New Census questions on religion trialled in Cork

New Census questions on religion trialled in Cork
The CSO has issued sample census forms to homes in Cork trialling new questions on religion, housing, childcare and the Irish language.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) have begun trialling new census questions on religion and the Irish language in Cork.

Enumerators from the CSO have been distributing sample census forms featuring new questions to 1,600 homes throughout Cork in recent weeks.

Participating areas include parts of Fairhill, areas in Greenmount/Ballyphehane, Barrack Street area and parts of Ballintemple.

The information gathered from the Census Pilot Survey will be analysed ahead of the development of the census 2021 questionnaire.

Two different sample census forms have been delivered to homes and will be collected by CSO staff over the coming days and weeks.

They include new questions on a range of issues including religion, the Irish language, housing, childcare and voluntary work.

Organisations like Atheist Ireland have argued that the current census question on religion is inappropriate as it begins with a leading question, ‘What is your religion’.

One of the new questions on religion being trialled in Cork through a sample census of 450 homes.
One of the new questions on religion being trialled in Cork through a sample census of 450 homes.

"This assumes that the person has a religion, and it is more likely to result in people writing down a religion even if they are not religious," Atheist Ireland said.

The first new sample question asks: "What is your religion, if any?" with 'No Religion' being the first option on the checklist.

A second sample form of the question firsts asks the respondent: "Do you have a religion?" with a 'Yes' or 'No' option.

Only if the respondent answers Yes are they given the option to state what their religion is.

The CSO said the question is asking about the person’s current religion or beliefs and not about the religion the person may have been brought up in.

The sample census form also includes new questions on the Irish language asking the respondent if Irish is the main spoken language of their household or if they grew up in a household where Irish was the main spoken language.

The new questions were prepared following public consultation late last year and a Census Advisory Group made recommendations on new or altered questions.

This was the first public consultation on the content of the census questionnaire since 2008 and the 2016 census was run as a no change census.

Participation in the Census Pilot Survey is voluntary and there is no legal obligation as is the case with the full census.

The CSO said households taking part in the survey have the opportunity to assist in the makeup of the next census form and therefore the statistics that will be produced as a result in 2021.

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