Redraw of electoral boundaries will 'wreak havoc'
The massive shake-up of Northern Ireland's electoral map could "wreak havoc" and is "bereft of common sense", it has been claimed.
On the eve of the first public hearing to debate the proposals, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds warned the plans are "deeply damaging" to Belfast and leave many towns cut off from their natural hinterlands.
The Boundary Commission's provisional blueprint envisages reducing Belfast's current four constituencies to three, and creating a number of new Parliamentary areas which would be used in both general and Assembly elections. With consultations getting under way tomorrow at the Tullyglass Hotel in Ballymena, Mr Dodds said the Commission had been "unnecessarily radical", but voiced optimism that the proposals could be changed.
Cutting Belfast from four to three constituencies excludes areas around the periphery of the city in what Mr Dodds labelled a "primary error".
"It is important to ensure that Belfast is not shrunk to unnatural and limiting borders," he argued.
Writing in today's Belfast Telegraph, he also said the proposals "unnecessarily wreak havoc on towns such as Ballymena, Lisburn and Portadown, and create a wholly unnatural West Down seat which runs from Portadown to near Carryduff.
"The proposals curiously situate the core town in many constituencies to the periphery rather than building on well established centres," he added.
Commission Secretary Eamonn McConville said: "(We) will consider all information received during public consultations and decide whether the provisional proposals should be amended."
There are also public consultation sessions at the Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh, on October 11, Ramada Hotel, Shaw's Bridge, Belfast, on October 20, and Seagoe Hotel, Portadown, on October 25.