Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

MP Gregory Campbell slams electoral plans

MP Gregory Campbell

Proposed electoral boundary changes will have a detrimental effect on the north west, according to sitting East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell.

The Boundary Commission is redrawing the electoral borders in Northern Ireland to reduce the number of Westminster MPs from 18 to 16.

While some constituencies such as Foyle remain largely intact, others like East Londonderry, held by Mr Campbell since 2001, change significantly and it is likely he would lose the seat.

Under the proposed changes Coleraine will move into North Antrim while the rest of East Londonderry will be included in the new Glenshane seat.

The constituency will cover a large geographical area more than 60 miles across.

Mr Campbell said the size would cause real problems.

“People seem to think the issue is a personality clash between me and whoever, but the real problem here will be getting what is best for the constituencies,” he said.

“At the minute, Coleraine and Limavady are the two greatest concentrations of population and there is a natural affinity between these two towns.

“They are only about 12 miles apart and a difficulty in Coleraine, for example, may very well have an impact on the people of Limavady and vice versa, but under the proposed changes Coleraine moves out of East Londonderry, and Limavady, along with Castlerock, becomes part of Glenshane.

“There is no natural affinity between the people of Limavady and the people of Magherafelt or Moneymore, so at Assembly it will be harder to argue a strong united case for the good of all.

“For an example of this we just have to look at the campaign to save the rail line from Londonderry to Coleraine, where all the MLAs and MPs from every party came together on a united front because securing the rail line was relevant to the constituents of all the MLAs and MPs.

“This would have been so much harder under these new constituencies because someone in Moneymore is not going to be all that interested in what is going on with the railway.

“I think this was badly thought-out by the Boundary Commission who seem to have just got a pen and kept drawing around the map until they had approximately 78,000.”

Under the plans West Tyrone, currently held by Sinn Fein's Pat Doherty, would also disappear, with much of it also forming the new Glenshane constituency.

Mr Doherty said he is not unduly concerned about how his party would emerge from the proposed changes, but preferred to wait until the final draft was published.

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