Unionist psyche unsettled by change in status quo: Catholics are playing a more prominent role in Ulster's economy
Belfast-born David McKittrick has been reporting on Northern Ireland since 1971, He has written for the East Antrim Times, the Irish Times and was The Independent's Irish correspondent for many years. He is the author of several books including Making Sense of the Troubles (2000) and Lost Lives (1999).
Wednesday 14 April 1993
Although anti-Catholic discrimination and inequities linger, the system has changed a great deal since a Unionist prime minister was able to describe Stormont as a Protestant parliament for a Protestant people.
Within a generation Northern Ireland has almost lost its Protestant-dominated industrial base, gaining in its place a public-sector economy in which Catholics are playing an increasingly prominent role. More jobs, including some of the top positions, are going to Catholics.
At the bottom end of the scale Catholic unemployment remains high, but more Protestants are joining the dole queues. One churchman said: 'Protestants are now facing unemployment in a way they have never faced it before.'
Some of the changes come from the fair employment policy that is being pursued by the Government: and here some nationalist observers say that what is happening is the inevitable consequence of the loss of traditional Protestant privilege. The more unsympathetic describe it as a Thatcherite-style 'shake-out'.
Underlying these changes are even more unsettling trends. The state of Northern Ireland was traditionally based on a 2-1 proportion of Protestants to Catholics, but the latest census shows that the Catholic population has risen to 42 or 43 per cent. The west of the province now has a Catholic majority, while Belfast will probably have a Catholic majority before the end of the century. Catholics tended to emigrate more than Protestants, but there are indications that this trend has been reversed. There is certainly a brain drain to mainland Britain of bright Protestant students.
Within Northern Ireland many Protestants are leaving areas with growing Catholic populations to cluster, in a striking geographical illustration of the siege mentality, in Protestant-majority districts. There is a marked drift towards the east, while elsewhere a few 'fortress towns' stand out against the rising Catholic tide.
Politically and economically, many Unionists feel their backs are to the wall. More of their number are resorting to violence, or emigrating, or showing signs of defeatism. Unionism is behaving as a frontier community whose frontiers are steadily contracting, and whose world is changing too fast for comfort.
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
The battle for control of Stieg Larsson's £30m legacy
French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
PAs cleared of fraud - and Nigella Lawson left reeling at 'ridiculous sideshow' of drug allegations and public dissection of marriage to Charles Saatchi
Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
Paul Walker's daughter Meadow attends Justin Bieber Believe premiere
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
- 1 Bonuses for goals and top four finish as Luiz Suarez joins Premier League's top three earners
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 #Teamnigella: It’s the only side to be on
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
- < Previous
- Next >
£25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: PHP Deve...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: This Big 4 giant is seeking ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have personal tax exp...
£22000 - £37000 per annum: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: This se...