Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Catholics 'feel alienated' from UK

LucidTalk pollsters accept a person's first answer on their religious or political beliefs and do not press for background details.
LucidTalk pollsters accept a person's first answer on their religious or political beliefs and do not press for background details.

Northern Ireland Catholics feel alienated from the United Kingdom but do not feel a united Ireland is a realistic prospect, a new academic survey has revealed.

The number of people believing Irish unity is very unlikely has now risen to 41%, with fewer Catholics than Protestants expecting it.

The study also highlighted a significant drop in the number of people wishing to remain in the UK - down from 72% to 63% since 2010 - the lowest since devolution in 2007 especially among Catholics.

Duncan Morrow, of the University of Ulster, said: "These results confirm that the hybrid nature of Northern Ireland as a shared space sharply and persistently divided over questions of national identity is unchanged.

"However, this does not translate into a similar division over constitutional status, where there is little evidence of any strong desire for Irish unity at present."

The findings were recorded in the annual Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey carried out by the University of Ulster and Queen's University of Belfast (QUB).

It found a marked rise in the percentage of people describing their national identity as Irish - up from 26% in 2010 to 32% in 2012. But the proportion of people who said they were Northern Irish had fallen from a historic high of 29% three years ago to 22% in 2012.

This included a significant drop in the number of Catholics calling themselves Northern Irish, which was down from 26% to 17% - the lowest in more than a decade. There has been a jump in the percentage of Protestants calling themselves British from 60% to 68%.

The annual survey records public attitudes to a wide range of social issues and is aimed at providing insights into the changing nature of Northern Ireland politics and society.

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