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27th Oct 2023

New census figures indicate dwindling Catholic influence in Ireland

Simon Kelly

Catholic church census

There was also a big increase in those who identify with no religion.

The latest census figures have revealed the dwindling control of the Catholic Church in Ireland, with a 10% drop of those identifying with the religion.

While still remaining the most common religion in the country, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) report that the number of Irish citizens who identify as Catholic have dropped from 79% in 2016 to 69% last year.

Numerous abuse scandals, the general outdated views of the church and the switch to a more liberal and open Ireland have all been factors in the decrease in popularity of the Catholic Church, with the latest figures proof of its ongoing decline.

The second largest religious group in Ireland, behind the Roman Catholic Church, was Church of Ireland or England, which increased by 2% compared to 2026, accounting for 124,749 people.

The Orthodox (Greek, Coptic, Russian) grouping follows up in third place with over 100,000 people, a massive 65% increase compared to the last census.

Younger people moving away from Catholicism in Ireland

3.5 million of the population of Ireland identified as Roman Catholic, however it is clear that numbers are on the wane, particular among younger generations in the country.

According to the CSO, those in their 20s were least likely to identify as Catholic, with signs pointing to them not choosing another religion.

The CSO reported that people aged between 25 and 29 “were less likely” to be Roman Catholic than other age groups, with only 53% of them identifying with the religion and over a quarter of them identifying as “no religion”.

Another huge difference in figures from 2016, the number of people in Ireland with “no religion” is now 736,210, a 63% increase on the last census.

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