Survey highlights Ulster/Scots
One in five people in Northern Ireland see themselves as Ulster/Scots, it has been revealed.
Pensioners and Protestants were more likely to adopt the traditional identity, with Co Antrim boasting the most enthusiasts, the Northern Ireland Omnibus Survey added.
A total of £3.4 million was spent by the Ulster/Scots Agency last year, three-quarters from Northern Ireland and the rest from the Republic of Ireland.
Democratic Unionist Strangford MP Jim Shannon delivered his Westminster maiden speech earlier this year in Ulster/Scots. He said: "People are more aware of their historical background, if you take an interest in your history and where you come from you find that there is Ulster/Scots descent there."
He said Catholics and Protestants adopted the culture and added it had to be kept free from politics, adding: "It was never about, they are Irish and we are Ulster/Scots, it is about what we are."
The survey showed that 18% of those asked saw themselves as Ulster/Scots, while the proportion of those adopting the identity increased with age, 5% aged between 16 and 24 compared to 29% aged 65 plus.
It also revealed that more than 10 times the proportion of Protestants (31%) compared to Catholics (3%) considered themselves Ulster/Scots. Some 55% of Protestants and 31% of Catholics agreed that the language was a valuable part of Northern Ireland culture, but only 16% of Protestants and 4% of Catholics had participated in any Ulster/Scots activity in the last year.
The survey of 1,212 people was carried out in April this year, and also revealed that over half those asked felt children should have the option of studying Ulster/Scots at school.
Culture Minister Nelson McCausland said: "This reinforces my firm belief, and that of many others, that Ulster/Scots should be part of the wider curriculum."
He added: "These results show that Ulster/Scots continues to be widely recognised, across both sections of our community, as an integral part of the cultural fabric of Northern Ireland. As such, and as part of a shared future, it is only right and proper that we continue to support and promote this important aspect of our culture."