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In advance of the census on Sunday evening, I would like to raise awareness regarding the CSO guidelines on how to answer accurately one question.

Question 12 asks, “What is your religion?” The CSO guidelines state: “This question is not about frequency of attendance at church or other place of worship. People should answer the question based on how they feel now about their religious beliefs, if any. The question is asking about the person’s current religion or beliefs and not about the religion the person may have been brought up with.”

The census results are used by the government (if we ever have one!) to inform policy and planning. Thus, an accurate portrayal of the country’s religious beliefs is essential, in particular to support change in the area of religious patronage of schools.

Selena Daly,
Dublin 6.

Counting on the Census (Irish Times letters)

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77 thoughts on “Tick Tock

    1. bisted

      …there has been a schism since the last census leading to some being forced to join the Pastafarians

  1. Frilly Keane


    Making decisions at any level of Governing on Religious Statistics and their relevant needs and requirements is Wrong

    Let the Religious organisations do their own data collection and subsequent planning and budgeting.

    Ignore the question lads

    Do not provide the CSO any information about the faith (s) of and within your household.

    1. medieval knievel

      i suspect the only people who would do this would be those with no religion, thus making it look like they’re a smaller percentage than is actually the case.

    2. SPAX

      You’re right, Frilly (or, at least, not wrong). The thing is, though, for people like me who are struggling with prevailing admissions policy to religious schools, it’s in our interests to mark ‘no religion’ – and, hopefully, for everyone else to genuinely reflect on their own personal situation (and then tick ‘no religion’).

      1. Frilly Keane

        That policy means nothing ( in Blah Cliath anyway) to parents when the offers from Muckrust, Belvo, LSG, Michaels, ‘Saga, Anvil flop in the door

        1. SPAX

          I’m in, eh, Dublin. And that policy means quite a bit to me. It’s having a pretty damaging impact on my child, actually. It does matter.

          1. Frilly Keane

            I’m sorry to hear that Spanx

            But the fact remains
            When the offers come in from the usual suspects
            All angst infused conscientious objectifying and school yard politicking of the Primary School years gets thrown out with last year’s copy books.

            Fact. It doesn’t feel like that now. But it will.
            My advice…
            Pick the nearest school to your front door that’ll have Spanx Jr. Regardless of colour, code, connections.

            ‘Cause before long you’ll be rostering after school play dates, Dancing, Swimming, Art, Music, Birthday Parties, Halloween Parades, Book Weeks, Science Weeks, Karate, Basketball, Tennis, Drama, Elocution, Gymnastics, Football, Hurling, Rugby and Soccer.
            And not to forget the amount of Assembly Hall’s and Gyms your arse will get used’ta sitting at the back of.

            Believe me lad, the closer all that is to your front door the better those 8 years will pass.

            And you won’t be long forgetting the snot you got in over the nuns putting ashes on your Baba’s forehead.

            If you’re still in the humour for some more advice …
            Stay out’ve the school yard and away from the whole time parent groups.

      2. Won't somebody please think of the children

        How are you struggling? Take up an oul gun there and fight.

    3. Medium Sized C

      Except what you are doing is letting your own opinion cloud the facts.

      Ignoring the question does not achieve what you want.
      What it does is leave a null next to your person.
      Which is no data.
      Which cannot be assumed to be “No religion” which means it gets discounted for purposes of decisions.
      Of course all the practising and lapsed catholics who put “Roman catholic” there do get counted.

      And being that the CSO will be unable to interpret your defiance as any form of defiance, and they are unlikely to read your broadsheet posts, they will continue to operate as they do now.

      If everyone does the silly thing you say, it will skew the statistics towards established religions and when people query the CSO for statistics, they will get an overrepresentation of RC and COI.

      Stick to overwriting tributes to Alan Rickman.

      1. Frilly Keane

        Ah here
        Who weewee’ed on your Bran Flakes this morning

        Boycott the fecking thing
        Then they’ll stop asking
        Then it’ll no longer be a thing

        1. Lu

          Under Sections 26 and 27 of the Statistics Act 1993 and the Statistics (Census of Population) Order 2015, there is a legal obligation to complete the census form.

          It’s an important tool for government. If you have an issue with declaring your religion or lack thereof then I would suggest that you use the other box.

          1. Frilly Keane

            What are the consequences if I don’t comply?

            A fine
            An over nighter in the Training Centre

    4. Shane

      You’re such a dolt frilly, it ought not matter, and yet it does. So mark no religion (if that’s your thing) because those percentages will matter for policy making decisions, whether you think they ought to or not

      1. Digs

        +1. A 10 year old of any moral/philosophical persuasion would understand that!
        Such incandescence and Ill concieved faux rage. Perhaps he suffered profound religious persecution growing up, or worse, perhaps someone attempted to ethnically cleanse his silly little soul!

    5. LW

      Yeah, a small amount of people ignoring the question will certainly
      a) register in the data
      b) be seen as a protest and
      c) lead to the question on religion being removed.

      As to leaving the religious orders collect their own data, you would end up with all of them sampling their congregation, and returning vastly inflated figures. 100% of people surveyed at mass were Catholic, surprisingly.

    6. Nigel

      Actually, it’s useful for examining changing historical and social trends over time. It’s stupid to pretend that religion hasn’t played a part in how the country has developed and how its people see themselves. Without this information our picture of the country at the present moment will be incomplete, and there is no good reason to sabotage ourselves in this way.

    7. Kieran NYC

      I think we have the makings of another ill-informed nonsense column that won’t get run tomorrow here!

    1. Nigel

      It’s not well placed but it seems daft to attribute any sort of underhanded motivation to it.

        1. Mikeyfex

          It could have been ‘Other (if other state below)’ followed by ‘No religion’ then below that have space for the free text. But I only say that for aesthetic purposes – I agree with Nigel.

        2. Nigel

          Welllllll, yes, it may be unavoidable, it’s just that it is tucked in there at the end after everything else. The worse that could happen, really, is that people write ‘atheist’ or ‘no religion’ into the ‘other’ box.

  2. medieval knievel

    interesting to contrast this with the question on the irish language – i may be fuzzy on the detail, but it asks about practice as well as ‘theory’. the religion question specifically excludes whether you practice your religion.

    1. Clampers Outside!

      There are persons who can barely put two words together, but watch rugby on a Friday evening or GAA on a Sunday afternoon as Gaeilge via TG4 who’ll tick that ‘practice’ box….. it’s a joke.

      1. The Old Boy

        The Irish language question is deliberately leading. It encourages anyone who fancies himself able to string a few words together to mark “yes”. In the past it has led a figure that is patent nonsense and statistically worthless. It is then used to obscure the consistent failure of the Irish language policies of successive governments.

    1. The People's Hero



      (try channel a high pitched, rather histrionic fire and brimstone type border-counties priest from the 1970’s when reading)

    2. The Old Boy

      The last few UK censuses have only had a box marked “Christian”. I think for historical reasons we like to keep a close eye on how many of the Protestant minority are still hanging on.

  3. classter

    There should be another category for ‘lapsed Catholic / cultural Catholic / A la Carte Catholic / Not really Catholic but shure I did my confirmation & my wife’s family wanted a church wedding’

    1. ahjayzis

      Or queries as to whether they use condoms, support the inprisonment of women for taking a pill, did they vote for marriage equality and voila, CONGRATULATIONS – you’re not a catholic, let’s maybe think about taking our schools back.

    2. Owen

      + 1 The only remaining catholic aspect of my life is the catholic guilts on a Sunday morning… and I’m doing my best to shift that!

    3. DubLoony

      Catholic about the social justice bit, and trying to live a good life but not all the repressed sex bit.
      What box is ticked there?
      What would Iona crowd tick?

      1. classter

        That’s a bit how I feel about it.

        I have no interest in the Church itself but the Catholics that brought me up seemed to make a pretty good effort to be ‘Christian’. And they weren’t obsessed about sexual abstinence etc.

  4. Tish Mahorey

    For those pretending not to know what Orthodox refers to, it’s Greek Orthodox or the Eastern Church, a Christian group of churches founded by the Apostles. It includes Russian Orthodox. Their churches and vestments are particularly ornate partly because they didn’t suffer from the Iconoclasm of the Catholic and Reformed churches during the 16th and 17th centuries. Catholics can take communion in an Orthodox church.

    Many of our eastern European and Russian population here are Orthodox and attend their church in Mount Argus (founded in 1838).

    1. jack johnson

      Orthodox simply means the right opinion – and could refer to, along with the Christian sects , Orthodox Judaism.
      It’s a very poorly worded section of the census form.

  5. 15 cents

    its odd that in such a serious form, gathering information to quantify demographics .. they basically have a question asking if you believe in fairies, and if so, what kind of fairies.

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