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Religion as an indicator of ethnicity in Northern Irelandan alternative perspective

Paul Doherty, Michael A. Poole


This paper considers the relationship between census data on religious affiliation, and the ethnic structure of Northern Ireland. Examination of the 1991 Census Sample of Anonymised Records suggests that as well as the major unambiguously ethnic Catholic and Protestant groups, three other groups can be identified: those born in Northern Ireland who have No Religion, those born in Northern Ireland who do not declare a religion, and those from outside the province. Members of these last three groups have in the. past been allocated to one or other of the two main groups, but it is argued that this approach can no longer be justified, and that a more complex model of the relationship is required. This has implications for social research and policymaking.

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