A guest post by Faha.

Below is a guest post by Faha on the much speculated upon effects of immigration upon the 2011 census figures and specifically upon the religious balance. There have been a lot of comments upon this topic so it is great that someone has taken the latest data release and applied the results in an attempt to address  this complex question. – Bangordub

The NISRA office has recently released detailed census information on the various Immigrationethnic groups in Northern Ireland. There has been speculation on this site as well as elsewhere that these people are mainly Eastern European Catholics and that their immigration to Northern Ireland accounts for most of the increase in the Catholic population between the 2001 and 2011 census. What is the actual evidence for this?

NISRA has released 3 files: QS205NI-National Identity Full Detail, QS206NI-Country of Birth Full Detail and QS218NI- Religion Full Detail which provide most of the data needed to analyze the ethnic national population. To begin with, how does one define an ethnic national? In this analysis it includes anyone born outside the UK or Ireland and their children born within the UK, with a few exceptions.

QS206NI records 80,621 born outside the UK or Ireland. However, not all of these are ethnic nationals. Most of those born in Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Germany are actually of recent Irish of British origin. This can be determined by comparing country of birth with national identity. For example, the country of birth and national identity for the following ethnic groups is:

Country of Birth                      National Identity

Polish                                       19,658                                       18,618

Lithuanian                                 7,341                                         6,590

Portuguese                               1,996                                          2,184

Italian                                           538                                              483

Germany                                  3,908                                             708

Australia,Canada,NZ, USA     8,908                                          2,624

There is a very close correlation between country of birth and national identity for Polish, Lithuanian, Portuguese and Italian (and most other European nationalities) but not for Germans, Americans, Canadians, NZ and Australians. The reason for this is that historically there has been a large emigration from Northern Ireland. They emigrate to the rest of the UK, Australia, Canada, USA, and New Zealand to find work. Some or all of their children are born in these countries. When these emigrants return to Northern Ireland those children will always be recorded in the census with a birthplace outside of Northern Ireland. The German situation is unique in that there have been large numbers of British soldiers stationed in Germany since the end of WW2 and some of their children were born in Germany and thus will always show up in the census as German born even though only a minority of those born in Germany in the census are actual Germans.   So after adjusting for these factors I have come up with the following figures for country of birth for ethnic nationals:

Europe                                                                              45,000

Asia                                                                                    17,300

Africa and Caribbean                                                       5,900

Latin America                                                                    1,000

Canadian, NZ, Australian, USA , Others                       3,000

So there are approximately 72,200 ethnic nationals living in Northern Ireland who were born in foreign countries.

This number would not include their children who were born in Northern Ireland or elsewhere in the UK or Ireland. To estimate this number we need to look at the births to mothers who were not born in the UK or Ireland. For the period between the 2001 and 2011 census there were approximately 5,000 born to A8 national mothers and 10,000 to other national mothers. Prior to 2001 the numbers are much smaller, probably no more than 6,000 over the previous 30 years ( 200 per year ). Of that 21,000 not all are still residing in Northern Ireland but analysis of foreign NiNo registrations and NiNo attrition indicates that most are so I am assuming that 18,000 are still in Northern Ireland. Most of the foreign nationals who return to their native countries return within 2 years of arrival and do not remain in Northern Ireland long enough to have children. So my final figure for ethnic nationals is 90,000,or 5% of the total population, Recent birth statistics and the number of children in schools that have English as a 2nd language indicate that approximately 70,000 are adults ( of voting age ) and 20,000 are children.

It does not appear that the census office is planning to release religious background data by ethnic group or country of birth so in estimating the religious background I have relied on the Full Detail Religion file and data from the respective countries. For Europe, I am assuming that 95% of Polish, Lithuanian, Slovak, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and French are Catholic. Of the 45,000 ethnic nationals from Europe I estimate that 34,500 are Catholic. I assigned all 1,000 from Latin America to Catholic. There are few Catholics in the Asian born- 3,000 Filipinos and 1,000 East Timor and perhaps 500 elsewhere. (I believe that the Phillipines is an 85% catholic country?- BD) Many of the African would be Muslim, native religions or Protestant so I only assumed 1,000 are Catholic. Of those from Canada, USA etc. I assumed 1,000 Catholic. The total Catholic would 42,000 of the 72,000. Of the 18,000 born in Northern Ireland I assume 8,000 are Catholic. The reason for this lower estimate is that the majority of children of ethnic nationals born prior to 2005 would have been of Asian or African origin since the A8 nationals had not arrived yet. For a final total I estimate that a maximum of 50,000 ethnic nationals of the 90,000 are Catholic- 55% of the total. Of the other 40,000 I estimate that approximately 20,000 are  other religions ( most of the 16,600 Other religions in the census would be ethnic nationals but I am also including  Eastern Orthodox, etc. ). I estimate up to 10,000 Protestant ( 2,500 Europe, 2,000 African-Caribbean, 2,000 Asian, 1,500 American, Canadian, etc., plus 2,000 of their Northern Ireland born children ). The remaining 10,000 would be None religious background.

The ethnic nationals would contribute little to the percentage increase in the Catholic population. Even though the Catholic population may be as high as 55% of the ethnic population, the ethnic population is only 5% so the maximum contribution to the increase in Catholic population would only be 0.5%. The Catholic population increased 80,000 between the 2001 and 2011 census. Some of those Catholic ethnic nationals (approximately  5,000 ) would have been counted in the 2001 census so the other 45,000 are new to the census in 2011.  The ethnic nationals would have accounted for 45,000 of the increase in the Catholic population and the native Catholics another 35,000. I have assumed generous assumptions of Catholic origin of the ethnic nationals and it is possible that the contribution from foreign nationals could be lower- perhaps only 50% (not 55%) of foreign nationals are Catholic ( 45,000 instead of 50,000 ). In this case 40,000 of the Catholic increase would be from foreign nationals and 40,000 from native Catholics.