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Saturday 21 October 2017

Numbers claiming no religion soar in five years

'Catholicism is still the dominant religion, as 3.7 million people declared themselves Catholics in last year's Census'
'Catholicism is still the dominant religion, as 3.7 million people declared themselves Catholics in last year's Census'

The number of people who say they have no religion has increased by more than 73pc over the past five years, Census 2016 has revealed.

A total of 481,388 people stated they had no religion in their census return, compared with 277,237 in 2011.

While Catholics account for 78.3pc of the population, the number is substantially down compared with five years ago when the figure stood at 84.2pc.

However, Catholicism is still the dominant religion, as 3.7 million people declared themselves Catholics in last year's Census.

Offaly has the highest percentage of Catholics in the country at 88.6pc, while Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown in South Dublin has the lowest at 69.9pc.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) noted that there had been "significant increases" in the 25 years between 1991 and 2016 in the non-Catholic population, driven not only by growing numbers of people with no religion but by increases in other faiths.

"No religion" is the second-most frequent response in Ireland, with 10pc of the population (468,421) not identifying with any faith.

It has increased by 73.6pc in five years, making it the fastest-growing 'religion'.

One in five people in Dublin city said they had no religion, while the lowest rate was in Monaghan, at 3.8pc.

The Church of Ireland has the third-highest membership, with 126,414 people.

Other changes in the religious make-up of the country include a 28.9pc increase in the number of Muslim residents, which stands at 63,443, up from 49,204 in 2011.

The average age of Muslims in Ireland is 26, compared with a state average of 37.4. Almost half of all Muslims live in Dublin city and suburbs.

"Muslims in Ireland were less likely to be single and more likely to be married compared with the general population," Census 2016 said, adding that Muslims are also less likely to divorce.

Irish nationals make up 55.6pc of the Muslim total, followed by Pakistani (11.4pc) and UK nationals (3.4pc).

Meanwhile, the Christian Orthodox religion saw the second biggest growth at 37.5pc, with its numbers standing at 62,187.

Ethnicity

Romanians make up 33.5pc of the overall Christian Orthodox population.

Census data also looked at ethnicity in Ireland.

Those who indicated a "White Irish" ethnic or cultural background accounted for 88.2pc of the population.

This was followed by "any other White background" at 9.5pc, "non-Chinese Asian" at 1.7pc and "other including mixed background" at 1.5pc.

The vast majority (94.1 pc) of those who gave a "White background" were born in Ireland.

Of the 5.9 pc (226,078) born elsewhere, 121,174 were born in England and Wales and 53,915 in Northern Ireland.

The CSO also said divorce rates among Catholics are rising, up from 3.6pc in 2011 to 4.1pc in 2016.

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