Belfast Telegraph

'Shared' identity no longer as popular

By Liam Clarke

The poll reveals that the sense of a shared Northern Irish identity, seen as a hopeful sign at the beginning of the decade, has weakened. British identity is now the choice of the majority of people who expressed a preference and Irish identity is next in line.

This may be due to a switch off from the divisive aspects of Northern Irishness, like marching disputes, which is especially strong among the young.

Respondents were asked whether the term Northern Irish, Irish or British best described them.

The figures, with don't knows (DKs) in brackets, were as follows.

Northern Irish got the support of just 13.1% (16.0%) of the sample which is marginally down on last year's figure of 13.3% (16.9%). It is significantly down on the 2011 census figure of 20.9% when another 8% said they combined Northern Irish with a sense of either Britishness or Irishness.

Irish was the chosen identity of 25.3% (30.9%) which was well up on 20.5% (25.9%) or 25.6% in the census. British identity also surged to 41.8% (51%).

This was significantly higher than it was in either our 2013 poll or the census – 33.4% (42.2%) and 38.89% respectively.

A significant exception to the general trend was among young adults aged 18-24.

In this group Irish identity (31.2%) was somewhat more popular than British (27.8%) and Northern Irish identity was chosen by a fifth (20.5%).

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