Understanding the ‘Northern Irish’ Identity

Mr John Garry (QUB) and Mr Kevin McNicholl (QUB)

This presentation outlines key findings of research that used census and survey data to examine the ‘Northern Irish’ identity. The presentation first provides a demographic profile of Northern Irish identifiers: are they different from ‘Irish’ and ‘British’ identifiers in terms of gender, age, social class, educational qualifications and religious background? Second, it focuses on attitudinal factors: are Northern Irish identifiers notably moderate or centrist in their political beliefs? Third, it focuses on behavioural factors: are Northern Irish identifiers particularly likely to engage in ‘cross community’ contact and activities? How has Northern Irish identity (and associated demographic, attitudinal and behavioural profiles) changed over time? Linking the analysis to Priority 4 of the Executive’s Programme for Government, the presentation assesses the extent to which the emerging Northern Irish identity may enhance efforts in ‘building a strong and shared community’. Is ‘Northern Irish’ a genuinely and meaningfully distinct identity associated with shared values and behaviour and potentially a shared community? Or, is ‘Northern Irish’ identity simply another way of expressing traditional identities, with substantial differences between ‘Northern Irish’ Catholics and ‘Northern Irish’ Protestants? The findings shed light on the relationship between shared identity and shared community.

Date of seminar: 13 May 2015.

See also:
Policy Briefing