There are two developments that could transform the deadlocked political situation in Northern Ireland. The first, which has received much commentary in the media, is the slow motion explosion of Brexit. The second, which has commanded very little attention, is the changing demography of the northern state, the effects of which will be even more profound.
The issue is likely to come sharply into focus with the next census, scheduled for 2021, which also happens to be the year that will mark the centenary of the creation of the Northern Ireland state. It would be a considerable irony – cruel for some, pleasing for others – if it turns out that a state that was set up to provide security for the Protestants of Ulster by providing them with a permanent in-built majority should, 100 years on from its creation, end up with a Catholic population larger than the Protestant one. Is that a real possibility? Read more