Catholics outnumber Protestants on both banks of the Foyle

CATHOLICS outnumber Protestants on both banks of the River Foyle although there remains a Protestant majority in the Waterside electoral district, according to new figures released from the 2011 Census on Wednesday (January 30).

In the Waterside electoral area - comprising of the Caw, Ebrington, Victoria, Clondermot, Altnagelvin, Lisnagelvin and Kilfennan wards - 11,903 people (52 per cent) said they were Protestant whilst 9,924 people (44 per cent) said they were Catholic.

However, when the Newbuildings, Hollymount, Enagh, Eglinton, Claudy and Banagher wards - all part of the Derry City Council area - are included there were a total of 25,354 Catholics (54 per cent) compared with 20,097 Protestants (42 per cent) living on the east bank of the river.

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Excluding the Waterside electoral area from that total and there were 15,430 Catholics (63 per cent) and 8,194 Protestants (33 per cent) on the rest of the east bank.

Even if the Claudy and Banagher wards are excluded from the overall east bank total there is still a Catholic majority of just over 50 per cent.

Counting the Waterside electoral area, along with Newbuildings, Hollymount, Enagh and Eglinton, 20356 people (50 per cent) said they were Catholic and 18,185 (45 per cent) people said they were Protestant,

The figures also show that across the whole of Londonderry’s west bank just 3,169 people (5 per cent) said they were Protestant against 54,976 (93 per cent) who said they were Catholic. But this means there are more Protestants living on the west bank than in any individual ward in the Waterside.

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There are also now more Protestants living out the back of Creggan in the Crevagh ward (383), down the Strand Road (434) and in Culmore (464), than there are Protestants living in the Fountain estate in The Diamond ward (364) of the west bank. Seven times as many west bank Protestants live outside the Fountain as live within the estate.

In fact, in Culmore there are now more Protestants than there were in the Fountain ten years ago (452). The amount of Protestants living in the Fountain has fallen by 88 over the last decade.

Elsewhere, the highest Protestant populations in descending order on the west bank were in: Culmore (464), Strand (434), Crevagh (383), Foyle Springs (234), Rosemount (206), Shantallow West (198), Ballynashallog (179), Carnhill (128), Brandywell (111), Pennyburn (102), Creggan Central (90), Westland (71), Springtown (62), Beechwood (55) and Creggan South (50).

The census figures show that the vast majority of wards in Londonderry on both the east and west banks of the Foyle remain religious ghettos largely with minority populations seldom exceeding 35 per cent.

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On the west bank - where there is a huge Catholic majority - the Protestants of the Fountain (364) make up the largest minority of any ward (15 per cent of The Diamond’s population).

In Strand 434 Protestants make up 11 per cent of the general population and in Culmore 464 Protestants make up five per cent of the general population. But in every single ward on the west bank of the river there are Catholic majorities in excess of 80 per cent.

It is only in a few Protestant majority areas of the east bank - with the exception of Eglinton - that the minority percentage rises above 35 per cent and gives a semblance of a mixed area or a shared society.

For example, in Ebrington 1,194 Catholics make up 46 per cent of the general population. This is also true for Altnagelvin (1,969; 41 per cent); Newbuildings (902; 41 per cent); and Kilfennan (1,112; 37 per cent).

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Meanwhile, in Catholic majority Eglinton 1,939 Protestants make up 44 per cent of the general population.

Other trends thrown up by the breakdown show that in every single ward in the city there are more atheists than non-Christian people of faith although both groups are tiny minorities.

The highest rates of people of no faith in the city are in Newbuildings 5.17 per cent; Lisnagelvin 4.10 per cent; Strand 4 per cent; and Enagh 3.97 per cent.