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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 22 October, 2014

Big drop in number of Irish people who describe themselves as religious

Less than half of the Irish population say that they are religious.

Image: Andrew Parsons/PA

THERE HAS BEEN a significant drop in the number of Irish people who say that they consider themselves to be religious.

Just under half of the Irish population – 47 per cent – say that they would describe themselves as religious, putting Ireland 43rd in a poll carried out in 57 countries by WIN-Gallup International.

The last time the poll was carried out in 2005, 69 per cent of Irish people said they were religious.

Ireland had the second biggest drop after Vietnam in those claiming to be religious.

The survey suggests that although the vast majority of Irish people would identify themselves as belonging to a religious group - more than 84 per cent of the population defined themselves as Roman Catholic in the 2011 census,  - the number of people who actually practice is significantly lower.

A total of 10  per cent of Irish people polled said that they identified as an atheist, putting Ireland into the top ten countries with non-believers. China was top with 47 per cent, ahead of Japan (31 per cent), Czech Republic (30 per cent) and France (29 per cent). Austria, Iceland and Australia had the same percentage of atheists as Ireland.

The poll found that poorer people were more likely to describe themselves as religious than rich people.

The international poll showed that Ireland ranks lower than the world average, which found that 49 per cent of people say that they consider themselves to be religious compared to Ireland’s 47 per cent. On average 23 per cent say that they don’t think of themselves as religious while 13 per cent declare themselves to be atheist.

Ghana (96 per cent), Nigeria (93 per cent) and Armenia (92 per cent) had the highest percentage of people who said that they were religious.

The poll was carried out in Ireland by Red C who surveyed 1001 people.

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