The proportion of people in Northern Ireland who identify as ‘non-religious’ has hit a record high, according to new figures. The latest Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey found that 20% of adults now consider themselves to have ‘no religion’, an increase of 3% on the previous year.
The proportion of non-religious people in Northern Ireland now exceeds that of every other religion or belief group except Catholics — 36%, with Presbyterians accounting for 18% of the population and those who identify as Church of Ireland/Anglican/Episcopal 14%.
Northern Ireland has seen decades of violent strife between paramilitary groups of Protestants and Catholics, leaving 3,600 dead. Even today, after a hard-won 1999 peace accord that can feel more like an armistice, low-level violence between the groups persists, some Catholics don’t know a single Protestant and vice versa, schools remain largely segregated, and “peace walls” as high as 25 feet separate the long-warring factions in cities like Belfast and Londonderry.
That the place has its (growing) share of people who aren’t big on religion perhaps isn’t that surprising.
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