Belfast Telegraph

Two seats to go in boundary reforms

Northern Ireland will have two fewer parliamentary constituencies by the time of the next general election under proposed boundary reforms.

There will be one less in Belfast while five western constituencies will reduce to four.

The number of MPs will fall from 18 to 16 and constituency boundaries have been redrawn across the region as part of a UK-wide shake-up.

Belfast South East, North and South West will replace four electoral areas. The proposed changes also mean no East Londonderry, West Tyrone or East Antrim but new districts of Mid-Antrim and Glenshane. Mid Tyrone will replace Mid Ulster, including parts of West Tyrone and surrounding areas.

Debate is expected to centre on the impact of the changes on Northern Ireland Assembly elections, with Belfast losing up to six MLAs and adjustments across the country.

Some proposed Westminster seats include five different local council wards and the changes will affect the job of reviewing local government as well as potentially separating hinterlands from their main towns.

In the North West there will be argument around how wards from Derry City Council have been allocated between Glenshane and Foyle.

The commission has launched a 12-week public consultation including meetings in Belfast, Omagh, Co Tyrone and Ballymena, Co Antrim.

Deputy chairman of the Boundary Commission Mr Justice Richard McLaughlin said: "The publication of these proposals is only the beginning of a lengthy and inclusive consultation process which will be replicated across the rest of the UK by the other boundary commissions. We would encourage anyone with an interest to contribute to this consultation."

The proposals follow a review by the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland which began last March. The decrease to 16 constituencies is because of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, which meant a redrawing of the existing boundaries.

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