Friday 2 December 2016

Radical change needed as Protestants play catch-up to Catholics in education

Published 23/01/2016 | 02:30

Seamus Heaney was a celebrated example of a generation of Catholics who used education to better themselves. Photo: Steve Pyke/Getty Images
Seamus Heaney was a celebrated example of a generation of Catholics who used education to better themselves. Photo: Steve Pyke/Getty Images

'We are a Protestant parliament and a Protestant state," said James Craig, first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. But something has been hatching in the eight decades since those words were heard - an evolution which would have dismayed the Northern state's founders. The province is turning greener.

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Population studies show there are currently more Catholic teenagers than their Protestant counterparts, leading to the inevitable conclusion of a Catholic majority within 10 years.

Another notable development is that it will not just be a majority, but a well-educated one. More Catholics than Protestants are proceeding to third-level education. They outnumber Protestants on campus by significant proportions, for example by 15pc at Queen's University.

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