Boundary Review: Belfast SE, North Down and Strangford…

Okay, bit of a hiatus there, but now back at it… Ward data here… Demographics here… And this is the more general picture with old and new boundaries… These three have been chosen because they’re contiguous… they will have some political implications, but the kind of detail we’re looking for is the kind of ticks or mistakes that stand some chance of changing…

One party losing too many seats is not a relevant concern here…

Belfast South East

The transfer of 7 wards from Belfast South to the proposed new constituency of Belfast SouthWestreduces the electorate of Belfast South to 39,019. The addition of the electorate of Belfast East at the review date (60,050) would give a combined electorate of 99,069 which is 22,428 above the
quota. On this basis, the Commission proposes a new constituency of Belfast South East, combining Belfast South (remainder) and Belfast East but transferring a number of wards to the adjacent Strangford constituency in order to come within 5% of the quota. The wards proposed for transfer from Belfast South to Strangford are Cairnshill, Knockbracken, Carryduff East, Carryduff West, Minnowburn and Beechill. From Belfast East, the wards proposed for transfer are Upper Braniel, Ballyhanwood, Enler, Graham’s Bridge, Dundonald, and Carrowreagh. The proposed new Belfast South East constituency would have an electorate of 72,903, which is 4.9% below the quota.

North Down

At the review date the electorate of the North Down constituency was 61,615. The proposed
transfer of the 5 Ards Peninsula wards of Carrowdore, Ballywalter, Portavogie, Kircubbin and
Portaferry from Strangford constituency brings the electorate to 74,288, which is 3.1% below the


At the review date the electorate of the Strangford constituency was 61,566. The proposed transfer of 6 wards from Belfast South and 6 wards from Belfast East would give an electorate of 87,732, which is over 11,000 above the quota. To compensate, the Commission proposes that the wards of Carrowdore, Ballywalter, Portavogie, Kircubbin and Portaferry should transfer to North Down. The proposed Strangford constituency would have an electorate of 75,059, which is 2.1% below the quota.

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  • So which are the wards moving from Belfast South to Belfast SE?

    Which council DEAs will be in future be split between different parliamentary constituencies, as Pottinger is now?

  • dwatch

    “So which are the wards moving from Belfast South to Belfast SE?”

    Woodstock, Downshire, Cregagh, Hillfoot, Wynchurch, Ravenhill, Botanic, Ballynafeigh, Rossetta, Newtownbreda, Galwally, and Strandmillis.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Firstly, scrap the South East nonsense and just call it East Belfast, all of it is East of the City Centre, half of it is actually North of the city hall.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Oh and one petty little thing, I think the boundaries should be extended to meet in the centre of City hall dome, so that the city centre belongs to all areas of the city, would not involve big number which could be tidied up elsewhere.

  • RyanAdams

    I personally disagree with the whole way this boundary weaves through Castlereagh. Better to have included more of Castlereagh in the Belfast seats, and let Newtownabbey go back in to the Antrim seats. Theres a visable boundary there in the form of the M2, and the reality is communties on either side of the A55 Knock Dual carriageway are closer linked than those either side of the motorway.

  • SDLP will lose a seat as a result of this, but if Naomi enjoys a good length of parliament, my guess is that she will retain her seat due to tactical voting.

    Remember that her power base is in working class East Belfast, and factor in voters who supported Alistair McDonnell in 2010 but realise that he won’t have enough support to stay in Westminster, but they can keep the DUP out.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Ryan, problem is Strangford & North Down need the numbers from Castlereagh, they can’t get them elsewhere without having a major knockon to existing constituencies.

  • Valenciano

    Quite a few things here.

    Firstly since the focus of Strangford is no longer the Lough, the name should be changed to Mid Down.

    Secondly splitting Braniel is just bizarre. Kepp them both in one seat.

    Thirdly (with due credit to Nicholas Whyte who suggested it) there’s a case for splitting Loughries ward. Currently it makes an odd salient into North Down and it might be better just to put the rural bits into North Down and the urban bits where 90% of the electorate live stay in Mid Down/Strangford.

    Overall I’d go for a totall different solution anyway. Belfast divides neatly into four quadrants and Belfast people speak of North, South, East and West Belfast, so what’s with this South East Belfast rubbish? Does anyone who lives in Stormont, Belmont or Botanic really say that they live in South East Belfast? I’d keep the quadrants largely intact and base constituencies on them.

    The 5 Ballyclare wards would go to East Antrim and the rest of urban Newtownabbey now in South Antrim would go to North Belfast instead. Those areas by and large look to Belfast, not to Antrim.

    West stays as a constituency and gains Crumlin, Woodvale, Finaghy and Musgrave as well as the rest if Derriaghy.

    The rest of Belfast city would form a “South and East Belfast” seat, probably together with Cregagh, Downshire, Wynchurch and Lisnasharragh.

    All that makes for seats of West Belfast and South&East Belfast, much more identifiable for residents than any artifical SE/SW Belfast seats.

    Carryduff would go back to Lagan Valley, where it was from 1983-1996 and the rest of Castlereagh and Ards would form a Mid Down seat along with Saintfield, Derryboy and Killyleagh.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Val, North, West and South&East is three not 4 seats, all you have done is moved the boundary proposal to the North a bit. All of N’abbey would be way too much for North, not sure how the rest would work, but agree with the double names rubbish, call them North, West & East.

  • Valenciano

    Yes I’ve moved it to the north because that makes more sense, that way you basically keep each quarter of Belfast together. West recognisably survives and respecting existing ties is one of the rules they have to work under. South also stays intact and basically gets merged with East, a better solution than having a boundary weaving arbitrarily through the south.

    Also, I haven’t said all of Newtownabbey, I’ve said most of urban Newtownabbey. Add Hawthorne, Ballyduff, Carnmoney, Mossley, Burnthill and Mallusk to North Belfast. Those are all North Belfast suburbs and their residents are most likely to work in Belfast, not Antrim Town. Mallusk does have rural bits but so does Legoneil and Mallusk also has a lot of industrial estates which provide work for North Belfast residents.

    As for going with the Boundary Commission’s proposals and calling them north, west and east, they tried that in 1995 and it was thrown out at a local enquiry.

  • Mike the First

    “Secondly splitting Braniel is just bizarre. Kepp them both in one seat.”

    And ditto for Four Winds.

    Newton Park isn’t the boundary of anything – it’s the artery of Four Winds, and moving Cairnshill into Strangford defies logic.

  • North Down was inevitably going to get the Ards peninsula. Once that happens, shifting Dundonald back into Strangford becomes the obvious next step.

    After that, the boundaries are pretty much determined by what happens elsewhere in Belfast. As Valenciano indicates, extending North Belfast outwards rather than inwards would create correspondingly more room for Strangford to creep closer to the City Council boundary and lose Killyleagh / Ballynahinch / Carryduff / all three to South Down and Lagan Valley..

    In my own submission I proposed that Killyleagh probably belongs in South Down, and can be shifted without stretching the numbers too much. Ballynahinch equally belongs in South Down rather than Strangford but unfortunately is too big to move given the numerical constraints, I think. (Unless you follow Valenciano’s recipe.)

    One other Belfast issue which has been raised with me in correspondence – should Stranmillis and Shaftesbury be swapped, so that the new South East Belfast contains the city centre and university, apart from which its border would be the Lagan? I don’t have strong feelings but would be interested to hear others’ views.

    Splitting wards – the Commission’s obligations to maintain ward boundaries are really very weak; the legislation only says that they ‘may take [ward boundaries] into account, if and to such extent as they think fit’. From the map, Loughries jumps out as a case where the proposals are awkward – adding the Ards Peninsula to North Down is inevitable, but the boundaries of the Loughries ward stretch halfway across the shoulder of the peninsula. My suggestion was to trim the rural bit (where the only population centres, if they can be called that, are Six Road Ends and Loughries village itself) into North Down so that the constituency boundary is closer to the edge of Newtownards.

    I’m sympathetic also to the Upper Braniel case, and maybe this is another example of a ward that could be split, making the Upper and Middle Braniel Roads the boundary between SE Belfast and Strangford. I don’t know quite where you would stop trimming like that, though; also include the houses in Ballyhanwood ward around Gortland Park / Charters Avenue / Gilnahirk church? And how many voters are we talking about in either case?

    (Fans of extending Belfast radially sometimes look eagerly at Holywood coming into East Belfast, as was proposed but rejected in 1995, but I haven’t heard anyone say that this time.)

  • FuturePhysicist

    Well you could look at the SDLP in South west two ways, one as the loss in the South, two as gaining in the west.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Agree that urban Newtownabbey should really be seen as a continuation of North Belfast, there is no natural divide.

    Mallusk though, not so sure – the North Belfast tag starts to feel pretty odd past the Sandy Knowles roundabout.

  • Valenciano

    Mallusk ward has an electorate of 5105 and that makes it the second largest ward in the whole of Northern Ireland out of nearly 600 wards. Its electorate in the mid 1990s was 2000. Why has it grown? Well not because farmers been havin babies but because people have moved there, mostly from North Belfast.

    I agree with you about North Belfast past the Sandyknowes roundabout but you need to remember that 90% of Mallusk’s voters live in urban Newtownabbey and the number of voters past the roundabout in Mallusk ward isn’t more than a few hundred. The majority live in Hyde Park and the areas west of the Hightown Road (which is the ward boundary.) Sticking those urban ex North Belfast voters in South Antrim isn’t the best solution.

    Incidentally I notice from the boundary commission site that public hearings are to take place next week in Belfast on Monday in the Ramada hotel and then in the Silverbirch Hotel on the 19th October and on the 24th in the Tullyglass Hotel in Ballymena. I’m a bit surprised and disappointed that the commission has scheduled the hearings so soon when the timeline for written representations hasn’t yet expired.

  • RyanAdams

    My plan for these three seats does not differ greatly from the commissions. North Down is identicle. However, the way the South East Belfast boundary weaves through Castlereagh pisses one off. I have kept the whole of Castlereagh together in a Castlereagh and Mid Down seat, which also contains Newtownards (bar loughries) and Ards West, with my South East Belfast containing everything within the current South and East boundaries and also in the city council boundary. West Belfast gets the rest of Court, Ballysillan, Ligoniel and Cliftonville, forming Belfast North West. I think its far more logical as these areas have much more in common with West Belfast than any part of Balmoral.