Ninety years ago the Northern Ireland statelet was established on the basis of a sectarian headcount.
Quite simply the boundaries of the new “country” were established on the basis on where Catholics and Protestant lived in the province of Ulster.
The nine county province was partitioned with six remaining in the United Kingdom and three going into the newly formed Irish Free State.
In the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Tyrone there were Protestant majorities.
The exception was county Fermanagh which was incorporated into the new British Volkstaat despite having a nationalist majority from the start.
A five county Northern Ireland was not considered viable.
A Nine county Northern Ireland, i.e. a place that really would have been “Ulster” simply had too many Catholics.
The Six Counties in 1922 had two Protestants for every one Catholic.
Discrimination and a harsh policing regime were designed to keep it that way.
Repression of the fenians was written into the DNA of the new statelet.
It was Northern Ireland’s birth defect.
Over the last few decades the two to one majority that underpinned where the border was drawn has been slowly changing.
The numbers have been altering at a glacial pace, but glaciers are unstoppable.
The most recent census figures from Northern Ireland should come as no surprise to anyone who has been studying these demographic trends.
Although the hard numbers are now there to be crunched there have been discernible signs for some time.
School numbers, for example, are a good indicator.
Anyone involved in education provision, school building and the like will tell you that the Catholic sector is growing exponentially.
Moreover the age profile of those who would define as Protestants has been getting greyer.
Therefore it came as no shock to me to see the 5% drop in people who would identify their background as being some variant of the reformed faith.
Quite simply that demographic is significantly older in age profile that the Catholic community.
The Orange state was created on the basis that the catholic community would be permanently in the minority.
Within the next couple of decades that paradigm may no longer reflect the facts on the ground.
Northern Ireland in 2020 may have the same demographic profile that the province of Ulster would have had in 1922.
This does not mean that the new Northern Irish will automatically wish to vote in a Border plebiscite for a United Ireland.
As I have written here before Siobhán with her masters degree and good public service job may well decide that her future and crucially her children’s future is best protected within the UK.
However, what it certainly DOES mean is that the old coat trailing days in Sammy’s Ulstur are over.
That is what the loyalist underclass are currently on the rampage about.
Even they know that their days of imagined supremacism are over.
When you examine the material reality of these communities their sense of themselves appears baffling to an outsider like me.
Places like the Fountain in Derry are pitiable ghettoes reeking of educational failure and profound social problems.
Similar housing estates can be found in other parts of the United Kingdom and here in the Republic.
What IS different though is the sub-culture of supremacism that The People cling to like a comfort blanket.
To witness them strutting that they are sentinels of some higher civilisation is simultaneously risible and tragic in equal measure.
The louder they bang the Lambeg they more hollow their claims to have an elevated status over their Catholic neighbours sound.
In the meantime to assert their Uber Britishness as only they know how.
On Monday night they tried to incinerate one of the Queen’s police officers.
She was alone in a car outside the office of Naomi Long MP.
15 men attacked the car and petrol bombed the vehicle.
The PSNI are treating it as attempted murder of their female colleague.
Clearly these heroes need to have manners put on them without further delay.
What has occurred in Belfast and Carrickfergus over the last week is not the behaviour of a confident culture.
The loyalist mob lashes out because they instinctively know that tomorrow does not belong exclusively to them.
What is being offered to them instead is to be a part of this island’s future, but not one based on privilege.
They are not The People; they are just people, like the rest of us.
Subsequently, they cannot lord it over their Catholic neighbours anymore.
What stretches out before them is equality and that prospect haunts them like a spectre.
We should pity them.