Boundary Commission advances plan to axe Belfast constituency
A plan which will see Belfast lose one of its four Parliamentary constituencies is to go for a second round of public consultation.
With just over a year before its deadline to report to Parliament, the Boundary Commission is to begin the next stage on September 5. Their recommendation to go down from 18 to 17 constituencies would also further cut the number of Assembly members, which was 108, and is now 90, to 85.
Under their blueprint only East Belfast, where the current MP is the DUP's Gavin Robinson, remains largely intact, with the north, south and west of the city being redrawn to form new areas of North West Belfast and South West Belfast. The names of four other existing constituencies - East Londonderry, North Antrim, Lagan Valley and Mid-Ulster - also disappear under the plans, which are issued today for public consultation. Instead six new constituencies would be created, provisionally called Dalriada, Glenshane, North Tyrone, Upper Bann and Blackwater, West Antrim and West Down. The proposals are designed to ensure each constituency has an electorate within 5% of an agreed quota across the UK. The commissioners insist they did not take party political considerations into account and cannot predict whether unionists or nationalists will emerge as winners or losers.
Eamonn McConville, Secretary to the Boundary Commission, said: "The Commission is consulting later than anticipated this year but remains confident that we will meet our statutory deadline of reporting to Parliament with final recommendations in September 2018."