“Still, I think the name Londonderry should be kept on there somewhere.”

So the boundary commission’s proposals are going down badly with Unionists. Hardly surprising since as Nicholas Whyte notes, the changes are likely to have a negative impact on both UU seats in Fermanagh South Tyrone and South Antrim.  North West Belfast looks vulnerable for the DUP.

In a reshuffle that in many ways harks after old county boundaries the one that most resembles old County Londonderry is to be given an odd name change, Glenshane, in the process abolishing Londonderry and making it more vulnerable to a Sinn Fein push.

As one Welsh Twitter companion wondered the day it was delivered, did Sinn Fein write this report. Adrian McQuillan, MLA noted only:

“I think it’s a bit ridiculous. It’s just another way of getting rid of the name Londonderry. “I’m not too concerned at this minute in time because I just know there’s a lot of consultation to be done yet… “Still, I think the name Londonderry should be kept on there somewhere.”

The good burghers of rural South Co Derry are sure to disagree…

, ,

  • Katyusha

    Well, I’d like to name it “North Tyrone” in order to annex Magherafelt and reflect the county’s former territorry, but you can’t have everything.

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/7f/Ulster_1584.png

    “Glenshane” is a good name. “Upper Bann and Blackwater” is the clunky one in my view, but then, that constituency corresponds to no geographical area that I know of. It must have been a struggle to find anything to fit.

  • Daragh

    I think reference to one of the prominent physical features of the area (the ‘Glenshane’) neatly sidesteps the name issue and is in keeping with what they already do in ‘Foyle’.
    Unionist complaints about the boundary changes are a little bit rich given how ‘efficient’ the current set up is in delivering Unionist MLAs for a relatively low number of votes, compared to ‘inefficient’ (ahem) number of votes required to deliver the same number of Nationalist MLAs. Any complaints are effectively lamenting the fact that our absentee English landlords applied the same standard criteria for Constituencies that they did in Britain. So grounds for complaint, apart from a Unionist belief in the divine right to rule, are exactly where?

  • Kevin Breslin

    How’s about as a compromise rename all the constituencies that have a Tyrone, Fermanagh, Antrim, Down and Armagh in them like we have seen with Dalriata and Glenshane?

    What does McQuillan actually want Glenshane to be called East Londonderry and North Tyrone?

    (Mid) Ulster’s gone too and no comments. The Mid in Mid Ulster seemed to infer the inclusion of all 9 counties in the location of where the Mid was.

  • anon

    Just go the whole hog and call it “Derry & Londonderry”

  • billypilgrim1

    That’s a really weird map. It has the 18th (or 17th?) century boundaries of Tyrone and Coleraine, yet also (via the colour scheme) contains the 1921 border. Talk about anachronistic.

  • billypilgrim1

    You’re being a little harsh. It’s perfectly natural that people will kick up a fuss when advantages they’re used to are taken away.

    Now, if we start to hear unionists talking about being “disadvantaged” by new boundaries, this cannot be allowed the stand. The ending of advantage is not disadvantage.

  • billypilgrim1

    To be fair, I think Glenshane is a decent fudge, just as Foyle was before it.

  • Katyusha

    It’s odd that shortly after forming a Mid-Ulster council, we are getting rid of the Mid-Ulster constituency.
    The division of NI into smaller units has turned into a real mess.

  • Katyusha

    It’s really strange to look at, isn’t it? It’s from wiki, here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counties_of_Northern_Ireland ,showing the history of NI’s counties, which explains the NI specific focus. More of a simple illustration than a contemporary map, really.

  • Jollyraj

    Sounds reasonable – after all, most people refer to the city as Derry and the county as Londonderry.

  • Jollyraj

    Any redrawing of the boundaries is going to be a form of ‘gerrymandering’ that suits some more than others. Who cares, really, what labels are on there.

    In the end, unionists will have to live with Sinn Fein – at least until the old guard drop off the perch sometime in the next decade. At that point, one suspects, this oddest of political parties will probably implode and hopefully be replaced by a less sectarian outfit. It’s inevitable, just a waiting game at this point.

  • Katyusha

    I wouldn’t get too excited about the “inevitable” implosion of SF. They’re currently on precisely the opposite trajectory, growing and with plenty of young members filling the ranks of the party and young voters supporting them. Their priorities and tactics have changed, the old guard has become less dominant over the image and direction of the party, and will eventually be replaced by a new generation that are not connected to the conflict. The future is pretty bright for the party although they’ve become mired in issues that have slowed their progress.

    The only new outfit that will be replacing the old SF is a new SF. Unfortunately for much of unionism, that name seems to be all they are able to perceive. There seems to be an inability to reconcile the changing makeup of the party in front of them to the mental image they’ve carefully preserved since the 1980s.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    It is for some interest that the Jacobite narratives and news sheets of the 1689 period all use “Londonderry” while the Williamite narratives seem to prefer “Derry”. The Williamite ballad sheet “Dauntless London-Derry” is one exception!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you for a rather broad restoration of the proper territories of “The Ó Néill” to something like their former extent. Coleraine should perhaps be called “Dúiche Ó Catháin”, which will save us all the “stroke/county” debate.

  • Jollyraj

    Well (assuming there is more to your comment than simply ‘yer ma!’), I will give you one thing. Groups like Sinn Fein are surely a cancer on society – and groups like the DUP a ‘cure’ that goes almost as hard on the patient as the disease.

    In our politics one group of extremists feed of the other, and the demise of Sinn Fein will inevitably end the DUP’s days, too.

  • Reader

    It does if you hear them say it?

  • Declan Doyle

    ‘Glenshane’ seems perfectly reasonable given the history of the area. It’s quite amusing listening to Unionists scratch themselves sore over a decision they don’t like but yet cant pin the blame for it on the Shinners.

    It would be gas craic to have a look at a Unionist alternative to this proposed plan. East Antrim would stretch from Coleraine to Craigavon and up to East Belfast, and somehow manage to take in parts of south east fermanagh also.

    Poor Mr Gerry Mander must be turning in his grave.

  • Oggins

    Derry or Londonderry? It sits right up with is the universe finite or infinite?

  • Ciaran74

    No they don’t. If any Irish person says Londonderry its out of courtesy to company or friends. Almost everyone calls the city Derry whereas the county reference is split.

  • Ciaran74

    Is that ‘balance’ JR? I’m shocked.

  • billypilgrim1

    “The only new outfit that will be replacing the old SF is a new SF. ”

    I think this is spot on.

    A bit of historical perspective is always useful. For at least two generations, it seemed unthinkable that Fianna Fáil would outlive Eamon De Valera – how quaint that notion now seems.

    If the Peronism can outlive Peron, Gaullism can outlive De Gaulle and the DUP can outlive Paisley (!) then Sinn Féin has a future after Adams and McGuinness.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I don’t mind the London part so much these days, they voted Remain too.

  • Roger

    Trajectory etc., by what per cent did the SF vote drop at the last UKNI election?
    Mental image v reality etc, doesn’t SF have the same leader since the 80s; around the time Mugabe took over in Zimbabwe?

  • Jollyraj

    I don’t know any other way, Ciaran 🙂

  • Declan Doyle

    I suppose he is looking at the national picture for Sinn Fein rather that just the North in Isolation. It’s true their vote has dropped marginally in the north but in fairness it seems to have gone in part to PBP and in part to dissidents. The question is will it continue to drop? We don’t know that yet but there is little room for growth within nationalism whilst turn out remains stubbornly low amongst that cohort. In the rest of the country the trajectory is still upwards and it’s there where most of their resources have been ploughed in recent years. One thing is for sure, regardless of fortunes SF are here to stay.

  • Abucs

    lol

  • grumpy oul man

    Please tell us how changing the boundary’s to make the numbers even is gerrymandering,
    Gerrymandering (as practiced by the Unionists in the old NI) was designed to allow unionists to hold more seats than they should have, so how is this gerrymandering?

  • grumpy oul man

    Could i ask where is this United Kingdom of Northern Ireland?

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    “the old guard has become less dominant over the image and direction of the party”

    Lol!

  • Anglo-Irish

    It should only be used when referring to the melody to the song ‘Danny Boy’ as if you call that the ‘ Derry air ‘ it confuses the French.

    I’ll get me coat.

  • grumpy oul man

    Thats what happen in political parties, have you noticed that the old gaurd (Ian and Pete) are gone from the DUP and a ex UUP member is running it.
    It called things moving on.
    LOL

  • grumpy oul man

    your coat left without you!

  • Anglo-Irish

    No doubt too embarrassed to let anyone know it belonged to me.

    Can’t say as I blame it.

  • AntrimGael

    Just have one big constituency and call it Shitehawks & Balloons.

  • dodrade99

    North Tyrone’s proposed boundaries are very similar to the old Mid Ulster, although it makes little sense bisecting a county whose main towns clearly divide into east and west in such a way.

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    Yes I am aware that “moving on” is what happens in political parties.

    Of course, as I’m
    sure you will agree, in the Sinn Fein organisation ‘moving on’ has a completely different definition. As the Dear Leader will attest.

    It’s a political party Jim, but not as we know it.

    Btw, what ever happened to that “shared history” you were talking about?

  • aor26

    Adams is the leader of a party not the head of a State. The comparison is limited.

  • Jollyraj

    I believe Gerry. And if he says the old guard have become less dominant, I believe that, too.

  • Jollyraj

    Certainly there are place names here in Fermanagh that could benefit from the prefix. Londonderrygonnelly and Londonderrylin, for starters. Adds a bit of prestige.

  • Roger

    Slightly off topic but does the IRA’s 1919 ‘Irish Republic’ now no longer exist in SF theory? It did for decades I believe. If it’s now been abandoned, when did SF abandon it?

    Your Mugabe remark inspired this but answers invited from anyone who knows. I don’t know the answer.

  • Ciaran74

    Tut tut. Regressing.

  • Ciaran74

    It’s a waste of perfectly good high visibility reflective signage. And the Sat Nav lady would only be finishing when you were half way passed the turn.

  • Thought Criminal

    The name does not matter. What matters is that you could not create a more effective gerrymandering in favour of Irish nationalist parties if you tried.

  • Whatever, we’ve been here before in some ways. Dalriada was actually proposed as one of 25 councils in 1991 by the local government boundary commission, basically a merger of Moyle and Ballymoney, although with most of the Glens joining Ballymena. Concerns about the relative obscurity of the name were raised then and I predict it won’t fly this time either. Is Dalriada really a more recognisable name than Causeway Coast (or variants?) or the simple “Coleraine and North Antrim” ?

    They proposed a Blackwater constituency in 1995 combining Armagh and Dungannon. Shot down at local enquiries.

    Dividing provincial towns like Dungannon? They suggested dividing Newry in 2005. Rejected in local enquiries.

    Madness, so they say, is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

  • Gopher

    I would be interested to learn what way the culled 6th seat pans out from these changes, it does look like there is some “engineering” going on in that department. It seems strong Unionist constituencies are getting stronger (the Dundonald gerrymander to North Down were it can do no harm being an excellent example) whilst ones with a question over who loses the 6th seat get weaker. East Belfast, North Belfast, Belfast South west , Fermanagh & South Tyrone, South Down, Glenshane, Newry and Armagh and even Foyle has a question mark that “engineering” has not taken place

  • Jollyraj

    Indeed. Oddly, the very Republican commenters who frequently decry gerrymandering as something akin to black magic have no problem with this version of it.

  • Jollyraj

    Perhaps it, too, has an identity crisis.

  • chrisjones2

    Read the other article on the BBC poll. Only half of Catholics might vote for a UI. An inclusive Unionist party might capture them. But we don’t have one

  • chrisjones2

    I think it applies to both SF. And the DUP.

  • chrisjones2

    The old guard less dominant?

    Aye. We saw that in North Antrim.

  • chrisjones2

    Has anyone dared tell him?

  • chrisjones2

    Would Sperrin not be much more accurate?

  • Anglo-Irish

    You know Jolly it is abundantly clear to everyone who bothers to read your posts that you are not the sharpest tool in the box.

    It isn’t necessary for you to keep on proving this time and time again.

    The identity crisis remark is no doubt your idea of a witticism.

    Slight problem with that Jolly old boy.

    I’ll type this next bit slowly in order to give you the chance of absorbing it.

    My user name is in fact a precise and exact description of what I am in terms of national identity and ethnic background.

    Therefore, it is the exact opposite of what anyone with half a brain cell would refer to as an identity crisis.

    Think about it, I know it’ll probably make your head hurt but try it for once.

    Still at 5.30 in the morning it must get lonely I suppose.

  • Brian Walker

    The good burghers of rural South Co Derry are sure to disagree…
    In Bellaghy, Maghera and half of Magherafelt maybe but Castledawson.? But Burghers? If you’re going archaic try feirmeoir tionóntach or cottiers maybe. Londonderry will always survive somewhere . It’s too valuable as tourist revenue..

  • Declan Doyle

    It is nigh on impossible to draw the boundaries in any way that does not result in the current Unionist advantage being removed. It’s simple numbers. If u have an alternative, let’s see it.

  • Jollyraj

    Right you are Anglo.

  • Tochais Siorai

    The inclusive Unionist party?

    No need to re-invent the wheel – the Alliance Party are there already.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Outside of the media, I’ve never met anyone with the most tenuous Catholic background, never mind a Nationalist, refer to County Londonderry. Never. Not once.

  • Tochais Siorai

    There are men from Bellaghy and Maghera who wouldn’t be able to sleep after seeing that map.

  • Jollyraj

    You haven’t? I have. Perhaps I just move in broader, more progressive social circles than you.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    It’s simply a reclamation of Killetra and Glenconkyne by the Ó Néill…..

  • Katyusha

    I’m not sure what you mean by a UKNI election. I’ve never heard of such a thing.

    If you mean a UK (Westminster) election, they lost a single seat – FST – which was about the most marginal seat possible.

    If you mean an NI (Assembly) election, they lost a single seat in West Belfast and about 3% of the vote. By any measure, they’re more-or-less stagnant in NI. It’s no surprise. They’ve got nowhere left to grow and I would think they know this.

    Where SF have been growing rapidly is in the south, where they have a lot more space to grow and which you could say is their main focus of operations now. Not so long ago SF were seen a little band of terrorist-spokespeople from the strange, dark little entity north of the border. Now they are one of the main political parties in the Dáil and can make a big enough problem for FF to rule out going into government citing that they didn’t want to hand the reins on opposition to Sinn Fein. They can make a reasonable claim to being the largest party in the whole of Ireland at the moment. It says a lot that many SF supporters were disappointed with that results, having expected to do better and with some obvious tactical slips such as in Donegal.

    And don’t think that the party can’t change it’s image with the same leader at the helm. In the 1980s they were a seen as fringe band of IRA spokespeople. The SDLP were by far the larger and more popular nationalist party. Now SF have usurped the SDLP’s territory, gone from trying to remove British rule in NI to administrating it, switched to exclusively electoral politics and condemned those who wish to continue with an armed struggle, contested and won seats to the Dáil, and acquired a sheen of social justice and economic fairness. You couldn’t have predicted that in the 1980s.

  • Katyusha

    Dropped in 1986 as far as I’m aware, when they chose to take seats in the Dáil, hence recognising the current Dáil Éireann as legitimate, and the current republic of Ireland as the legitimate Irish state.

    I could be wrong, but I can’t see how they could recognise two different manifestations of Ireland as legitimate, and evidently, neither did RSF, who split with them over the issue.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Indeed, I’m sure you must be one of the most cosmopolitan people in your house.

  • Devil Eire

    No. It just means he’s a UUP voter.

  • Ciaran74

    I’d guess the UUP are a few elections behind JR. JR’s obsession with not allowing Republicanism to be recognised for any evolution or contribution may even stretch to Nationalism too. Describing the DUP as the cure to SF’s cancer wrings of Paisley’s ‘the Civil Rights Association is the IRA’.

    An animated poster all the same.

  • tmitch57

    The obvious solution is to use as the official term what the majority of the population refers to it as in the jurisdiction in question i.e. Derry and either Co. Londonderry or Co. Derry, and instruct the postal service to deliver mail addressed to either Derry or Londonderry and Co. Derry and Co. Londonderry. This way everyone can preserve their own mental bubble intact from reality.

  • Katyusha

    I believe Gerry.

    Well, that makes one of us. I doubt even Gerry believes himself.

  • Roger

    That explanation does not satisfy me.
    To the best of my knowledge, SF’s principled position is that bringing about a united Ireland is a decision that by rights should be taken by all the people of the island of Ireland acting as one people with no distinction as to what part of the island they live on. More bluntly, they have not accepted the principle of consent/Unionist veto, as those concepts are generally understood. If you disagree with me, do tell me why. As such, my understanding is that SF regard the exercise by the UK of power over any part of the island as illegitimate and they do not accept the right of the UK to be sovereign over any part of Ireland. They are unique in this regard amongst the mainstream parties in both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland in this regard. Again, do let me know if you disagree and if so, why.
    Yet, they have decided to take seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly. I believe this was a tactical decision and not a decision marking a U turn on the legitimacy of the UK’s exercise of power in any part of the island of Ireland. Do you disagree?
    So, having said all of that, it is perfectly simple to draw the comparison taken in 1986 as regards taking seats in the Houses of the Oireachtas of Ireland with the decision taken in 1998 to take seats in a United Kingdom established Northern Ireland Assembly. Tactics v principles. Taking seats does not mean one’s principles have necessarily changed.
    Certainly the decision re Oireachtas seats taken in 1986 alone certainly doesn’t clarify whether they have accepted the legitimacy of Ireland and its government. I’m not saying they haven’t but I none the wiser following your response.

  • Gopher

    Again nope. If it was Geopgraphical, or it was to develop regions economically or socially I could see the point. How is the new Belfast going to do that? For example West Belfast needed preserving and not to be used as method to distort Belfast. What we have here is turning a possible 10 seat nationalist MLA loss into providing Unionist cantons to absorb that. You can see that clearly demonstrated in many new boundaries. This has the knock on effect of undermining turnout and will distort politics here. There was no unionist advantage that is simply nonsense, the present boundaries people understood.

  • Jollyraj

    Not sure about that, but by your own account I seem to be more cosmopolitan than you.

  • Declan Doyle

    I see your point but what I cannot see is how it could be avoided given the current population realities. If each constituency has to have around 75k voters with 17 electoral regions; and given that nationalist dominated regions have had much larger population growth in the last two decades, It is obvious then that the new map would reflect that. On the current boundaries we have huge anomalies in population size across the province.

  • Gopher

    Which only need tinkering not putting constituency boundaries at most towns and cities. Antrim, Armagh, Banbridge, Ballymena, Coleraine, Criagavon, Dungannon, Lisburn. Etc etc etc. Its simply absurd so much so it reeks.

  • Declan Doyle

    But respectfully, you still have not produced a detailed alternative . The boundaries have to accommodate the loss of a constituency and the requirement for numerical balance. so somewhere down the line there somebody would have to lose out. Given some of the current continue cues are over-represnted, this new prollpsal balances this out or do you believe the commission not impartial?

    Foyle has 74k voters, East Bel has just 66k. Newry Armagh has 82k while east Antrim has just 64k. FST has 74k while South Bel just 66k. Yet all of these constituencies can return the same amount of MLAS regardless of turn out. That’s an imbalance leaving a political deficit. That can’t be right.

  • Croiteir

    Today Bellaghy tomorrow Bangor

  • 05OCT68

    Je$us that hurts my ears as much as Derry/Londonderry

  • Gopher

    You could mention Upper Bann, West Belfast or West Tyrone. West Belfast had part of Lagan Valley grafted on in the last review and is still dying. In the review East Belfast gets twisted South instead of actually East. it’s nonsense unless of course your engineering outcomes.

    Respectfully it is not my job to produce a boundary review it is the Boundary Commisions. But It is within my rights to tell them to go away and come up with another solution as the one so far produced is a product of either incompetence of the highest degree or partiality beyond arguement in practically every constituency without any recourse to geography or economics

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ardglass actually…….

    You’ll find the reason in the third paragraph of this occasionally misleading bio for Frank Bigger:

    http://www.newulsterbiography.co.uk/index.php/home/viewPerson/97

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