04 Oct 2022

NI CENSUS 2021: Mid Ulster the most ethnically diverse area outside Belfast

The council also has the largest percentage of residents born in other countries.

NI CENSUS 2021: Mid Ulster the most ethnically diverse area outside Belfast

Mid Ulster's rural council area is home to many different ethnicities. Pic: Brian Hamill/Unsplash.

Of the ten councils outside Northern Ireland's most urban area, Mid Ulster District Council is the most ethnically diverse, census figures have shown.

Ethnically non-white people make up 7.05% of Belfast City Council's residents, but Mid Ulster's non-white figure of 3.99% is the highest of the ten remaining council areas.

Within that figure, people of mixed ethnicity make up the largest percentage at 0.84% (1,257), while the next highest is 'Black Other' at 0.77% (1,155).

The area also has the highest percentage of Irish Travellers (0.37%) in the North and the highest in the 'Other Asian' category at 0.75% (1,132).

In terms of country of birth, the council area has the lowest percentage of residents born in England (2.46%), while 86.11% of all residents were born in Northern Ireland.

1.68% of residents were born in the Republic of Ireland, while the largest group outside of the UK and Ireland was those born in other EU countries (6.22%).

That figure means the council area also has the largest percentage in Northern Ireland of residents born in other EU counties.


Mid Ulster District Council is a nationalist-dominated council area, with 25 of its councillors either with nationalist parties or nationalist independents.

Over the last decade, the data shows there has been a 24% increase in those identifying as Irish only, with the figure rising from 49,483 in 2011 to 61,407 last year.

The rise has been accompanied by a 14% decrease in those identifying as British only, with the figure falling from 38,535 to 33,258 over the last ten years.

Numbers identifying as Northern Irish have decreased by 15%, dropping from 32,928 in 2011 to 28,146 in 2021.

Over the last decade, the number of people in the council area holding Irish passports only has risen by 52% to 51,559 from the 2011 figure of 33,916.

In contrast, the number holding a UK passport only fell from 38,535 to 33,258, a decrease of 14%, while there was a 208% increase in those holding both passports (2,168 to 6,672).


In terms of religion, Mid Ulster has the lowest percentage in Northern Ireland of those indicating they have no religion (7.92%).

In fact, the actual figure has fallen since 2011, in contrast with the astronomical rise recorded across Northern Ireland as a whole. The Mid Ulster figure fell by 2%, from 14,151 in 2011 to 13,864 in 2021.

A 14% rise in Catholic residents was recorded in last year's census, with the number of Protestants declining by 2%.


Mid Ulster recorded an 8% rise in population in the ten years since the 2011 census, with the figure rising from 138,590 to 150,293.

It was the third highest population rise in Northern Ireland behind Lisburn and Castlereagh (+10.6%) and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon (+9.5%).

In keeping with the NI trend, the largest rise came in the over 65s, with a 30% rise taking the figure from 17,391 to 22,525.

However, the council area notably recorded an increase in population for those under the age of 15, with a 9% increase taking their total from 29,948 to 32,632.

Those within the 15-39 age bracket decreased by 4%, while the number of those aged 40-64 increased by 14%.


A rise of 25% in one-person households in Mid Ulster brought the figure to 13,664, which marked the lowest percentage (25.3%) in all eleven council areas.

The area's five-person household figure was, in contrast, the highest of all the council areas at 9.51%, though it marked a 3% decline from the 2011 figure.

The district also had the highest percentage of four-person households at 16.14% (8,715), a rise of 17% since the previous census.

Mid Ulster also recorded a rise in both two-person and three-person households of 14% and 17% respectively over the ten-year period.


91.85% of Mid Ulster residents indicated English was their main language – the lowest figure in Northern Ireland.

Of the remaining number, Lithuanian was most prevalent on 2% (2,815), with Polish the next highest figure on 1.59% (2,295).

Irish (0.47% - 682) saw the fifth highest figure for main language in Mid Ulster, behind Tetun – the language of East Timor – at 0-.84% (1,210).

Outside Belfast, the area had the highest percentage of people who use Irish as a main language, while it also had the highest percentage of Portuguese (1.25%), Slovak (0.26%), Latvian (0.21%) and Russian (0.25%).

The number of those in Mid Ulster who indicated they had 'some ability' in Irish rose by 28% to 29,398, while the figure with 'some ability' in Ulster Scots rose by 66% to 13,494.

6.63% of the area's residents claimed they could speak, read, write and understand Irish, with 0.59% claiming the same in Ulster Scots.

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