US politicians urged to scrutinize census process

Posted By: April 19, 2021

Bimpe Archer. Irish News. Belfast. Monday, April 19, 2021

HISTORIAN Tim Pat Coogan has called for Irish American politicians to scrutinize Northern Ireland’s census process – claiming “bogus statistics” have seen Catholic numbers under-reported for decades.

“I would earnestly advocate that the Friends of Ireland grouping of Congressmen, on Capitol Hill Washington, scrutinize the handling of the census taking of 2021, with a very keen eye, both while the figures are being processed and after the result is declared,” he writes in today’s Irish News.

“We are coming to the close of a period in Anglo/Irish history of momentous significance – the ending of a process that has gone on since the plantations.”

Mr. Coogan said as long ago as 1991, two Dublin demographers reallocated replies where religion was ‘not stated,’ but there was “both a knowledge of the Irish language and above average fertility” as Catholics, “possibly keeping their heads down in a loyalist area.”

He said this analysis “meant that the overall population of Catholics rose from the late 30s to over 40 percent”, but the findings “were not welcome to decision-taking Dublin.”

Mr. Coogan said in 2001, “a cabinet member who would later become taoiseach” told him he believed Catholic numbers “were at least 48 percent and possibly more” – below the census figures when they were published.

He expresses skepticism that the ‘not stated’ figure, which had grown from 12 to 17 percent of the total population, had a note which “read that these were thought to be mainly Protestants.”

The author goes on to recount how “a top civil servant” had allegedly once transferred “the numbers so as Catholics became Protestants and vice versa” to avoid unionist embarrassment because “Catholics… had outperformed [Protestants] in decorations won” during the Second World War.

He claimed nationalist MP Harry Diamond had found out, but in order to “continue to obtain what little favor he could for constituents, he had to stay silent, and so the bogus statistics appeared.”

“Dramatic change may come as soon as next year’s assembly elections, which could conceivably see a Sinn Féin first minister returned to Stormont,” he writes.

“Even if it does not, population growth will continue on the nationalist side whether loyalists, London, or sections of decision-taking Dublin like it or not.”