Religious affiliation and cultural identity have long been intertwined in Ireland.

To outsiders, the simplistic view has often been that the ‘North’ is Protestant while the ‘South’ is Catholic. While this is a gross oversimplification and ignores the complex reality of our unique constitutional peculiarities, it has been a view shared by many.

New figures released in the Republic, however, paint a different picture, one of a changing Ireland where the old certainties of faith and flag are no longer absolute.

Information from the latest census in the Republic reveals a 400 per cent rise in the number of people declaring themselves as non-religious in the last 20 years.

While the figure for the North may not be quite as dramatic, there is no doubt that people are not defining themselves simply by faith.

How this relates to questions of nationality and identity is open to debate but it certainly raises interesting questions about how we see ourselves.

The questioning of labels, which continue to be problematic, can only be healthy in terms of how all the people of this island interact with each other.