Census 2022

Why is the Religion question important in the 2022 Census?

Three good reasons to mark 'No Religion' on the Census 2022 form

  • Fair representation: The census is held every five years and it collects important data about our nation and citizens. It’s critical that we get it right.
  • Fairness in public funding: Census results are used to make policy decisions on the allocation of funding for state services such as health, your children's education and social care. It’s important that the information accurately reflects how you live your life, so that resources are allocated fairly.
  • Fairness in Voice and influence: Ireland is progressively changing. A fairer representation of the non-religious gives us a stronger voice and greater influence. This should ensure that our policymakers build a more inclusive future for all Irish citizens.

Listen to CEO Jillian Brennan speaking about our census information campaign on Newstalk Breakfast 

The Census since 1991

In 1991, "No Religion” represented 2% of the population and this figure rose threefold to 6% in Census 2011 and made a big jump in Census 2016 to just over 10%. In fact, the 2016 census revealed that those with no religion had almost doubled to 468,400, a massive 73.4% increase making “No religion” the second largest category behind Roman Catholics. One in ten Irish citizens in 2016 had “no religion” which is indeed reflective of how Ireland is becoming a more secular society.

However, the Humanist Association believe that this figure would have been even higher but for the biased nature of the Census question that assumed a religious affiliation by asking ‘What is your religion’? The question appeared to assume a default position that the Census form-filler had a religion. It was because of this leading question that, following Census 2016, the Humanist Association engaged in consultations with the Central Statistics Office (CSO) with a view to updating the question on religion for Census 2022.

Following a CSO pilot survey, the Census Advisory Group decided to change the wording and the new questions will now read: “What is your religion, if any?” with “No Religion” being the first option on the checklist. Given the increase in citizens identifying as having no religion in the 2016 Census, the rewording of the religion question should now more accurately reflect the number of non-religious people in Ireland.


Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up today and receive our monthly email newsletter straight to your inbox.