Boundary changes ‘detrimental to unionism’ – DUP

Proposed changes to Northern Ireland’s electoral constituencies will have a “detrimental effect” on unionist representation, the DUP has said.

Nigel Dodds from the party hit out over plans which were published earlier this week by the Boundary Commission.

If enacted they would see the number of MPs reduced from 18 to 17 and see Belfast’s four constituencies reduced to three.

Mr Dodds said the changes represent the biggest change to boundaries since the 1983 election.

The MP added that they will “drastically affect voters and change the political make-up in Northern Ireland significantly”.

He argued the commission has “simply done away with a constituency in Belfast” and added that “a machete has also been taken to four other constituencies to create six new constituencies”.

Mr Dodds went on: “Of course this will be a very long process and previous boundary changes have shown that.

“We are now in the middle of a consultation process and it is important everyone has an opportunity to respond.

“It is of vital important that people make their responses to the Boundary Commission and that they attend public hearings in their areas.”

Speaking on Tuesday, when the changes were first unveiled, Sinn Féin also raised concerns about the new boundaries.

Alex Maskey MLA said: “Clearly this is a substantial piece of work proposing significant changes and will require a detailed response.

“There are further concerns regarding what impact a Westminster-led Boundary Commission will have on Assembly representation with a possibility of a reduction of constituencies to 16 or less.

“It is my view that we need to transfer powers on elections to the Assembly and local government into the hands of locally elected and accountable representatives and establish a boundary commission to deal exclusively with the Assembly constituencies - as Scotland has already done.”