Belfast Telegraph

Final recommendations for Northern Ireland electoral boundary changes published

By Jonathan Bell

Plans to redraw the Northern Ireland electoral constituency boundaries have been published.

It's part of an overall plan to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600. Under the proposals, published on Monday, Northern Ireland will have 17 constituencies down one from the current 18.

The changes would see two constituencies relatively unchanged, namely Foyle and Fermanagh & South Tyrone. There would be four new constituencies - Sperrin, Causeway, Mid Antrim and Mid Down.

Flashback to 2017 General Election results: East Belfast .... North Belfast .... South Belfast .... West Belfast .... East Antrim .... East Londonderry .... Fermanagh & South Tyrone .... Foyle .... Lagan Valley  .... Mid Ulster  .... Newry & Armagh .... North Antrim  .... North Down .... South Antrim .... South Down .... Strangford  .... Upper Bann  ....West Tyrone  ....

Eleven remain with the same name, although their boundaries are altered. They are the four sets in Belfast, East Antrim, Mid Ulster, Newry and Armagh, North Down, South Antrim, South Down and Upper Bann.

And effectively disappearing - because there would be no obvious successor in the new plans - would be North Antrim, Lagan Valley, Strangford, East Londonderry and West Tyrone.

A previous proposal to reduce Belfast to three constituencies has disappeared.

The variations in the number of people living in each constituency would be reduced - meaning they would be closer in size in terms of people represented.

Currently the smallest constituency is East Antrim with 59,658 electors on December 2015, while the largest is Upper Bann with 80,218.

Under the Boundary Commission plans the smallest would become Upper Bann with 69,795 people eligible to vote and the largest, Mid Down, with 77,767.

The Boundary Commission has been working on the changes since 2013 and the final recommendations come after a large scale consultation process. Almost 10,000 petition signatures and letters were received by the organisation.

The matter will be put to parliament and debated before new legislation is put in place to enact the changes, if a vote approves the changes.

Deputy Chair of the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland, Madam Justice Denise McBride DBE, QC said: "The Boundary Commission has determined its final recommendations after careful consideration of all the evidence collected during three stages of open and transparent public consultation.

"The Commission is grateful to all those who took the time and trouble to respond. We have sought, where possible, to try and accommodate the wide range of views and proposals presented whilst remaining within the constraint of the statutory criteria imposed upon the 2018 Review.”

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