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Dangers of reading too much into population figures

October 19, 2000 12:00 AM

Alliance General Secretary, Stephen Farry, has cautioned against reading too much into the Northern Ireland population estimates that were published today

Stephen Farry said:

"Today's population estimates are not broken down by religion or perceived religion. While commentators may wish to make assumptions regarding the political implications of these figures, especially regarding the likelihood of a united Ireland, a degree of caution is advisable."

"First, it is wrong to assume that every Catholic is or will be a Nationalist and every Protestant is or will be a Unionists. Second, it would be a mistake to simply extrapolate from today to discover the Northern Ireland of tomorrow. One of the tests of the Agreement will be its success in breaking down the polarisation within the community."

"It is Alliance's hope that in 10 or 20 years from now, there will be a greater sense of a shared Northern Ireland identity, and as effect of European integration and globalisation, stark choices over borders will be much less relevant."

"These figures are more relevant for public policy planning. It tells us that more resources must be invested in healthcare, and in pension support. Northern Ireland's competitive edge based upon a highly educated young workforce will not be sustained for ever."

ENDS.

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