New Boundaries for 16 seats..

>Here’s Lewis Baston’s Democratic Audit Model with his view of the proposed 16 seats for Northern Ireland at Westminster.
It’s quite detailed. No change in North Antrim but everywhere else does…
Belfast down to 3 (looks like 1 strong Nationalist and 2 Unionist to my eye but I’m certain that others will know better..)
Upper Bann is shared around a bit with 40% going to the new seat of South Neagh, the rest coming from FST, Mid-Ulster and Newry & Armagh -marginal nationalist?
West Tyrone scrapped and divvied up, to Mid-Ulster, FST and Foyle. East (L)Derry gains 9,000 votes from Foyle.
In summary looks like 9-7….


  • Hmmm. Note that Loughbrickland appears to be in two seats simultaneously!

  • dwatch

    I think most expected this reform coming from 18 down to 16 MP’s, and the reduction of assembly members as well as local councils to be reduced from 26 to 11.

    But if there are plans to reform the Assembly what is the SDLP’s and Alliance’s position? Surely they can’t both support SF against an opposition and who insist in keeping the same D’Hondt mandatory system in place at present?

    ‘MLAs split over plans to reform Assembly’

  • Obelisk

    I’m wondering if theres anyone out there who can apply the results of the last election to these new proposed constituencies, the results would surely be interesting.

    Couple of quick questions, is Mark Durkan safe in the new expanded Foyle?

    Is the Fermanagh South Tyrone seat now a permaneant ‘Nationalist’ one with the addition of more Tyrone wards?

    South Neagh does look like a Nationalist marginal at a ‘very’ quick glance so it’s going to be the replacement FST. Can the Unionist parties find a unity candidate in good time?

  • They have Tavanagh in Lagan Valley and South Neagh as well, which makes me wonder, what’s the point in using local authority wards if these are all due to be redrawn as well? Also what, if any, effect should the census results feed into the new boundaries?

  • Ulick, you’re mixing up Tavanagh and Taghnevan. One is in Portadown, the other in Lurgan.

  • Valenciano

    No disrespect to Lewis Baston, but those are pretty awful proposals and it’s unlikely that anything like that will emerge. North East Belfast? Ugly and the fact that as Baston himself admits, the seat wouldn’t even have been feasible pre-1995 is symptomatic of the lack of connection between the two parts. Belfast actually splits neatly into a North Belfast/urban Newtownabbey seat, a Falls/Shankill/Dunmurry Cross/Finaghy seat, a “rest of Belfast city” South and East Belfast seat and a suburban Castlereagh/Comber/Newtownards seat.

    Snaking, almost gerrymander style seats, like his Sion Mills in Foyle, Gransha in Strangford or worst of all Moneyreagh in North Down, would never survive local inquiries.

    Loughbrickland, as Nicholas notes, appears to have the distinction of electing two MPs, but disregarding that obvious error, they tried to separate it from Banbridge in 1995 and that failed, so it’s unlikely they’d get away with arguing that it has links with Lisburn but not Banbridge.

    He also fails to appreciate the rules. While the rules do say that the local government boundaries which must be respected are wards, they’ve usually interpreted the “local ties” rule as meaning that local councils shouldn’t be split where avoidable, since people that live in those areas are represented by the same council. The councils themselves are quick to object to any unnecessary splits. So the fact that he’s split 14 councils, including Strabane split 3 ways, Banbridge split 4 ways and Lisburn split 5 ways, shows a lack of appreciation of how the commission work in practice. In contrast the boundaries I posted here on Dewi’s previous thread back in February/March split only nine councils, with Belfast, unavoidably, the only one split between more than 2 parliamentary seats.

  • Thanks Andrew, given I was born and reared a stones throw from Taghnevan, that was unforgivable.

  • oracle

    A laughable pile of hobby-horses droppings, did someone actually pay cash for that rambling nonsense.

    I think a brief rumble inside the rectum of a sedated baboon in Belvue Zoo would have achieved a more acceptable review and a more accurate reflection of inter-community relationships and socialisation within Northern Ireland.

    I can only conclude this report was written for Rowntree while the author was trying desperately not to chew a mouthful of pastels….Yup…. Really should’ve chewed

  • Valenciano,

    Gosh, that North+East Belfast seat, split by Belfast Lough, is impressively bad, isn’t it!

    Ulcik, you ask:

    what’s the point in using local authority wards if these are all due to be redrawn as well?

    They’re what we’ve got at present, so they are the building blocks of the new seats.

    Also what, if any, effect should the census results feed into the new boundaries?

    Functionally, there won’t be any impact at all. The constituencies are drawn on electorate, not population (not even over-18 population) and the numbers are drawn from the electoral register not the census.

    There are countries which do emphasise equality of population rather than electorate between electoral units (most notably the USA) but the UK isn’t one of them.

  • Fair Deal

    Don’t give up the day job would seem good advice to the author of this particular work.

  • RyanAdams

    Agreed Fair Deal, Those suggestions are laughable. The idea of putting the rural ward of Drumbo with its small villages of Edenderry, Drumbeg and Purdysburn in a Belfast borough constituency is idiotic to say the least.

  • Fair Deal


    I suppose I should add that the legislation for these boundary changes is so dubious that such abominations are perfectly possible but I’d expect the good sense of the boundary commissioners to overcome its flaws.

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru

    I don’t quite understand the outcry that takes place when a few wards are rejigged and moved out of their so-called ‘Natural environment’

    City are human constuction. Local governments and elections are human institutions. Surely this boils to an argument of soppy nostalgic links versus numerical pragmatism.

    The last boundary review did nothing to deal with the inherent imbalances in the electorates between say East Antrim and North Antrim or North Down and N&A.

    Put another way, if these imbalances had been in any way engineered then we’d be up in arms about gerrymandering, and rightly so. But when it comes to a few crudely placed wards being tagged on the end, it hardly matters.

    I live in the waterside, and to most of my friends on the city side it might as well be another country to them. Especially as many have more links to Donegal than the waterside. Despite me being geographically closer to the city center, most will not even notice that I’m being hived off to East L’derry, such is the lack of interest.

    Maybe I’m alone in tis, but I think the constituencies are now at their fairest ever, and would be pretty welcoming of something resembling this map.

  • RyanAdams

    Fairdeal, on second thoughts though, The rules have generally been upheld when it comes to equalising electorates, but this redraw is major and if it is to be done fairly, then local ties and the rules surrounding them should be out the window. Although that suggestion above is terrible, boundary commissioners are supposed to try and do their best to keep entire DEA’s in the same constituency, thon boy up there has some DEA’s being split between three constituencies.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Think my guess was better! probably confirms one thing, the breach of the Bann will probably be south of Lough Neagh, the rest is a bit strange though. As for DEA’s I contacted the Boundary Commission and they said DEA’s are not a major consideration. With RPA due sure they are all up in air anyways.

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru


    What suggestion exactly is terrible?

    No-one is arguing for a complete disregard of local regional hubs and start spiltting DEAs left, right and center. But its a question of priorities. Retention of local bonds at all costs, or a fairer democracy.

    No one begins to even mention that the same wards used to construct these boundaries, for the last 30-odd years, are hopelessly out of date and do not reflect all the population movements which have occurred in that time.

  • RyanAdams

    Fair dues, DR i haven’t found the motivation yet to produce my own guess, but if it was me I’d probably axe mid ulster and one from Belfast IMO Mid Ulster would be fairly easy as it involves just filleting the current constituency between its neighbours which are plentiful for a start. The East is not so easy as it involves Antrim and Down who both have good reason to hold on to their current seats with some already large enough against the integrety of removing a Belfast seat.

  • the same wards used to construct these boundaries, for the last 30-odd years, are hopelessly out of date

    Last revised in the early 1990s, so only 20 years out of date.

    Though the logic of constructing wards of roughly equal electorate in the first place is a bit questionable when in fact they are only ever used as the building blocks for larger electoral units.

  • Valenciano

    @Drumlins Rock, I don’t think that poorly thought out boundaries on a glorified blog really proves anything other than the fact that the person who drew them is ignorant of political and geographic realities.

    I’ll wager that the breach of the Bann will actually be in the north in County Antrim/Coleraine. The main reason is that the political results of a Lower Bann crossing are more palatable with the DUP and SDLP each losing a seat whereas the Upper Bann crossing option results in the DUP losing one, the SDLP losing two and Sinn Fein gaining a seat. That would be opposed by all the other parties.

    I posted such a 16 seat option back in February on a previous thread, but here it is again…

    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.

    Derry council district.

    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

    MID DOWN 76658
    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

    I’ll submit those as recommendations to the commission when the time comes and like last time, go along to defend them in person. I think they’re logical enough, 2 constituencies unchanged which is part of their rules, Fermanagh and South Tyrone returns to its 1992 boundaries, Foyle to its 2001 boundaries with 4 seats covering Belfast, Castlereagh and Newtownards.

    Yes there’s disruption in the north east, has to happen somewhere but a Coleraine-Ballycastle-Ballymoney seat and Ballymena-Larne seat seem reasonable enough.

  • Valenciano

    It’s completely true that DEAs aren’t really a consideration when they draw them but local council boundaries have generally been factors under the “local ties” rule, so even though these are due to be redrawn or abolished in the next five years, they’ll be factored in and anyone who wants to have a crack at drawing their own shouldn’t split too many councils.

  • RyanAdams

    That actually looks much better in comparison with the one in the article above. Should relieve ‘Bad Al’ of his dual mandate.

  • Dewi

    I’m not even posting the Welsh suggestions….

  • Drumlins Rock

    go on Dewi, are they as strange?

    Nic, talking about population versus electorate, in FST we have the case where the assembly electorate is 1,500 more than the Westminster one, but I checked its the Westminster one that counts.

    Val, just one thing, your new FST is far to close to the upper limit, particularly with the discrepency noted above, ie. there is a strong case to suggest the population will continue to rise, so put Coalisland in with West Tyrone.

  • Fair Deal

    “this redraw is major and if it is to be done fairly, then local ties and the rules surrounding them should be out the window.”

    They is not an automatic contradiction between equalisation and local ties although harder to balance under the legislation. As far as I can see the circle can be squared.

  • Dewi—all-countries-and-regions-v2.pdf

    Wales on page 31 – we have the most radical decrease of all – from 40-30.(No complaints from me – a decrease to 0 is my aim so we are a quarter of the way there…)
    A great constituency called Brecon & Montgomery…or back in the day – Powys..from an ancient kingdom to a Westminster constituency..someone must have angered the Gods…

  • Valenciano

    @DrumlinsRock, the FST above is within the quota and that’s all that’s needed. There’s nothing in the rules that says that they have to take future electoral projections into account and they have never done so in the past. They plan to update the boundaries every five years so will take care of any electoral drifts that way.

    If they do aim for very tight electoral equality then it’s easily solvable by moving Altmore and Donaghmore into Mid Ulster.

    @Dewi, yeah I read that link as well, Northern Ireland isn’t the only place they’ve produced questionable boundary proposals for.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Val, to be honest (this is off the record!) I want Fermanagh South Tyrone to disappear, Fermanagh West Tyrone is much more logical and anywhere east of Ballygawley and south of Dungannon looks towards north Armagh for much of their services. I be in Enniskillen twice a year at most, most people in South Tyrone might make it twice a decade, I be in Portadown and Armagh twice a month normally. Rivers and mountains, counties and parishes are irrelevant to our lives, ROADS rule 🙂