Tuesday 16 June 2009

A8 migration and its impact

The impact of migration from the A8 countries (those central and eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004) on the future direction of Northern Ireland is often debated but rarely elucidated – unionists fantasise about 'Polish Catholic Unionists', while nationalists assume that the Catholic migrants will merge with their community as automatically as previous waves of Italians did.

NISRA has produced some useful data that should help us to sort fact from fiction. Although the study looks at 2007 figures, they are probably accurate enough even in 2009, though the recession may have reduced the numbers somewhat.

Precise figures on migration are difficult to find, so NISRA has used a variety of sources; GP registration, worker registration system, National Insurance applications, the Schools Census, and birth registrations. The result is an estimate of the size of the A8 population in Northern Ireland of "30,000 people of A8 origin living in Northern Ireland around December 2007".

Few of these 30,000 were in Northern Ireland in 2001 when the last census was carried out, so their impact on the Catholic-Protestant balance has not been properly recorded. But although mostly Catholic, most A8 migrants are not Irish Catholics and thus may not vote (if they vote at all) in the way that Irish Catholics tend to (i.e. for nationalist parties). This has allowed some unionists to fantasise about their impact – that they may side with unionism, that their numbers will keep growing and thereby swamp nationalist dreams of outnumbering unionists, and so on.

Do the facts provide any support for such fantasies, though?

Firstly, will the children of the A8 migrants help to tip the balance back in unionism's favour? Unionists assume that A8 migrants would all vote for unionist parties, though there is no evidence for this. It is more likely that they would not vote at all, or that they would vote in accordance with the ethos of the communities in which they live. Since the greatest concentrations of A8 migrants outside Belfast are found in Dungannon, Craigavon, and Newry and Mourne, it is likely that they will vote for candidates that have a possibility of helping them, rather than parties of perpetual opposition. Hence, nationalist parties ae just as likely to receive their vote as unionist parties. And once absorbed into nationalist communities and voting for nationalist parties, will A8 migrants and their descendents vote unionist in a border poll?

Even if the descendents of A8 migrants vote unionist in the border poll of the future, will they sway the result?

Currently, around 4,000 of the 30,000 A8 population are school-age children. But Catholic kids outnumber Protestant kids in the Schools Census by at least 30,000, so even if all 4,000 A8 kids were to grow up to be 'Polish Catholic Unionists' they could not save the unionist project.

The other leg upon which unionism rests its hopes is that the A8 migrants are actually responsible for the apparent difference in community birth rates, and that once they are taken out of the equation Catholic birth rates are no higher than Protestant birth rates.

If the assumption is made that A8 births are distributed in the same way as the A8 population, the A8 births can easily be estimated by Council areas, and then both they and the A8 population can be removed from the overall figures. The table below gives the result, as the number of non-A8 births per 1,000 of the non-A8 population in 2007. It shows that, even without the effect of A8 births, two types of districts have a birth rate that exceeds the average; some outer Belfast commuter areas, and majority nationalist areas.


Despite overall Protestant majorities, both Craigavon and Armagh are evenly balanced at child-bearing ages, and both have a majority of Catholics amongst their children. Antrim, though still majority Protestant at child-bearing age nonetheless has an equal number of Catholic and Protestant children.

The table shows that the majority-nationalist, or balanced, districts are towards the higher end of the birth rate spectrum, while the whole of the lower end is taken up by seven majority-unionist districts. Only the commuter-belt areas of Antrim, Lisburn and Banbridge offer unionism any hope, and even in these three there are considerable numbers of Catholic birth. It seems that indigenous Catholics are still having proportionately more babies than indigenous Protestants.

So, many of unionism's hopes for the impact of A8 migration are not going to happen. They are not going to become king-makers in a balanced Northern Ireland, and their births are not, in fact, masking a serious decline in Irish Catholic births. Unionism's last hope, that the children of A8 migrants will grow up to vote unionist, remains to be tested – but there is no reason to expect that it too will not ultimately be dashed.

39 comments:

hoboroad said...

Yes and Combat 18 attacks on Immigrants homes are not going to make them feel anymore British!I see the BNP have a call centre in Dundonald.I wonder why they feel so at home there its not like the First Minister has a history of racist statements about players for the Republic of Ireland football team!

hoboroad said...

And DUP MLA Nelson McCausland was once in the National Front!A political party well known for its racism.

Dazzler said...

Any stats on emigration. The protestant brain drain is a factor im sure but with all the major Irish communities throughout the world its always an option and easier for catholics to join them.

Horseman said...

Hoboroad,

That's very interesting about McCausland - I didn't know it. Have you any evidence or references for it?

Dazzler,

Emigration is a really tricky thing to pin down. I've done a few blogs on the Protestant Brain Drain (early 2008 IIRC) but since most emigrants just go to England or Scotland there's much less fuss made about them. I think NISRA has also done some work on them - have a look on their web site. Of course nobody knows their religion, unfortunately. Even if the census in Britain asks where people were born, it does not ask their religion. I think NI is fairly unique in that respect (the south maybe does too).

Anonymous said...

Horseman,

Love it.

I hate to say this but....
Surely the vast majority of Romanians and Bulgarians would be neither Catholic nor Protestant. They would be either Eastern Orthodox or due to communism have no religion. So they would be influenced by their neighbors, co-workers or in the case of children, by which school they attend. Are there any stats in relation to school attendance for these kids.

MPG .....

Anonymous said...

Horseman et al,

Is there any evidence as to how welcome these people are made in the North as a whole and can this be viewed in geographic terms to find out a sectarian bias if any?

Is either community more or less welcoming?

MPG .....

Horseman said...

MPG,

Certainly anecdotal evidence points to migrants being less welcome in loyalist areas, but this could be because they tend to end up there because that's where the empty houses are.

Certainly the racist parties (all British ... strange, that) are exclusively active in loyalist areas. Such attitudes seem to be rare or absent in nationalist areas AFAIK. Maybe the croppies still have a memory of what it was like to be forced to migrate for economic reasons and are more sympathetic as a result? Who knows?

Pedro said...

This one is worth teasing out. At present (as per NISRA: http://www.nisra.gov.uk/archive/demography/population/migration/In_Mig0607.xls) most immigrants to N.I. are from countries with a traditionally Catholic background (Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia etc.).
This raises the interesting issue of what will happen when Grazyna from Gdansk (or the daughter of parents from Gdansk) gets hitched to Fergus from the Falls. The effects will really kick in with their offspring.
The Poles are like Southern Irish Catholics back in the 50’s in terms of their fanatical devotion to the faith. Thus Grazyna will most likely eschew contraception and have loads of kids. Grazyna will tend to pass on her *spiritual* Catholicism to the next generation, with the continued tendency to large families, while Fergus passes on his *political* Catholicism. The second generation moreover will tend grow up as *NI* Catholics subjected to all the formative influences (which admittedly may not be entirely benign), such as the GAA, denominational schools etc. that go along with that. Essentially they will go native N.I. Catholic in every sense.
The result:
Lord Brookeborough doing a Watusi in his grave.

I think the issue of Polish immigration is one that has not been teased out in terms of its implications for NI political demographics -probably no bad thing as they could end up being targeted.
Poland is a devoutly Catholic country which historically has been occupied and oppressed throughout the centuries by its more powerful neighbours.So which side in NI will they *instinctively* empathise with?
Mmmm let me see.
Also Mr and Mrs Sikowsky will send their children,NI born and bred, to Catholic schools who will then ,through intermarriage etc, be subsumed into the mainstream.
This is not necessarily what I want to happen but what I think will happen.
There are negative forces of course. leaving aside loyalist attacks it won't take these folks long to pick up on the theologically anti-Catholic dimension of unionism.

Anonymous said...

I still think partitioning Northern Ireland might be the best thing to do.

Anonymous said...

No!No!No!

O Sh1t, now I sound like the old Dr. No

hoboroad said...

Anonymous where would you draw the line?Who would police this new border?Would Protestants living in the west swap houses with Catholics in the east?What about people living on farms for generations suddenly having to get up and leave?Repartition raises more questions than answers.

Anonymous said...

it worked for central and eastern europe after the second world war. large scale population transfer is the only answer because like it or not there are two peoples on this island. one the irish catholics the other the protestant ulster-socts each differing from each other in culture, religion and history and each constituting seperate nations on this island and requring the provision of a homeland for their respective peoples. no gradual demograpic shift as presented in this blog is goin to change that fact it will only cause continued conflict and pain for all the people of this island for years to to come. the sooner irish nationalists and republicains relise this the better and the sooner all the people of this island can start to live in peace in their respective nations.

hoboroad said...

Anonymous how much land the would Protestant /Unionist state be left with?Would that statelet be viable?Would the British Government put up with a 100 percent Protestant state which they have to pay for?It would consist of two counties Down and Antrim it would have access to the sea it's Capital would be Belfast or maybe Bangor I think asking Catholics whose families have lived there all their lives to just up and leave is a bit much!

Anonymous said...

I dont believe any land should be given up as u say the state would be difficult to justify ecconomicly. I believe that the comprise that was agreed to in 1920 with the transferal of Donegal, Cavan and monaghan sould be carried through as it should have been at the time with a large populationtransfer. It would not have to mean a 100% homogeneous protestant state perhaps 80%. those of the catholic tradition who are prepared to support the state and assimilate into it could stay just as some protestants in the south did after partion. This is not dissimilar to what happened to the suddenland after world war two

hoboroad said...

The article in the Sunday Life about the UDA Doomsday plan was written by Brian Rowan.

Mack said...

Actually the compromise in 1921 included a boundary commission that was to transfer significant portions of what is now Northern Ireland into the then Irish Free State. Had it done so, I bet a lot of heartache would have been avoided.

Anonymous - repartition may yet turn out to be the only workable option - but it would have to be a fair repartition. The bulk of NI West and South of the Bann would be transferred to the Republic. Demographic trends in some Eastern parts of NI suggest they would also be transferred and a land bridge to the nationalist parts of Belfast would be required.

Incidentally, strategically pursuing repartition wouldn't make sense for nationalists until current demographic trends have run their course or reversed.

I've argued before that agreed independence may become an option as Catholic numbers increase, as fear of Protestant domination would subside.

Also, both sides might find it easier (and less threatening) to vote for joint sovereingty in a referendum and then up the threshold for change.

Mack said...

I'd also, politely, point out that the correct term for what you are calling for is 'ethnic cleansing' and not 'repartition'. It is in fact a war crime.

Anonymous said...

The compromise I am taking about it the one made by the ulster protestants in 1920 when despite having a majorty in the entire provance of ulster they sacrficed the three counties of Donegal, Cavan and monaghan it order to facilitate the creation of two homelands on this island for each of the peoples of this island, not the anglo-irish treaty of 1921. Also with regard to your comment on population transfer it is no different from what happened in central and eastern europe after the second world war, or indeed to what happened after the partion of india in 1947 were millions of people were transfered. If implemented correctly it would finally see the existence of two stable states for the two distinct people of this island and finally let all of us on this island come to accept and respect eachothers idenity as well as live peasefully with out the fear of one people trying to destroy the other. other

hoboroad said...

Anonymous

India's partition was not a painless affair.It was brutal and nasty.The terrible things that happened effect relations between the Two Countries involved to this very day.We are talking about two nuclear powers with missiles pointed at each other.

Anonymous said...

yes it was however it was necessary the alternitive would have been crippling civil war in both nations with both nations highly unstable with the two peoples engaged in a constant fight for superiority similar to that seen in northern ireland and yes there is tension between the two but a lot of that is due to the border dispute over kashmir. It is still favourable to what would have happened if the tranfers had not taken place.

hoboroad said...

As long as military force or intimidation is not used as that is what causes real problems. I have no problem with your analysis.Peaceful change is what is needed I think both sides Planter and Gael have a lot to think about in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 19.37

The Treaty following the war of independence was imposed on the Irish delegation. The delegation felt that they had no choice other than total war to accept what the British were willing to offer. The agreement was no compromise but an imposition of what the British government felt it could allow in the context of the the day. At the time they were a world Imperial power albeit on the wane and Ireland was concidered in stratrgic terms in relation to defence (eg the treaty ports).Its effects were noticed quickly as people (within families and friends) took opposite sides on the issue. This lead to a dirty civil war whose legacy is still seen today in the politics of the South.

This same scenario could and probably would repeat itself at least or mainly (but not confined to) in the North in the event of repartition. The sense of loss would be unbearable for the nationalist community on the island. How the Unionists would enjoy us implode.

But, the situation today is a world away. The GF agreement is an international agreement between the British and Irish Governments. It carries weight in the US,EU and the UN etc and its provisions are set out. If and when we get a 50%+1 vote for reunification it will be a done deal. The British do not need a presence on Ireland for strategic reasons any more, they fret about vast amounts of money to maintain its presence, most of them dont see themselves in Imperialist terms anymore and public oppinion has for many years has been infavour of reunification of Ireland.

Its a win/win situation, the British State will leave with its head held high for having finally done the right thing leaving its citizens to fend for themselves. The new shared State will be built on solid democratic foundations where the rights of all will be guarenteed from day one!

MPG .....

hoboroad said...

My passports green which side did your family take in the Civil War?

Anonymous said...

there is one problem in your plan and it is what I have been saying repeatedly there is two people on this island one the ulster protestants the other the irish catholics each differing from each other in culture, religion, and history and each constituting seperate nations on this island the problem is not the british government it is the ulster protestant people who will not alow themselves to be governed by a people who only want to destroy them and their way of live and absorb them in to a culture and way of life they do not feel a part of and never will. if it had not been for the ulster protestant people their would have been a united ireland years ago it is because of their resitance to being goverened and destroyed by the irish catholics that ireland had to be divided and it is why it needs to continue being divided so that there is a homeland for both the peoples of this island not just one of them.

hoboroad said...

Anonymous Loyalists are Loyal to the English crown what would happen if England became a Republic with a Parliament 100 percent elected by the people.Or if the King or Queen was a catholic or Muslim?Ian Paisley said he was loyal to the crown as long as it remains Protestant.So it is a conditional loyalty so not a real loyalty at all.

hoboroad said...

And if Protestants and Catholics are so different how come so many mixed marriages in northern ireland?

Pedro said...

Is that you Greenflag?

hoboroad said...

What if England declared independence from the UK and the EU.It would have to stay in NATO otherwise the Americans would have a fit.That is if Scotland does not beat them to it.

hoboroad said...

Pedro

I am not Greenflag

Mack said...

Anon -

There are two nations within the current territory of Northern Ireland. That's the core problem. There are many ways to solve it. E.g. There are also two nations that share Belgium and four that share Switzerland.

Expelling the Irish nation from Northern Ireland is a non-runner. It be disastrous for the UK and it would be impossible while the UK remains in the EU (free movement of peoples). If the UK left the EU, she would be expelling EU citizens from their homes and violating their property rights. This would lead to the UK being shut out of European markets and possibly sanctions (to say nothing of repercussions in the US). In addition, in order to expel nationalists the UK would have to change it's own laws to enable them to void their property rights (otherwise the nationalists would simply take a class action against the British government). The effect of such an action (in addition to the threat of closed markets and sanctions) would make investors very nervous about investing in Britain. The UK would in effect be following in the footsteps of Robert Mugabe..

Anonymous said...

Mack,
I agree. The situation in the 21st century is a world away from 100 years ago. To give them their due, I do believe that any British Government, now and into the future, will have a sense of fair play in relation to its duties as agreed internationally. No Englishman of the home counties variety wants his name sullied by a pack of nasty individuals masquerading as loyal subjects of the crown and doing the best to hold up progress. I suspect that these people are an acute embarrassment to those that Govern together with those who aspire to in Britain.

But then again who spawned them and allowed them to create the situation in the north as we see today.

The Conservatives will in the short to medium term in Government come to the same conclusion as the Labour party. The Protestant state for the Protestant people has been consigned to history and nobody but nobody will support its reintroduction in the form of repartition. There people need to move on and integrate with their neighbors, within and without, to create a new and shared Ireland where everybody has an equal say in its Governance.

I do not belong to any particular political party and partition politics did not figure in my upbringing.

MPG .....

hoboroad said...

Good for you My Passports Green!

Anonymous said...

I asked a question on June 16th above. The following seems to answer it. Its BBC.

MPG .....




Northern Ireland's dark side
Post categories: Ethics, Northern Ireland, Politics
William Crawley | 10:30 AM, Thursday, 18 June 2009
I've been listening to callers to radio shows using the term "foreigners" for two days now. "They don't belong here," we've been told. "They're taking our jobs," one caller said; "they're taking our benefits," said another. "They're taking our houses," yet more said. Apparently they are flooding in.

None of this stands up to any rational analysis. First, the flood. The non-local population of Northern Ireland is estimated at about 1 per cent -- just 45,000 people. Yet Northern Ireland is averaging 20 racist attacks every week. 90 per cent of racist attacks are in Loyalist areas. Next, the benefits. In fact, immigrants are not entitled to them when they arrive, as some have suggested. Jobs? In order to get a work permit for a migrant worker, evidence has to be produced that the job has been advertised to the indigenous workforce first. Housing? Those decisions are taken by councils and housing agencies on the basis of need, rather than political or religious identity.

hoboroad said...

Also have you seen some of the texts Henry McDonald produced in the Observer newspaper.It seems for some people in Loyalist areas of Belfast ignorance is bliss.These people do not have clue!They go on about being British but worship Adolf Hitler.And I read that the BNP had now two offices in East Belfast.They call themselves loyalist combat 18.And that the BNP have set up a youth wing in Northern Ireland the mind boggles!

Anonymous said...

Will the BNP have any impact in the North?

MPG .....

Anonymous said...

You guys are making this situation seem a lot more complicated then it really is. First off, suggesting partition in idiotic, The nationalists did not leave the first time and most definitely will not leave now considering they are in sight of gaining a united Ireland.

When the nationalists become the majority which is only a matter of time, the unionists will not get a say because they agreed to the Good Friday Agreement! If they really are that against a united Ireland, they can leave.

snakeoilbaron said...

I am a Canadian born child of an Anglican (Southern) Irish priest and a British mother who came to this country as a girl.

When I was young I was proud of my Irish background. Over the years I have watched the news and read the arguments of both sides and I can honestly say that the only pride I feel now about Ireland is my father's good sense to leave it. IRA loving Catholics, shriveled old banner- wearing marching freaks... I absolutely loath the lot of you. Is that racist of me? Well, moderation in all things - including extremism. Hate is in my blood I guess.

Do you remember what was in the news just before 9-11? Somewhere on your emerald isle, Protestants were throwing rocks and the odd bomb at little children because they dared to put their Catholic feet on Protestant sidewalks on their way to school. And only a handful of years after 9-11 IRA version 2.0 is talking about getting back into terrorism because they are sick of the Muslims getting all the attention and having all the fun.

What I am trying to say is that it doesn't matter whether the Unionist or Nationalists win or if some "compromise" is worked out. No amount of border redrawing or economic development will help. Become an agnostic, move away and forget the place. Or continue to rot in the Hell made by your own hands. But if your mischief spills out into the land sea and airlines of the real world I will be the first to be calling on any affected nation to carpet bomb you all without mercy.

Cheerio MFs.

Watcher said...

Anonymous said:

"The Treaty following the war of independence was imposed on the Irish delegation. The delegation felt that they had no choice other than total war to accept what the British were willing to offer. The agreement was no compromise but an imposition of what the British government felt it could allow in the context of the the day. At the time they were a world Imperial power albeit on the wane and Ireland was concidered in stratrgic terms in relation to defence (eg the treaty ports).Its effects were noticed quickly as people (within families and friends) took opposite sides on the issue. This lead to a dirty civil war whose legacy is still seen today in the politics of the South.

This same scenario could and probably would repeat itself at least or mainly (but not confined to) in the North in the event of repartition. The sense of loss would be unbearable for the nationalist community on the island. How the Unionists would enjoy us implode.

But, the situation today is a world away. The GF agreement is an international agreement between the British and Irish Governments. It carries weight in the US,EU and the UN etc and its provisions are set out. If and when we get a 50%+1 vote for reunification it will be a done deal. The British do not need a presence on Ireland for strategic reasons any more, they fret about vast amounts of money to maintain its presence, most of them dont see themselves in Imperialist terms anymore and public oppinion has for many years has been infavour of reunification of Ireland.

Its a win/win situation, the British State will leave with its head held high for having finally done the right thing leaving its citizens to fend for themselves. The new shared State will be built on solid democratic foundations where the rights of all will be guarenteed from day one!

MPG ....."

You are definitely one of the stupidest posters I've ever come across on an Oirish blog and that's saying something. You have absolutely no idea about how the world goes round.

The EU will protect us, The US will save us, Britain will reign in The Loyalists, Guardian readers will rise up, etc, etc, etc.

Get back to your pint pot you wind bag...

Watcher said...

Anonymous said:

"You guys are making this situation seem a lot more complicated then it really is. First off, suggesting partition in idiotic, The nationalists did not leave the first time and most definitely will not leave now considering they are in sight of gaining a united Ireland.

When the nationalists become the majority which is only a matter of time, the unionists will not get a say because they agreed to the Good Friday Agreement! If they really are that against a united Ireland, they can leave."


Are you going to make them? Or are you just another bar stool paddy working out which son to send round to the priest that night?