Significant changes proposed for Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies

·2 min read

Significant changes are being proposed to Northern Ireland’s 18 electoral constituencies.

These include the transfer of areas from Co Down into the current South Belfast and Strangford constituencies to create South Belfast and Mid Down and Strangford and Quoile.

Fermanagh South Tyrone, Mid Ulster and Lagan Valley are also set for changes, however all 18 constituencies are to be altered to reflect population changes.

The proposals come in a new report by the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland (BCNI) to bring the constituencies into line with the law.

Under the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986, all constituencies should be made up of between 69,000 and 77,000.

Currently just seven constituencies in Northern Ireland meet this requirement.

It will be the first major change to constituencies in the region for 15 years and is part of a review across the UK.

Previous proposals to update constituencies in 2018 fell following a legal challenge, although the then plans by Government to cut the number of parliamentary seats from 18 to 17, as part of a wider move to reduce MPs at Westminster from 650 to 600, were scrapped.

The latest proposals will undergo an eight-week public consultation to allow members of the public, political parties and wider civic society to share their views on the proposals.

Further consultations will follow as well as public hearings before a report is submitted to the Speaker in the House of Commons on July 1 2023.

BCNI deputy chairman Mr Justice Michael Humphreys encouraged the public to submit their views.

“I am pleased to announce the publication of the commission’s initial proposals, and the beginning of the first period of public consultation of the 2023 review,” he said.

“The commission is keen to encourage everyone with an interest to share their views by engaging with the consultation process, whether it is to support the proposals, or to suggest alternatives which also take into account the requirements of the legislation.”

Written representations must be received by the commission by December 15 2021 and can be submitted using the online portal, by email, or by post.

More information about the 2023 review process can be found in the guide to the 2023 review, which is available on the commission’s website at www.boundarycommission.org.uk.

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