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Boundary reform: Stormont should have power to draw the lines, argues Sinn Fein

By Noel McAdam

Published 06/09/2016

The proposed changes to the Northern Ireland boundaries.
The proposed changes to the Northern Ireland boundaries.
How Belfast could be represented.
Volunteers empty a ballot box in the counting centre at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast

Sinn Fein has demanded that powers to decide on Assembly election constituency boundaries should be devolved to Stormont.

And it has voiced concern that today's Boundary Commission blueprint is based on data from the December 2015 electoral register.

Assembly member Alex Maskey said: "Clearly this is a substantial piece of work proposing significant changes and will require a detailed response.

"Sinn Fein do have concerns regarding the use of data from the electoral register as their basis for drawing the new constituencies rather than census data, which is standard international practice.

"It is my view that we need to transfer powers on elections to the Assembly and local government into the hands of locally elected and accountable representatives and establish a boundary commission to deal exclusively with the Assembly constituencies - as Scotland has already done."

Under the plans, Lisburn is set to move to a revamped South Antrim constituency.

It will be in the same electoral area as Antrim town, along with the Ballinderry, Maghaberry, Lambeg and Hilden areas.

Crossgar and Killyleagh would transfer from South Down to an enhanced Strangford constituency, which will also take in some of Carryduff.

In Belfast, the Shankill ward, now within West Belfast, goes into the new North West constituency, along with Clonard.

And in the east of the city, Dundonald, Carrowreagh, Grahamsbridge and Enler transfer to an extended North Down constituency.

In terms of the current North Belfast seat - which had been expected to face the axe - the areas of Rathcoole, Glengormley, Whitehouse and Carnmoney Hill switch into the new East Antrim. The DUP and SDLP said they would study the proposals.

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