Some 4,690 babies were categorised as having no religion last year, an analysis of Census 2011 findings by the Central Statistics Office has found. It noted a four-fold increase in the number of people who said they had no religion, were atheists or agnostics, since 1991. Some 277,237 people fell into this category last year. The group included 14,769 children of primary school age, and 14,478 of secondary school age. The analysis of Census 2011 also found the proportion of the population who were Catholics reached its lowest point in 2011 at 84.2 per cent, but its congregation, at 3.86 million, was the highest since records began. This was explained by the number of Catholic immigrants living here. Of the 3.8 million Catholics in this State last year, 8 per cent were non-Irish. Polish people were the biggest group with 110,410 Catholics, followed by the UK with 49,761. Experts said that the growing numbers of atheists and large increases in the religions of immigrants from Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia led to the changes. Some 110,410 Poles account for the largest non-Irish group of Catholics.


Deirdre Cullen, senior statistician at the Central Statistics Office (CSO), said the latest Census 2011 report shows the growing diversity of the population. “This report again underlines the fact that Ireland has an increasingly diverse population where changing cultures and religious beliefs play an important part,” she said.

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