My Guess at the New 16 – Just for fun!

In light of the confirmation that we will have 16 new constituencies, and that they will probably be based on existing Wards, DEAs, Council boundaries, etc. I have made an attempt at redrawing the boundaries, I had posted these on the other thread, but thought it would be good to give the ideas a thread of their own.  Have also included a map!

In drawing it up I ignore the existing constituencies completely, they are un-natural and cumbersome in many case, with so much chopping and changing over the years, the extent of the redraw needed this time should provide the chance to start again, which is maybe a good thing too, all those records can be assigned to the history books with many of the other divisive issues.

In doing the redraw I attempted to base the boundaries on Councils firstly, then DEAs, and finally a few wards, probably another ward or two can be changed, to even things out, although they are close enough this time.   I actually started with uniting Newry and worked round from there, the names are just guesses, alternatives are welcome!

So here are my suggestions.

1: Kingdom of Mourne – Newry & Mourne + Newcastle = 75k

2: Lecale – Down (-Newcastle) + Ards East & Newtownards town = 71k

3: Clandeboy – North Down + Donaghadee & Ards Peninsula = 75k

4: Lagan Valley – Lisburn = 78k

5: Belfast Conswater – Castlereagh + Victoria = 72k

6: Belfast Lagan – Pottinger, Laganbank, Balmoral and Upper Falls = 72k

7: Belfast Farset – Lower Falls, Court, Old Park and Castle = 72k

8: Antrim Loughshore – Antrim + Newtownabbey (- Ballyclare dea) = 78k

9: Antrim Glens – Ballyclare + Carrickfergus + Larne + Moyle = 74k

10: Antrim Plateau – Ballymena + Ballymoney + the “Ports”= 77k

11: Londonderry East – Coleraine (- “Ports”) + Limavady + Magherafelt = 80k

12: Foyle – Derry CC = 74k

13: Sperrins – Strabane (-Derg)+ Omagh (-West Tyr)+ Cookstown + Torrent  = 78k

14: Oriel – Fermanagh + Derg dea + West Tyr dea + Clogher V = 72k

15: Primatial – Dungannon & Blackwater dea + Armagh + Portadown dea = 76k

16: Iveagh – Banbridge + Craigavon (-Portadown) = 80k

I havnt worked out what way they are likey to fall, so probably will get in trouble for turning various areas from Orange to Green!   But its just a discussion piece, however if the Commissioners opt for something very similar I will want a slice of their hefty pay!

Map base by Conal Kelly form N. Whytes Ark website.

  • DR, I think major centres of population should be the hubs of the new constituencies. For example, up on the north coast, Derry and Coleraine are the two main ones. Take Coleraine: its spokes reach out to Limavady, Garvagh, Kilrea, Ballymoney, Ballycastle, Portrush and Portstewart; its star attractions are the Giants Causeway and the North-West 200 races. Magherafelt AFAIK has no real ties to Coleraine.

  • DR,

    I am not even going to beging to attempt my own version of a boundary suggestion.

    I like yours though. PrAt the moment, FST is a ridiculous shape (like an old watering can with a rag over the spout)

    I also like your choice of names. Oriel ties the area beautifully with antiquity.

  • Barry the Blender

    I see some of the names have changed since you first posted. Notably in County Antrim. The only compass point is in East Londonderry. That’s a good thing.

    I actually would argue for keeping the county boundary between Portrush and Portstewart as a division between East Londonderry and any of the Antrim seats.

    All in all a nice set of suggestions. Hate to be a pessimist but I don’t see anything like these ever coming to fruition. The boundaries will be politically motivated.

  • Barry,

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts as to how one might be able to detect if the boundary proposals are politically motivated or not.

  • Drumlins Rock,

    The image which you have used as a base here is by me and is my copyright. I hereby grant you permission to modify it and publish it in this post only, but you should have asked me first – my email address is not difficult to locate. I emphasise that none of the images on my site are for free use by anyone who feels like it (most are by Conal Kelly rather than me, and I will transmit requests to him as I have done in the past as necessary).

    Sorry to be harsh, but I am very protective of my own intellectual property.

  • “Oriel ties the area beautifully with antiquity.”

    Erm, no it doesn’t. Oriel/Uriel would be more accuratly represented by present day counties Armagh and Louth. There is no connection to Fermanagh.

  • Barry the Blender

    I just suspect Nicholas that it will boil down to what boundaries best suit incumbent MPs. We have to lose 2 seats. It’ll have to be one prod and one taig, and to hell with local ties.

  • Mark McGregor


    It is easy to find much better Creative Commons maps to use, try this one on wikipedia for starters. Saves the problems with people that are precious about property.

  • Mark McGregor
  • I’m impressed by the effort, Drumlin’s Rock. I’ll be looking to see how accurately you’ve managed (and a heck of a lot quicker than the Boundaries Commission).

    There is a corollary here: if the Isle of White and the Scottish Northern Isles deserve special consideration, do not those mammoth tracts of the West of the statelet?

    Quite honestly, consider the problem of truly representing FST or Mid-Ulster (yeah: I know. Simplifies the problem I’m about to outline).

    First of all, the Member needs to be seen about the place from the Donegal border to Lough Neagh. No small stretch, especially on some of those country back-roads.

    Then, there’s the small difficulty of making a Monday or Tuesday debate. Drive (or be driven) to Aldergrove: say two hours on a decent day. Check in, hoping flight in on time. Hour and half flying time. Clear Heathrow, taxi or whatever into Westminster (reckon a minimum of a further hour-and-a-half). There’s six hours gone already; and probably not much less than the commute from Stornoway.

    There’s been a bit of slack cut for Northern Ireland already (effectively the sixteenth seat); but I do feel this carve-up is an unnecessary “reform”.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Ulick, Oriel changed it boundaries in much the same way as Ulster, in later days it was ruled from Clogher and extended into Fermanagh & Monaghan, ie. as is reflected in the Diocese of Clogher.

  • Did I really do that phonetic typo on the Isle of Wight? [Groans].

  • Old Mortality

    I doubt whether the incumbents for FST or Mid-Ulster are overly concerned about missing Commons debates.
    Come to think of it, almost certainly not the member for any NI constituency unless it involved some vital issue such as restricting the right of an Englishwoman to have an abortion.

  • Having yelled at you, DR, I have to say that I think your scheme looks pretty convincing. I would not be at all surprised to see something like this emerging from the first round of drafting.

    I have crunched the numbers, using the last Assembly elections as a base, with the following results:

    1: Kingdom of Mourne: SF 43%, SDLP 30%, DUP 10%, UUP 6%
    2: Lecale: DUP 33%, SDLP 18%, SF 16%, UUP 15%, Alliance 6%
    3: Clandeboy: DUP 38%, UUP 21%, Alliance 11%, SDLP 6%
    4: Lagan Valley: DUP 40%, SF 23%, UUP 16%, Alliance 8%, SDLP 8%
    5: Belfast Conswater: DUP 39%, UUP 21%, Alliance 16%, SDLP 7%
    6: Belfast Lagan: SF 31%, SDLP 20%, DUP 19%, UUP 13%, Alliance 10%
    7: Belfast Farset: SF 42%, DUP 29%, SDLP 13%, UUP 6%
    8: Antrim Loughshore: DUP 36%, UUP 19%, SF 17%, Alliance 12%, SDLP 11%
    9: Antrim Glens: DUP 42%, UUP 20%, Alliance 14%, SF 9%, SDLP 8%
    10: Antrim Plateau: DUP 52%, UUP 16%, SF 13%, SDLP 10%
    11: Londonderry East: SF 31%, DUP 31%, UUP 15%, SDLP 15%
    12: Foyle: SDLP 37%, SF 31%, DUP 17%
    13: Sperrins: SF 47%, DUP 19%, SDLP 16%, UUP 9%
    14: Oriel: SF 39%, DUP 25%, UUP 16%, SDLP 14%
    15: Primatial:SF 29%, DUP 25%, UUP 22%, SDLP 13%
    16: Iveagh: DUP 33%, SF 24%, UUP 20%, SDLP 13%

    SF therefore actually gain seats compared to the present situation. (Indeed, I think any scheme which divides their massive advantage in West Belfast among neighbouring seats must have this effect.)

    The big losers are the SDLP who see South Belfast and South Down both split up between neighbouring seats.

    Your L’derry East has a narrow Unionist majority (there are some UKUP votes in the Assembly election not taken into account in the above figures) so I imagine that would just stay DUP in a real election.

    Making that adjustment gives the DUP nine seats, SF six and the SDLP one. If I ran the 2010 figures (obviously much more difficult given the number of tactical withdrawals), we’d have Sylvia Hermon taking your Clandeboy seat off the DUP, and Alliance challenging strongly in Conswater.

  • Barry,

    Just asking you again, do you have any way of actually detecting whether the changes are politically motivated, or are you just going to say that they are, no matter what the commissioners come up with?

  • Mark McGregor


    The NI Commission doesn’t immediately give the impression of apolitical outlook. 2 SoS appointments and a High Court Judge chaired by the Speaker of the HoC (majority directed by the Tories). Hardly a body representative of any form of society here – 3/4s appointed by/comprising people without any regional legitimacy.

  • Drumlins Rock

    NW, thanks for those, the outcomes of course depend on whether AV comes in or not, interestingly the Fermanagh/Oriel balance would be much the same as previously. One or two wards could make alot of difference in some places.

  • john

    I think the SDLP would have a big hairy fit if they faced losing 2 of their 3 seats but you cant please everyone and if AV is brought in it could actually help the SDLP or even the Alliance party in a big way so as I said earlier very interesting times ahead

  • Drumlins Rock

    And guys, try not to sidetrack into Map debates thanks.

    Mark, the last major redraw created a SF seat in West Tyrone, its not easy to gerrymander NI these days, although creating Unionist majority seats in Belfast would involve bringing in much of Newtownabbey, however its not enough for an extra seat.

  • Turgon

    You have email. Fair enough re side tracking onto maps but attempts to claim copyright when none has been stated on a given image are problematic to say the least. Allowing such a precedent could be very dangerous for slugger and should be resisted. Remember the row when the BBC stopped Pete putting up their video stuff. It weakened slugger and was very poor form by them. Trying to threaten copyright in a blog is just as poor form. Most would be delighted someone picked up on their stuff.

  • Reader

    Mark McGregor: Hardly a body representative of any form of society here – 3/4s appointed by/comprising people without any regional legitimacy.
    You say that as though it’s a bad thing. Whereas, in reality, “regional legitimacy” automatically puts the holder under suspicion.
    That’s why we always bring people in to help us with our negotiations; and why SF used to keep running off to Downing Street.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally


    As I understand SF is in favour of all power being resident in Stormo – the resson “are running off to Westminster” is because they are not.

    Not sure how the make up of such a body ties in with Davey Cameron’s view of local accountability. All the parties should campaign for these bodies (just like the parades body) to be transferred to local Ulster control.

  • Drumlins Rock,

    Indeed – AV makes these seats of yours much more interesting. Apart from East L’derry, where transfers will obviously be decisive, it gives Alliance (or, if their fortunes improve, the UUP) a shout in Belfast Conswater and holds out some hope for the SDLP in both Kingdom of Mourne and possibly Belfast Lagan. The UUP become more competitive in a number of other seats too.


    The Boundary Commission’s mode of composition is little different from various other quangos. I ask you what I asked Barry, do you have some means of detecting whether or not its output is politically determined, or are you just assuming that a priori?

    For what it’s worth, I myself don’t see much evidence for political bias in any revision of the Westminster boundaries since 1921. As DR points out, the revision of the 1990s, made by a commission appointed in almost exactly the same way, accepted arguments made by Nationalists about extending West Belfast to include Poleglass and Twinbrook and created a new Nationalist majority seat. Was that the result of objective consideration or a political decision?


    I am glad to inform you that your words are copyright the instant you write them, and your art is copyright the instant you create it, regardless of whether you publish a positive assertion to that effect. If you choose not to defend your intellectual property rights, that’s your affair.

  • Nicholas – that’s an enormous swing to SF in Lagan Valley. They get Paul Butler’s seat back!

  • Alan,

    Yes, that’s because Twinbrook and Poleglass get put back in. Indeed, with SDLP transfers SF should get a second seat in LV at that rate.

  • Reader

    ItwasSammy: All the parties should campaign for these bodies (just like the parades body) to be transferred to local Ulster control.
    That’s what the DUP and SF tried to arrange – a replacement for the Parades Commission – fortunately they failed. I am sure, once we can all trust themuns, or mechanisms, well enough, we can have power back in Stormont, like it used to be.
    ItwasSammy: As I understand SF is in favour of all power being resident in Stormo – the resson “are running off to Westminster” is because they are not.
    Actually, it’s usually because SF aren’t getting what they want from Stormont, and are therefore appealing to a higher (and more congenial) authority to put pressure on the locals. You ought to remember that, because, of all of the posters on Slugger, you mention Downing Street the most.

  • Barry the Blender

    I ask you what I asked Barry, do you have some means of detecting whether or not its output is politically determined, or are you just assuming that a priori?

    The boundary commission in the mid ’90s published a somewhat radical set of proposals which created manys a new seat and abolished many an old. It was basically held up because Mallon and to an extent Martin Smyth couldn’t get their way so many areas were left as they were to suit the political establishment of the day.

    I anticipate that the new electoral map will be drawn in such a way to please our current DUP/Sinn Fein political elite who must be kept happy to ensure that Stormont works [sic].

    But I don’t have a formula or grading system for political bias if that’s what you’re asking.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally


    “Actually, it’s usually because SF aren’t getting what they want from Stormont, and are therefore appealing to a higher (and more congenial) authority to put pressure on the locals. You ought to remember that, because, of all of the posters on Slugger, you mention Downing Street the most.”

    And so they should as it illustrates perfectly the pointlessnes of taking up Westminster seats and the fact things should be run from this side of Irish sea.

  • Barry,

    If you don’t have a means of testing your hypothesis, it’s not a scientific hypothesis but an a priori belief. You’re perfectly entitled to entertain such beliefs, but if you can’t furnish some way of measuring whether they are true or not, I’ll draw my own conclusions.

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru


    Having seen the new map, it struck me as being relatively well designed and E . Londonderry jumped out at me as the new FST, if I may be so bold.

    However I’m not sure how you work out, a slight unionist majority? Do you have a ward by ward/DEA breakdown of the constituency?

    Otherwise, going by your own council election records (remember its only two Coleraine DEAs here) it seems a small but significant nationalist majority to me.

    What do you think?

  • aquifer

    So are we sick of being corralled in sectarian hedge-holes yet? Segmenting the country into geographic fiefdoms ensures that up to half the people don’t get the person they want and real minorities get left out altogether. Alright for the Orange and Green gangs but god help the rest of us, and thanks to the modus operandi of these sectarian gangs we might meet god sooner than we would like.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally


    that sounds like Connolly house taling about partition.

  • Turgon

    Nicholas Whyte,
    “If you don’t have a means of testing your hypothesis, it’s not a scientific hypothesis but an a priori belief. You’re perfectly entitled to entertain such beliefs, but if you can’t furnish some way of measuring whether they are true or not, I’ll draw my own conclusions.”

    Well that is not really correct is it. Almost by definition the boundary commission is political. hence, of course it is politically motivated.

    What you probably mean is that is there a bias in favour or against one political party or grouping.

    Now there may or may not be but again testing it is not really a possibility. In political science unlike in some other forms of science there is often a lack of an agreed objective position from which to measure outcomes. If one outcome favours the DUP the SDLP, UUP and SF may feel it is unfair. However, that may not be the case.

    It might work if the current position is predefined as “fair” but again that is not a universally accepted position.

    I well remember that Eddie McGraddy denounced changes to South Down as the greatest gerrymander in the history of Northern Ireland or some such nonsense. Now that was his perception / spin and it may have been his truth: it was not other people’s however.

    As such in this case demanding a scientifically provable or disprovable hypothesis is a complete nonsense. One can only assess whether or not a given change has improved or weakened a given party or group.

    If Barry feels that there is a bias then for him that is correct: you would be exactly the same. You can argue for or against his position but you cannot disprove it nor demand a set of criteria by which it can be assessed.

    In politics Pilate’s remark is pretty valid: “What is truth”

  • I know it’s of-topic, and a devious notion, but surely the last desperate throw to bring about AV was the noble Baroness Warsi telling her fellow Tories the defeat of AV was their most important aim in the next couple of months.

    Until now I’d been happily warm in the belief that as long as Clegg was in favour it didn’t stand a snowball’s chance.

    Anyway, chaps, don’t start number-crunching on any AV assumption yet.

    Ireland has the curse of Cromwell. England has the curse of Chesterton:

    It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
    God’s scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
    But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
    Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.

  • orly

    So this new “Clandeboye” constituency (interesting name) runs from Holywood to Portaferry?

    Small area compared to say FST but quite an alteration. Following the “coast” to stay in the boundaries its a good 80 minute drive to go from one side to the other. Also would become a very diverse area when you have essentially an extension of Belfast city (Holywood), large town in Bangor and then tiny villages and fishing communities down the peninsula where they don’t even speak any discernible version of English.

    Just pondering how a Holywood, Bangor and N’Ards town one with the rest of this Down area and the Peninsula being grouped would look. Might be too much of a mixture.

  • smellybigoxteronye

    Some points on your revised Co. Antrim names.

    Firstly, “Antrim Plateau” isn’t an accurate name at all as the Antrim Plateau is almost entirely in your “Antrim Glens”!!!

    I’m not sure about “Antrim Glens” either. People in Carrickfergus aren’t really near the glens but are definitely on the coast. I suggested just “Antrim Coast” previously. The tourist board often use the phrase “Antrim Coast & Glens” – maybe a good compromise and offer tourist potential! (despite being a bit more of a mouthful)

    “Antrim Loughshore” is actually quite a clever name, in that the name of the Lough is left ambiguous in a typical NI diplomatic style! (most of it on the shores of Lough Neagh and Newtownabbey of the shores of Belfast Lough)

  • smellybigoxteronye

    … and as a more general comment I think the f*ck all this orange and green nonsense and stick to the local references. So far it generally looks excellent and much more natural than the current boundaries.

    The exception to that is maybe Belfast which has more in common with itself and harder to divide up into multiple constituencies. It’s also has special status as NI’s capital. Perhaps something radical such as dividing up both East and West Belfast with a line perpendicular to the Lagan – we’d then have North-East and South-West constituencies – something that might encourage integration and cooperation.

    … and come-on – Lisburn is not in reality a city – no matter what Jeffrey tells you it’s a suburb of Belfast!! 😛

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru,

    An excellent example of testing a hypothesis. You’re quite right – I had Coleraine East in the wrong constituency. Revised figures are as follows:

    Antrim Plateau: DUP 52%, UUP 17%, SF 13%, SDLP 10% (not very different, as Coleraine East is DUP dominated)
    East L’derry: SF 34%, DUP 29%, SDLP 16%, UUP 14%

    That gives East L’derry a clear Nationalist majority and makes it definitely an SF seat including under AV; which makes the overall balance of seats seven SF, one SDLP and eight DUP, before we start looking at the effects of AV.

    Thanks for catching my error.


    You may not be aware that my academic background is in science and the history and philosophy of science. I like to think that I have acquired a fairly rigorous approach to this sort of thing. What happened here is that both Barry and Mark alleged that a group of people – most of whom have not even been appointed yet – will make their decisions – which we won’t see until at least a year from now – for political reasons rather than on the objective criteria which are in their job description. That strikes me as a rather bold assertion, indeed an prediction of misconduct, about people who don’t yet exist and the decisions which they have not yet made, and it seems to me reasonable to ask how we will be able to tell if that assertion is true or not.

    Mark offers an argument about the manner in which these people are appointed, which however doesn’t tell us much about the decisions they have not yet made. Barry has admitted that he has no formula or grading system for political bias, ie, if I may paraphrase, he has no way of telling whether his statement is true. Your own reply is, more or less, that Barry, Mark and you (and I) need only look into your own hearts to be sure of the Truth. My own view is that statements which can be objectively tested against reality in some way are stronger statements for precisely that reason; and if your Truth cannot be supported by Facts, perhaps it is not actually true. If, as you suggest, demanding a test for Barry’s statement is nonsense, that may be a good indication that Barry’s untestable statement itself is not very valuable.

  • Dewi

    That’s a stark East / West divide – AV won’t change that – indeed will reinforce it,

  • Drumlins Rock

    NW, just to clarify what I meant by “Coleraine-Ports” to get the Antrim one down under 80k, and to avoid splitting a large town, the 3 urban wards of Coleraine East should remain in East Londonderry, with the rural wards to Antrim. Although this pushes EL to the 80k it is wrong to split the town, possibly to bring EL down to average the Ward of Greysteel should be transferred to Foyle as it is in many ways a satellite of L’Derry.

  • Turgon

    Nicholas Whyte,
    The point is that you ask Barry and Mark to present a system to assess bias as opposed to accepting that they were objective criteria.

    The problem is that this is not going to have a simple answer. How does one accept objectivity? Equal numbers of voters in each constituency: almost impossible. Then within community groups the different numbers of each side and the likely liberal / hard line-ness of those voters. All these are extremely variable.

    Even if the people setting up the boundaries feel they are being objective others will very likely feel that they are not and so complex are the possiblities for bias that the objectors will almost certainly feel justified in their claims: c.f. my comment abnout McGrady.

    As to the persons selected: they do exist; the fact that you do not know who they are does not mean they do not exist. They may not yet have been appointed but they assuredly exist unless the commission will be composed entirely of infants.

    Since the people to do this job exist they inevitably have their biases. Now they may try to use the objective criteria (which we have demonstrated are not actually objective) as much as they can but the reality is that they cannot but bring bias or indeed over compensation for bias to their deliberations.

    Barry and Mark fear a lack of objectivity and for them the process may very well not be objective. Tell me what criteria will you use to assess objectivity? Are your criteria more valid than anyone else’s. You clearly have your own political biases and prejudices which makes you far, far from objective. It is not anything like as simple as it seems.

    On a final point you say:
    “You may not be aware that my academic background is in science and the history and philosophy of science. I like to think that I have acquired a fairly rigorous approach to this sort of thing. “

    You say “I like to think”
    That is not an objective statement: it is a subjective analysis of your own intellectual position. I might suggest that unless you have a PhD in the subject and are a Professor of the Philosophy of Science that you do not really cut it. Even if you do I might just as well suggest that I only take seriously those who are Professors at Oxbridge.

    Finally as an aside you are fairly new to commenting: you are no doubt so clever and so well trained that you need not listen to an illeducated country bumpkin who achieved precious little at Queens (I kind of got there by default) and have achieved precious little intellectually, financially or any other way since (see my post on changing my car after it began to fall apart). However, if I may be so bold as to advise a superior intellect: try a bit less condescending pompous arrogance. Your comments have value because of how well they are argued not because of your personal importance in the real world. The fact that I (country half wit) have some currency on this site and can debate with a superior intellect is because I argue my case. Stick to that and the superiority of what you achieved at Queens over what the likes of me achieved will shine through. We have had people pronouncing their academic brilliance on here before and they tend not to get far. Down here (to quote Portora’a second best writer – a distant second): We are all in the gutter.

    I am sure you know who is the best writer from Portora and the Nobel committee seem to have acknowledged that. Then again that is fairly subjective as well

  • Drumlins Rock,

    Thanks for the clarification, which does indeed make more sense.

    As you would expect that makes East L’Derry much closer again: SF 32%, DUP 30%, SDLP 15%, UUP 15%; I make the total Nationalist vote 48% and total Unionist 47% but with Alliance transfers and other bits and bobs holding the balance. Basically it’s too close to call.
    (The Antrim Plateau figures on the other hand are barely changed: DUP 52%, UUP 16%, SF 13%, SDLP 10%.)


    I really have no idea what you are trying to argue, nor why you are taking that tone. For your information I have been commenting on Slugger since 2002; and I do indeed have a PhD in the history and philosophy of science. I am sorry if you thought I was patronising you; but if people are talking nonsense, I will often tell them so, and I intend to continue to do so.

  • I do indeed have a PhD in the history and philosophy of science.

    I don’t. But I have heard of Occam’s Razor (see also Leibniz’s “identity of observables”).

    On the basis of the latter, though obviously not of the former, I propose there’s an awful lot of guff being spouted here. Why not save it for the Boundary Commissioners’ report, or better still, lodge your notions with them.

    The decision of boundaries will very much hang upon the contradictory evidence proposed by the local councils and existing constituency organisations: lobby them.

    Meanwhile, don’t bother to extrapolate into the land of fantasy. And AV? …. phooeee!

  • Valenciano

    Thanks for that Drumlin. I’d posted my own thoughts on UK Polling report. We are largely thinking along the same lines although with some modifications. The 16 I had were:

    FERMANAGH AND WEST TYRONE (or Fermanagh and Omagh), 71684
    Fermanagh; Omagh council (except 4 Omagh wards placed in Mid Ulster)

    Both councils.

    MID ULSTER, 72490
    Strabane, Cookstown, 4 Mid Tyrone wards, 7 Magherafelt wards including Magherafelt town itself

    FOYLE, 72573
    Derry district

    Coleraine, Limavady, the other 9 Magherafelt wards not in Mid Ulster

    NORTH ANTRIM, 76965
    Moyle, Ballymoney, Ballymena

    EAST ANTRIM, 72817
    Larne, Carrick, Jordanstown, Monkstown, Rostulla, Ballynure and the 6 Macedon DEA wards

    SOUTH ANTRIM, 72114
    the rest of Newtownabbey, all of Antrim district, Glenavy ward

    LAGAN VALLEY, 71964
    as present plus the 4 Banbridge council wards currently in South Down

    23 Belfast city wards from Bellevue to Falls Park ward inclusive

    BELFAST SOUTH, 78179
    current seat excluding Castlereagh wards, plus remaining Belfast West wards, plus Ballymaccarrett and The Mount wards

    BELFAST EAST, 77225
    The other 9 Belfast city wards, Castlereagh.

    NORTH DOWN, 74288
    current seat plus Ards Peninsula DEA

    MID DOWN, 72801
    rest of Ards, all of Down except the 4 Newcastle wards

    Newry&Mourne council, plus 4 Newcastle wards

    UPPER BANN, 77983

    Those have much more chance of making it than your proposals. Ignoring existing seats for a fresh start as you propose is all great and good, but it ignores the rules that they work under, especially rule 5 which has usually been interpreted as meaning that they need to keep changes to a minimum. On a minor point, mine also split less council areas and for me are a bit more logical overall. Putting Moyle in a North Antrim seat or Poleglass and Twinbrook in a Belfast seat are much more likely to be passed in a review than the alternatives that you propose which have been rejected in the past.

    Furthermore, your proposed names, fun as they are, are largely non starters. The commissions have to choose names which command widespread public support. Names like Lecale, Oriel and Primatial will be meaningless to the average voter compared to alternatives which actually mention the localities that they cover.

  • vanhelsing

    Great post DR. It will indeed be interesting if it all goes through…loved the names! btw clandeboye has an ‘e’ 🙂


  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Yes, really interesting post DR – but disappointing perhaps that you have you have been so undivsive in your nomenclature – well except for 11 of course – has it not got any hills or rivers or even drumlins we can use?

  • Valenciano,

    Can’t find your post on UK polling report – it’s a frustrating site for finding archived comments! But my take on your proposals, projecting again the 2007 Assembly election results, is:

    Fermanagh and West Tyrone: SF 38%, DUP 24%, UUP 18%, SDLP 15%

    Armagh and Dungannon:SF 36%, DUP 21%, UUP 19%, SDLP 15%

    Mid Ulster: SF 45%, DUP 21%, SDLP 16%, UUP 12%

    Foyle: SDLP 37%, SF 31%, DUP 17%

    East Londonderry: DUP 34%, SF 27%, UUP 16%, SDLP 14%

    North Antrim: DUP 49%, SF 16%, UUP 14%, SDLP 12%

    East Antrim: DUP 46%, UUP 21%, Alliance 15%, SDLP 6%, SF 5%

    South Antrim: DUP 34%, UUP 20%, SF 18%, Alliance 13%, SDLP 12%

    Lagan Valley (assuming WB wards come back in): DUP 41%, SF 21%, UUP 16%, SDLP 8%, Alliance 8%

    Belfast North West: SF 44%, DUP 28%, SDLP 13%, UUP 6%

    Belfast South: SF 31%, SDLP 23%, DUP 17%, UUP 13%, Alliance 10%

    Belfast East: DUP 39%, UUP 21%, Alliance 17%, SDLP 6%, SF 4%

    North Down: DUP 34%, UUP 22%, Alliance 11%, SDLP 6%

    Mid Down: DUP 47%, UUP 17%, SDLP 11%, SF 8%, Alliance 8%

    Newry and Mourne: SF 39%, SDLP 29%, DUP 13%, UUP 8%

    Upper Bann: DUP 31%, SF 25%, UUP 21%, SDLP 12%

    Makes six SF, one SDLP and nine DUP on Assembly first prefs; AV would make some of these more interesting though. Also, as stated before, these 2007 figures don’t take account of the Alliance surge in 2010 or of Lady Hermon.

    I note that you too condemn two of the three SDLP seats to dispersal (though again AV, or even tactical voting if there’s no AV, may make a difference there).

  • john

    As I said earlier Its not going to come across great that the 2 seats lost are both the SDLPs surely a more proportional redraw will see the 2 big parties SF and DUP lose a seat each – how practical or easy that is though is another story.

  • Reader

    john: surely a more proportional redraw will see…
    That’s exactly what the commission shouldn’t do – i.e. they shouldn’t second guess the behaviour of the electorate; they should only try to identify natural communities within the tight size constraints they have been given.

  • Valenciano

    Nicholas thanks for that. On Lagan Valley though, the West Belfast wards don’t come back in: Poleglass, Kilwee, Colinglen, Twinbrook, Dunmurry and Derriaghy North go to Belfast South though that doesn’t really affect your overall calculations. While it’s not reflected in a strict extrapolation of 2007 results into possible new seats, I think Sylvia Hermon would hold an enlarged North Down seat. Bearing 2010 in mind though, realistically how would replacing bits of Pottinger with the rest of Castlereagh affect Alliance chances?

    Ironically the decision to have 16 seats rather than 15 is terrible for the SDLP. 15 seats would have left them Foyle and an enlarged South Down. A 15 seat solution as we discussed once would have seen a Sinn Fein seat abolished in the west, South Belfast abolished and a DUP seat lost in the east. As it is these possibles seem to result in DUP -1, SDLP -2 and SF+1.

  • Turgon

    Nicholas Whyte,
    You know exactly what I am trying to argue. It is that one cannot objectively measure bias or lack thereof in a subject such as the redrawing of boundaries.

    As such you cannot demand of Barry or Mark that they present an hypothesis to accept or refute. As you will know (if indeed you do have a PhD) social sciences often have to use other mechanisms of assessment than the physical sciences.

    You are not an objective observer in all this nor am I nor is anyone else. We can try but to preen about objectivity would merely show ourselves to have completely missed the point (again as the holder of a doctorate you are probably much better equipped than me to know that).

    In terms of objectivity in this case and your demands of barry and Mark you were being patronising and indeed were talking nonsense.

    Still I gave you a chance to tell us about your PhD so I guess you owe me one.

    I on the other hand have never told anyone about my postgraduate degree. but I will link to it to prove I have it. There you go so from now on I demand being addressed as Dr. Turgon.

  • Valenciano

    Reader, although they denied it last time, it was pretty clear that at the last review, the commission, mindful of the controversy in 1995, drew seats which preserved the sectarian balance. Like God, they work in mysterious ways so we’ll see how their proposals work out this time. If there is one good thing about the review, it’s that at least this time they’ll get their skates on as they have to report by October. Last time they dragged it out (although partly that was down to them waiting on a local government review which never happened) and were one of the last commissions to report along with Greater Manchester.

  • dup voter

    Nicholas Whyte: your projections for Valencio’s Dungannon and Armagh seat don’t fit the figures.The last local elections for these 2 councils showed the combined unionist and nationalist vote as approximately equal rather than the pronounced nationalist advantage your figures show. A single unionist candidate would most likely win this hypothetical seat.

  • Valenciano, DR,

    I’m working up my own proposals; haven’t got to full details yet (and would welcome collaboration), but I reckon that if you start by preserving the SDLP in South Down (and likewise keep Upper Bann and Newry+Armagh more or less as they are), you get four Nationalist seats in the West (3 SF, 1 SDLP) and most of Coleraine being joined on to Ballymoney and other bits and bobs to make a DUP-held Lower Bann seat. Slightly to my surprise I find that this could also keep West Belfast largely intact, with South Belfast being carved up among its neighbours, and South and East Antrim being merged with bits carved off for North Antrim and North Belfast.

    This would cause less political distress than either of your options, in that the seats lost are one SDLP and one DUP, and it preserves a Unionist presence west of the Bann. But I admit I haven’t yet managed to make the numbers quite come out right.

  • Turgon,

    I simply don’t understand why you think it is unfair to ask people for evidence or proof to back up their statements, especially when they are accusing other people of undue political bias. But I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

  • Dewi

    Turgon – you can’t start a feud with Nicholas Whyte…he’s almost as famous as his Dad!

  • DUP voter,

    My figures give combined Nationalists in Armagh / Dungannon only 51% on 2007 figures, and there are some votes from Paul Berry (most of the 5% he got in the real poll) which weren’t enough to headline in my summary, but are enough to make the Un/Nat gap narrower than the ‘pronounced advantage’ that may have appeared.

    From the local elections of 2005, Nationalists do lead Unionists, by just over a thousand votes – 25657 to 24650. I make the party shares SF 31%, DUP 27%, UUP 20%, SDLP 18%, others 4%, within spitting distance of my Assembly projections.

    In any case, I agree with you that a single Unionist candidate in such a seat would have a chance against two Nationalists; the gap to close is less than in Fermanagh-South Tyrone last year.

    But I also think it quite probable that this particular corner of the electoral map will remain largely untouched in the current round of revisions.

  • lamhdearg

    7 might cause a row,

  • Turgon

    You know that I am no respect-er of persons. I deal with people as I deem it appropriate. In return I expect no credit nor have no importance of my own.

    Incidentally please use my new title of Dr. I have linked to proof of my entitlement to it.

  • Turgon

    Sorry typo: I expect no credit and have no importance of my own.

    Incidentally I will link again to my PhD in case you do not believe me.

  • Valenciano

    Nicholas, strictly speaking, the 16 seat option I proposed would keep a Unionist seat west of the Bann. However you’re right that there’s another option. Here it is:

    Fermanagh and Dungannon councils

    WEST TYRONE 71213
    Current seat plus Dunnamore, Pomeroy, Oaklands, Sandholes, Stewartstown, Killycolpy

    MID ULSTER 71557
    Current seat minus 6 Cookstown wards transferred to West Tyrone. Gains Limavady district and Garvagh and Kilrea wards.

    Coleraine district (except 2 wards placed in Mid Ulster); Moyle and Ballymoney districts; Portglenone and Dunminning wards

    MID ANTRIM 71557
    Ballymena (except 2 wards placed in Causeway Coast); Larne district; the 5 wards of Antrim north west DEA

    SOUTH ANTRIM 73361
    Antrim district (except 5 wards placed in Mid Antrim); Carrickfergus district; Ballyclare DEA; Jordanstown, Monkstown and Rostulla wards

    Newtownabbey (except the 8 wards in South Antrim above); Oldpark and Castle DEAs

    BELFAST WEST 75000
    Court, Lower Falls and Upper Falls DEAs; Finaghy, Musgrave, Kilwee, Twinbrook, Poleglass, Dunmurry, Derriaghy, Collinglen

    the other 22 Belfast city wards

    NORTH DOWN 76612
    Current seat plus Loughries and Ards Peninsula DEA

    Castlereagh council, the rest of Ards not in North Down

    SOUTH DOWN 77112
    All of Down council together with the bits of Newry and Mourne currently in South Down.

    LAGAN VALLEY 75032
    Current seat minus Derriaghy south (transferred to Belfast West) ; gains Glenavy ward and the 4 Banbridge council wards currently in South Down

    No change

    UPPER BANN 76209
    No change

    That is probably politically more palatable as it means SDLP and DUP losses.

  • Valenciano,
    Thanks, I think this looks very convincing.

    The scores on the doors (again using the 2007 Assembly results as I project them) are:

    FST: SF 40%, DUP 23%, UUP 18%, SDLP 15%

    West Tyrone: SF 45%, DUP 21%, SDLP 15%, UUP 9%

    Mid Ulster: SF 40%, DUP 24%, SDLP 17%, UUP 12%

    Foyle (not mentioned in your summary but = Derry City Council): SDLP 37%, SF 31%, DUP 17%

    Causeway Coast: DUP 45%, SF 17%, UUP 17%, SDLP 13%

    Mid Antrim: DUP 47%, UUP 17%, SF 12%, SDLP 10%, Alliance 8%

    South Antrim: DUP 42%, UUP 23%, Alliance 15%, SF 8%, SDLP 6%

    Belfast North: DUP 35%, SF 27%, SDLP 13%, UUP 12%, Alliance 6%

    Belfast West: SF 58%, DUP 16%, SDLP 14%

    Belfast South East: DUP 30%, UUP 20%, Alliance 16%, SDLP 15%, SF 8%

    North Down: DUP 35%, UUP 22%, Alliance 11%, SDLP 6%

    Castlereagh and Newtownards (surely ‘Mid Down’?): DUP 46%, UUP 20%, Alliance 13%, SDLP 7%

    South Down: SDLP 31%, SF 30%, DUP 18%, UUP 9%

    Lagan Valley: DUP 49%, UUP 19%, SF 10%, Alliance 9%, SDLP 6%

    Newry and Armagh: SF 42%, SDLP 20%, UUP 13%, DUP 13%

    Upper Bann: DUP 31%, SF 25%, UUP 21%, SDLP 12%

    On first prefs from 2007, that’s five SF, two SDLP and nine DUP, so DUP and SDLP each, as you say, lose one. AV doesn’t make much difference, only Belfast South East and North Down (if Lady Hermon does not run) become at all interesting, with very marginal chances for the UUP in South Antrim and SDLP in Newry and Armagh.

    Apart from South Belfast (and Limavady), the vast majority of voters would expect to have an MP of the same party as they do at present, after these changes are brought in. I must say it looks a convincing scheme to me.

  • RyanAdams

    The scheme above is interesting, because while SF will still (likely) win five seats at Westminister, they will be hurt at Assembly Elections. Especially in the proposed Belfast’s above – They will likely remain static in North Belfast, but on revised West Belfast will likely lose the seat gained in 2007 back to the DUP for sure. Also in South East Belfast, Alex Maskey would surely struggle to hold on to his Assembly Seat. Seats also look quite vunerable in Antrim and Down.

  • Valenciano

    @Nicholas, yes sorry I forgot Foyle, but it’s Derry council as you say. Regarding the Ards-Castlereagh one, I called it Castlereagh and Newtownards because that’s what the commission called the very similar seat they recommended in the 1995 review and that name survived the review (though the seat didn’t.) Mid Down would cover it just as well I guess.

    @Ryan, just for the hell of it, guesstimates based on those figures above, Sinn Fein wouldn’t be that badly affected.

    I have
    DUP 31 (-5)
    SF 27 (-1)
    UUP 16 (-2)
    APNI 6 (-1)
    SDLP 13 (-3)
    PUP, Deeny and Greens one each, no change

    That’s based on 2007 and is obviously just an educated guess at what would happen. The first four seats and usually the fifth were generally easy to call, the sixth seat in some cases wasn’t. Fermanagh I have SF beating the DUP for the last seat, Deeny holding his seat in West Tyrone, Alliance overtaking the SDLP in Mid Antrim and then getting elected on their transfers, SF to beat a unionist for the last seat in South Antrim, UUP’s second candidate beating the fourth DUP runner in Castlereagh and the Greens and PUP holding their seats, the last the most dubious as it’s hard to say what support the PUP would have throughout south Belfast and a UUP win there is possible instead.

  • Valenciano,

    It’s interesting how SF do a lot better, proportionally speaking, for Assembly elections if you rejig the boundaries – I found the same when I tried running the figures for the 15-seat arrangements we were speculating about previously.

    I think under current boundaries a lot of SF votes are ‘wasted’, in that they have x seats but x+0.7 quotas, to the extent that it cancels out the seat bonus that they would normally expect as second largest party and largest Nationalist party. (They got 25.9% of the seats in 2007 for 26.2% of the vote.) Any rearrangement of boundaries will likely serve them better and restore the normal ‘seat bonus’ effect; your figures give them 28.1% of the new seats on the same 26.2% of the vote, which seems realistic.

  • RyanAdams

    Out of interest Nicholas are these figures a true reflection of the local areas being moved or have you based them on an average of the entire constituency they have been moved from? (Homogenous) maybe the word I am looking for?

  • smellybigoxteronye

    Nicholas Whyte, can you really count the South Belfast seat as an SDLP loss given the nature of unionist vote splitting. I woulddn’t count this as a “nationalist loss” given that this seat is pretty much anyone’s game.

  • RyanAdams,

    a ‘true reflection’, I don’t know, but it’s my best guess at allowing for the internal diversity of each of the present seats. I definitely would not treat the current constituencies as homogenous for this sort of analysis.


    While of course this are merely projections from an election four years ago in the most electorally volatile part of Northern Ireland, and it’s also true that Alliance, for instance, won their current Westminster seat having come third with 17% in the same constituency in 2007, I have to say that the SDLP has a very high mountain to climb on these boundaries: the combined Nationalist vote is less than half the combined Unionist vote, and they are starting from fourth place. Anything is possible, but some things are more possible than others, and I don’t think the SDLP winning in a South East Belfast which looks like this is one of them.

  • Valenciano

    @Nicholas, I don’t know that I’d agree. There aren’t that many seats where SF have wasted votes. Upper Bann is certainly one, but that doesn’t change under these boundaries. Fermanagh is another but they gain an assembly seat there under the new boundaries, so that only leaves the East L’derry one which gets split in any event. I think the real reason is that a lot of SDLP seats are borderline wins at the minute but wouldn’t be under the new set up and SF benefit from the transfers of those eliminated candidates.

    As a general rule I think there are two reasons why SF don’t get much of a seat bonus compared to the DUP. Firstly transfers between the two Unionist parties are much greater whereas SDLP voters in the east are as likely to transfer to Alliance as SF. Secondly on the Unionist side there’s a lot more competition from micro parties and independents who take first prefs away from the DUP which subsequently come back in transfers. That doesn’t apply to SF.

    @smellybigox, the point is South Belfast ceases to exist under these boundaries. So what you get is South Belfast losing Finaghy, a good area for the SDLP, to West Belfast and then being merged with East Belfast where the SDLP have negligible support. Frankly I think there’s more chance of the SDLP winning the most seats in the next assembly election than there is of them winning a south east Belfast seat.

  • smellybigoxteronye

    @Valenciano, yes I know that South Belfast would no longer exist. My point is in a previous post that I think Nicholas (or whomever it was) was proposing boundary changes that would maintain the current sectarian balance by losing 1 “Unionist” and 1 “Nationalist” seat. My point is that this isn’t really true and that it is a much more complex situation.

  • Barry the Blender

    Nicholas Whyte seems to take view that any such boundary commission shall be completely fair and balanced, which I think is a somewhat niave position.

    But you’ve posted at length about how terribly clever you are so that’s ok.

    But what I really wanted to let you know was on the subject of copyright, namely yours.

    Sinn Fein assocaition websites have been pinching your elections results pages ( see ). If you’ve given permission then that’s all well and good, but I don’t see your name anywhere and at the bottom it says Copyright 2011 Fermanagh South Tyrone Sinn Féin. .

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Barry the Blender ,

    Good spot.

  • Barry,

    Thanks very much for flagging that up. As you will notice, action has been taken!

  • “The boundaries will be politically motivated.”

    That seems a fairly reasonable presumption, Barry, especially with the change from 18 to 16 seats. The process is directed by the NIO and the NIO will take its direction from London and Dublin – with London having the final say. It’s a BIIGS Idea (geddit?).

    The Chair of the Boundaries Commission is automatically the Speaker of the House of Commons so I’d be surprised if any future Vice-Chair would be from the Unionist ‘tribe’.

    The Speaker of the House requires no academic qualifications and is unlikely to have any great familiarity with the nuances of NI’s political demographics; the Vice-Chair, on the other hand, is a local High Court judge.

    The other two members of the Commission are chosen by the Secretary of State following one of our, by now, well known ‘independent’ appointments processes. I doubt if any folks who are opposed to or who are sceptical of the current constitutional ‘dispensation’ would get any where near the final selection process. No Independents need apply :L

    Take the following with a bucketful of salt:

    “The Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland (BCNI) is an Advisory Non-departmental Public Body sponsored and funded by the Northern Ireland Office. It is an independent, non-political body constituted by the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 as amended by the Boundary Commissions Act 1992 and Part 2 of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 which sets out the Commission’s duties and powers.”

  • Well, Nevin, all I’m asking is that you tell me how you will know whether or not these decisions that have not yet been taken by people who have mostly not yet been appointed are politically motivated.

    Barry at least has admitted that he doesn’t have any way of telling if they are or not. Do you?

  • Drumlins Rock

    AV could throw up some unusual scenarios, ie. could SDLP voters transfer no 2. votes to a moderate UUP candidate in FST in return for Unionist transfers in Foyle and South Down?

  • Indeed, DR, that sort of scenario does become practical with AV. Of course, it supposes that the UUP are a more attractive destination for Nationalist transfers than the DUP, which may not necessarily always be the case.

    (And indeed, first preferences are more worth doing a deal over than transfers, but that may be a bridge too far.)

  • Nicholas, it’s a political process so therefore it will be automatically gerrymandered.

    It’s also worth emphasising that the Commission is an Advisory NDPB ie final changes are in the hands of the Secretary of State with input from London and Dublin.

    Are you familiar with the machinations of the Anglo-Irish Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin? Eamon Delaney in “An Accidental Diplomat” describes his role in the South Down Affair [pp317-9]. Eamon describes AID as a ‘virtual SDLP constituency office’ in the 1980s. The Boundary Commission had recommended the abolition of the South Down seat and replacing it with a smaller area so you can imagine the AID phone-lines were hot as the SDLP went apoplectic.

    Delaney: “The fiction of the SDLP’s independence – mirroring, they would argue, the fiction of an independent Boundary Commission – was illustrated by the fact that having written the [appeal] document on their behalf in the first place, we then had to draft Spring’s response to this ‘interesting submission’.”

    Spring on TV: “I understand the SDLP are making an appeal”.

  • Mark McGregor


    A long way back in the thread you ask me did a similarly appointed Commission that accepted nationalist arguments indicate objectivity or bias.

    I’d suggest accepting nationalist arguments answers that question.

    This thread with people trying to work out political outcomes indicates that too many of those interested in the discussion, have an interest in the discussion.

    Politics and politicos should be totally removed from the equation. Indeed even using our current constituencies as the starting poi9nt and tinkering with wards in most cases demonstrates a level of constricted thinking that should be absent from the thought processes of those doing the reviewing.

    Trying to identify as best possible the 16 shouldn’t have any bias – historical or political.

  • Mark,

    Really, you have every right to put that forward, but how on earth do you propose to implement that?

    I actually think that the public consultation element is one of the strengths of the system.

    Yes, in 1995 it did result in an arrangement which was more favourable to the SDLP (in South Down and Newry and Armagh) and SF (in West Belfast) than the Commission’s original proposals. But I was there at the time, and the fact is that the nationalist parties made very good arguments, through written submissions and in public hearings, which others had the chance to contest (and we did not do so very effectively).

    The SDLP submission regarding the South Down and Newry and Armagh seats was a little weird in places, and if DFA had a hand in drafting it that may explain why; but in the end, they had a good point and the alternative proposal was not better. Likewise, the SF-generated submissions on why West Belfast should include Twinbrook and Poleglass were superbly assembled and made a very effective case.

    The 1995 revision, like all such exercises, was a quasi-judicial process which had public consultation elements in which all political actors had a chance to participate. Some did so with more energy than others, and they accordingly reaped the rewards of their efforts. But to summarise all of that by saying that the outcome was ‘politically motivated’ is dishonest and lazy.

    And to say that the next round of revisions will be politically motivated, before the commissioners have even been appointed let alone issued any recommendations, is simply prejudice; you should know better.

  • Nevin,

    it’s a political process so therefore it will be automatically gerrymandered.

    If as you say all these decisions are politically motivated, then you are not actually making a useful statement when you say that this one is.

    It’s also worth emphasising that the Commission is an Advisory NDPB

    I don’t know of any recent occasion when such a commission has been overruled by its political masters; do you?

    The Boundary Commission had recommended the abolition of the South Down seat and replacing it with a smaller area

    Not actually correct in detail, but I’m sure it’s not the worst inaccuracy in Delany’s book.

    having written the [appeal] document on their behalf in the first place

    As noted above, I thought it looked rather odd at the time. The SDLP would have done better to trust their own lawyers than to run to Dublin on this one.

  • Nicholas, I’m merely recognising political realities. As to the influence of political masters Delaney would have a much better insight on this than we ‘outsiders’ would. As you probably know London sometimes rubber-stamps Dublin proposals.

    Why run to lawyers when you have a direct line to the political masters? Delaney’s input may have been a little weird – he attempted to strip it of DFA jargon and phrasing; perhaps he didn’t have an opportunity to check it with a Northern born colleague.

    We know from NIAO correspondence that NIAO draft reports have been scrutinised and amended by senior civil servants ie the final report isn’t independent. The BC is selected by the political masters. Perhaps the latter can do likewise to BC ‘independent’ reports; we outsiders can speculate, we can suggest that the winners made better arguments, we can toss out easy jibes like lazy, dishonest and prejudice but we don’t know. I’ll remain sceptical in the light of patterns of behaviour and experience; I’ll continue to ask questions.

  • Valenciano

    Nevin, if it is gerrymandered as you say, then that begs the question cui bono? Who benefits from the gerrymandering? Having watched the last two reviews closely and participated in the last one, I can’t see any systematic bias towards any one party or section of society. It’s usually down to who argues their case best at the enquiries.

    @smellybigox, there’s zero chance of nationalists winning such a southeast Belfast seat so yes it will be 1 Unionist loss and 1 nationalist loss.

    Mark I’m not sure what alternative system you suggest? It’s part of the rules that the commission minimise disruption and that’s usually interpreted as keeping the existing seats unless absolutely necessary. This is why the original 1995 proposals were a no no. Too many constituencies were cut in two and rejoined in different ways. The advantage of minimising disruption is that people get to know which constituency they live in and who their local MP is instead of being constantly shifted around. This is actually a flaw of the new rules by the way. Having reviews every 5 years and enforcing a 5% quota deviation breaks that. But that’s another story.

  • Valenciano, surely it’s supposed to be as independent a process as possible, not who has the best lawyers or who has the best access to the political masters in London and Dublin.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Resurrecting an old one here, but have got clarification from the Boundary Commission that they are using the ward boundaries and electorate of December 2010 to base their revisions on, existing councils and DEA’s are not officially factors, but obviously often follow natural boundaries. Although several of the existing constituencies fall within the roughly 70-80k range, the knock effects from other changes will probably leave few unchanged. In particular the West does not divide easily without impacting those Armagh/Down constiuencies. Has anyone else been looking at this recently?

  • As I understand, the result of the AV referendum means that the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 has to come back for repeal of Part 1.

    A wrecking amendment?

    Any chance that could put the rest, especially Schedule 2, back into play? I cannot believe that Labour (might one assume with DUP support?) will not at least make the gesture, which means a lot depends on which amendments the Speaker chooses to call.

    Tempus fugit

    The Boundary Commissions are not required to report back until 1st October 2013. There has to be twelve weeks of public consultation. Then Parliament has to consider the recommendations. That looks to me as if no hard-and-fast lines can be established before 2014.

    So, if this ConDem arrangement collapses before then …

  • As I understand, the result of the AV referendum means that the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 has to come back for repeal of Part 1.

    Not sure if that is right. Section 8(2) of the Act says:

    If more votes are not cast in the referendum in favour of the answer “Yes” than in favour of the answer “No”, the Minister must make an order repealing the alternative vote provisions.

    So only an order in council on that one issue is required, and there would clearly be a parliamentary majority for it.

  • DR,

    I think previous analysis on this thread shows that there are two key strategic decisions from which all else follows:

    1) whether to straddle the Blackwater (Armagh/Dungannon) or the Lower Bann (Coleraine/Moyle).

    2) whether the extra numbers to make the third seat in Belfast are drawn more from Castlereagh or from Newtownabbey.

    I doubt if the new numbers will change more than minor details to the models we discussed back in March.

  • Valenciano

    Drumlin’s Rock, it doesn’t affect the figures which I posted back then which were based on December electorates anyway.

    Nicholas, what happens to Belfast basically depends on whether they go for the Lower Bann option, which means most of Newtownabbey goes to Belfast North, or the Blackwater option which means a Castlereagh/Newtownards Road seat. As we agreed back then the Lower Bann option is by far the most likely.

  • RyanAdams

    DR, I found that too while attempting my own suggestion. The West is nearly impossible to deal with, with out seriously having impacts as far away as Ballynahinch!

    When I had finished I found it turned out nearly identical to Valenciano’s proposals, completly by accident. I have a feeling this will be something similar to what the BC opt for.

  • Drumlins Rock

    It seems we can agree that there are basically two options available, I personally prefer the Blackwater bridge option, but I’m sure it has weaknesses in other areas. Would like to know if there is a realistic third option, can compare the pros and cons of the first two.
    PS I still think one constituency for all of Newry makes sense as I think its importance will increase in decades to come, dare I say to rival L’Derry as the second city!