British passport held by nearly 60%


Almost 60 per cent of Northern Irish citizens hold British passports, despite only 48 per cent including British as part of their national identity.

Statistics released yesterday by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency from the 2011 Census showed that 59 per cent of people usually resident in Northern Ireland held British passports while just over a fifth, or 21 per cent, held Irish passports.

Just 1.7 per cent held both British and Irish passports; 19 per cent had no passport.

When asked about their national identity 40 per cent stated “British Only”, a quarter said “Irish Only” and 21 per cent said “Northern Irish Only”. When those who put down multiple national identities were included, 48 per cent included British as a national identity, while 29 per cent included Northern Irish and 28 per cent Irish.

The questions on identity and passports were included in the Northern Irish census for the first time in 2011.

Although previous censuses asked about people’s ability to read, write or understand Irish, in 2011 respondents were asked for the first time to provide the same information about their ability in Ulster Scots.

Of residents aged three or over, this census revealed that 11 per cent had some ability in Irish compared with 10 per cent in 2001.

Those who said they could understand Irish but could not speak, read or write it made up 4.1 per cent of the population. Some 8.1 per cent of people stated that they had some ability in Ulster-Scots, while 5.3 per cent said they could understand the language.