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District councils in Northern Ireland by community make-up

This is a list of Local Councils in Northern Ireland, broken down by their Protestant/Catholic make-up.

In the 2001 decennial census, the Census Office for Northern Ireland (CONI) asked a new question to attempt to achieve a more accurate depiction of the balance of the mainly unionist Protestant and mainly nationalist Catholic communities across Northern Ireland.

As well as asking the traditional question of "Religion?" - to which over 13% of respondents gave no answer - it also asked "Religion brought up in?" to capture those who are no longer religiously active themselves. The combination of the two questions gives a community background by religion for over 97% of the population.

These figures are presented here as the best assessment available of the community balance, without implying any particular significance to the absolute figures. Not all Protestants are unionists, and not all Catholics are nationalist. For information on recent communal conflicts in Northern Ireland, see the Troubles.

These figures at district level mask wide variations on smaller scales. In the Belfast City Council area, the figures at ward level vary from 95% Protestant to 99% Catholic.

Local Council areas with Protestant majorities
Key District Protestant Catholic Majority
8 Carrickfergus 85.1 8.7 76.4
2 Ards 82.5 12.6 69.9
24 North Down 80.5 12.6 67.9
9 Castlereagh 76.9 18.3 58.7
23 Newtownabbey 76.2 19.4 56.8
4 Ballymena 76.3 21.0 55.3
17 Larne 71.7 25.2 46.6
10 Coleraine 69.4 27.2 42.2
6 Banbridge 66.0 31.5 34.6
5 Ballymoney 66.2 31.9 34.3
19 Lisburn 62.8 33.4 29.4
1 Antrim 56.7 38.6 18.0
12 Craigavon 52.9 44.7 8.2
7 Belfast 48.6 47.2 1.4
3 Armagh 50.0 48.7 1.3

     Local Council areas with Catholic majorities
Key District Catholic Protestant Majority
22 Newry and Mourne 80.6 18.5 62.2
13 Derry 75.4 23.2 52.2
25 Omagh 69.1 29.7 39.4
26 Strabane 66.2 33.3 32.9
11 Cookstown 65.2 33.6 31.1
20 Magherafelt 64.1 34.8 29.3
14 Down 61.9 35.5 26.5
15 Dungannon and South Tyrone 60.8 38.2 22.6
21 Moyle 60.3 38.3 22.0
16 Fermanagh 58.7 39.8 18.9
18 Limavady 56.6 41.6 15.0

Proposed changes

In 2005 a plan to reduce the number of councils in Northern Ireland began. The option to reduce to eleven authority areas was selected in 2008 out of three models of seven, eleven and fifteen councils, with three proposals in each model.

Belfast is close to 50-50 representation under the new proposal, and is shown as grey in the map.

Key Council Population Protestant % Roman Catholic % Majority
1 Belfast 267,400 129,956 48.6 126,213 47.2 1.4
2 Castlereagh + Lisburn 178,500 121,347 68 49,714 27.9 40.1
3 North Down + Ards 154,900 126,219 81.5 19,517 12.6 68.9
4 Antrim + Newtownabbey 132,700 91,074 68.6 35,632 26.9 41.7
5 Down + Newry & Mourne 161,700 41,526 25.7 117,558 72.7 47
6 Craigavon + Armagh + Banbridge 189,100 104,347 55.2 80,795 42.7 12.5
7 Dungannon + Cookstown + Magherafelt 129,500 36,427 28.1 81,666 63.1 35
8 Fermanagh + Omagh 111,600 39,266 35.2 70,813 63.5 28.3
9 Strabane + Derry 147,000 38,053 25.9 107,241 73 47.1
10 Limavady + Coleraine + Ballymoney + Moyle 136,700 79,269 58 54,101 39.6 18.4
11 Ballymena + Larne + Carrickfergus 132,400 103,075 77.9 26,333 19.9 58

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