Catholic. The greater the age the greater that proportion of Protestants in the population.

In Belfast, Catholics make up 49% of the population a mere 1% off an outright majority. Protestants make up 42%. Will the next report show Catholics at the magic 50%?

Other interesting facts findings include:

  • The report finds that 60% of entrants to higher education are Catholic and 60% are female.
  • The highest achievers in education are Catholic girls
  • The report sees the Catholic middle classes as the big winner from the peace process so far. Their income levels and educational qualifications are now marginally higher than their Protestant counterparts and their numbers look like rising to eventually create a Catholic majority.
  • Feeling Irish and wanting a united Ireland both peaked in the Celtic tiger years but once the Irish banking crisis hit in people didn’t identify with Irish unity so strongly.
  • The workforce is becoming |increasing female (52.4% in 2010) and increasingly Catholic.
  • Educational achievement decreases across the gender, religious and class lines until it bottoms out with poorer |Protestant boys who don’t qualify for free school meals.