The 2004 Boundary Commission:

Provisional recommendations

 New Map (18)

The Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland published its first round of proposed changes to the 18 parliamentary constituency boundaries on 29 April 2004. These will be subjected to feedback and public enquiries - and each public enquiry will generate its own report; the Commission will then consider the whole thing again and produce revised recommendations, probably at the start of 2005, and the final recommendations will probably be given legal force too late to have effect for a 2005 Westminster election (though probably in time if the election is left to 2006).

On the left, a map of the new constituencies by Conal Kelly, with the deviations from the electoral quota of 60,696. There has been much discussion of the changes on Slugger O'Toole, based on analysis by the Young Fogey. Below I present (in red) the Boundary Commission's own description of the changes and (in black) my immediate reaction.

The Boundary Commission is seeking feedback from the public, and I will propose to them the schema I put forward last year as my own speculation as to what they might conclude. A summary is given at the end.

Boundary Commission's Provisional Recommendations

What I might put in my submission to the Boundary Commission (first thoughts)

Basically I think I will propose to the Commission the suggestions that I made last year.

On Belfast: While accepting the logic of the decision to stick to four constituencies, I still think that moving the entire Shankill into West Belfast makes more sense. South Belfast can then take in the Dunmurry wards rather than Carryduff, and North Belfast extend further into Glengormley.

On County Antrim: I think the scheme I proposed last year
remains sensible: shift most of Glengormley into North Belfast, shift the boundary between North and South Antrim a few miles north, and leave poor abused East Antrim unchanged.

On County Down: Mild extension of Strangford to take in the obvious South Down wards, but otherwise leave unchanged. There will be a few large constituencies (Armagh, Upper Bann) but compared to the variations in England and Scotland it's pretty small stuff.

On the West: Don't bother even with the shift of two rural wards from Foyle to East Londonderry. The area looks towards Derry City anyway.

But I will finalise this in late May / early June.

But what do you think?

See also: Jim Riley's analysis of votes and seats in the 1998 Assembly election | Gerrymandering | The constituencies | The political parties | The NI Executive | Useful books and links

Results from 1996 to 2001 for each seat: East Belfast | North Belfast | South Belfast | West Belfast | East Antrim | North Antrim | South Antrim | North Down | South Down | Fermanagh and South Tyrone | Foyle | Lagan Valley | East Londonderry | Mid Ulster | Newry and Armagh | Strangford | West Tyrone | Upper Bann

Surveys of each recent election: 2004 European | 2003 Assembly | 2001 Westminster | 2001 local govt | 2000 S Antrim | 1999 European | 1998 Assembly | 1997 local govt | 1997 Westminster | 1996 Forum | 1995 N Down | 1994 European | 1993 local govt | 1992 Westminster | 1989 European | 1989 local govt | 1987 Westminster | 1986 by-elections | 1985 local govt | 1984 European | 1983 Westminster | 1982 Assembly | 1981 local govt | 1979 European | 1979 Westminster | 1977 local govt | 1975 Convention | Oct 1974 Westminster | Feb 1974 Westminster | 1973 Assembly | 1973 local govt | Summary of all Northern Ireland elections since 1973 | Brief summary of election results 1997-2003

Historical pieces:Westminster elections 1885-1910 | The 1918 election | Dáil elections since 1918 | Westminster elections since 1920 | Senate of Southern Ireland 1921 | Irish Senate elections in 1925 | Northern Ireland House of Commons | Northern Ireland Senate | The 1973 and 1975 referendums

Other sites based at ARK: ORBiikkkuoiuokiuk (Online Research Bank) | CAIN (Conflict Archive on the INternet) | Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey

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Nicholas Whyte, 12 May 2004

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