Poll: British identity 'is on the wane' in Northern Ireland

British identity ‘is on the wane’ in Northern Ireland as just 17 per cent of 18-24 year-olds say that is how they view themselves as Boris Johnson marks the country’s ‘very significant’ centenary

  • Poll suggests British identity is waning among young people in Northern Ireland
  • Older people more likely than younger people to consider themselves British
  • Came as Boris Johnson marked Northern Ireland’s ‘very significant’ centenary 

British identity is on the wane in Northern Ireland, according to a new poll published as the country marks its centenary. 

Younger people increasingly view themselves as Northern Irish while older people are more likely to consider themselves to be British. 

The poll, conducted by Kantar for The Belfast Telegraph, found that 51 per cent of people over the age of 65 say they are British. 

But among 18-24 year-olds that number drops to just 17 per cent, with 43 per cent of that age group considering themselves to be Northern Irish. 

The poll findings came as Boris Johnson vowed to ‘showcase all the brilliant things Northern Ireland contributes to the rest of the UK’ on the date which many consider to be its centenary. 

Boris Johnson today marked Northern Ireland’s ‘very significant’ centenary as a poll suggested the British identity is on the wane in Northern Ireland

The Prime Minister said the Government will ‘continue to showcase all the brilliant things Northern Ireland contributes to the rest of the UK’

The overall findings of the survey suggested people in Northern Ireland are broadly split into three groups of roughly the same size when it comes to how they view their nationality. 

One third of respondents reportedly said they consider themselves to be Northern Irish while one third said British and 28 per cent said Irish.    

The poll was published on the day that marks Northern Ireland’s centenary. 

Mr Johnson acknowledged there are ‘differing perspectives’ on the occasion as he said in a statement on Twitter: ‘This is a very significant national anniversary, marking the 100th year since the Government of Ireland Act came into effect and the formation of the United Kingdom as we know it today.

‘Throughout 2021, in its centenary year, the Government will continue to showcase all the brilliant things Northern Ireland contributes to the rest of the UK and the world, from its world-class fintech industry and research capabilities, to its inspiring young people, and its vibrant culture of arts and sport.

‘It is also important that we pause to reflect on the complex history of the last 100 years. People from all parts of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and across the globe, will approach this anniversary in different ways, with differing perspectives.

The poll, conducted by Kantar for The Belfast Telegraph, found that 51 per cent of people over the age of 65 say they are British but among 18-24 year-olds that number drops to just 17 per cent. The centre of Belfast is pictured on May 1 

‘While this is a moment of shared reflection, it is also an important opportunity to come together to celebrate Northern Ireland and build towards a better and even brighter future for all its people.’   

Northern Ireland was created on May 3 1921 when the Government of Ireland Act came into effect and partitioned the island of Ireland into two separate entities.

But the exact date of when Northern Ireland was created has divided opinion.

The effect of the Government of Ireland Act split the 32 counties of Ireland into two, leaving Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone to form Northern Ireland.

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