Process to potentially redraw Westminster boundaries will begin..again

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2015 will mark the commencement of the next review of the parliamentary constituencies in Northern Ireland, including Foyle and East Londonderry.

Readers will recall that the sixth review of the constituencies returning MPs to Westminster was recently cancelled and put back by five years.

Local political parties had provided some interesting suggestions and feedback on the provisional recommendations made by the Boundary Commission on that most recent review.

The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) wanted to abandon Eglinton to a proposed new ‘Glenshane constituency’ in order to allow Macosquin’s inclusion in an electoral area comprising Coleraine and North Antrim.

The UUP were willing to detach the Eglinton ward and its 2,955 electors from the Londonderry polity to which it traditionally gravitates.

The party felt it was worth sacrificing Eglinton to a new constituency stretching from Greysteel to Cookstown in order to maintain Macosquin’s link with Coleraine.

However, the Boundary Commission rejected the UUP proposal and opted to keep Eglinton in a new Foyle County Constituency and keep Macosquin in the new Glenshane constituency.

The Commission also rejected calls from the DUP, SDLP, the Alliance Party and a number of individual respondents to return Claudy and Banagher to a Londonderry-centred constituency due to the villages’ close links with the city.

Close to 5,000 electors in Claudy and Banagher, will instead in future, be represented by the same MP that represents Moneymore and The Loup.

The villages were only recently transferred from Foyle to East Londonderry. But the Commission was going to “retain” them in a new Glenshane area.

But that’s all been consigned to the dustbin of history for the time being.

The recent amendment to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill 2013 effectively terminated the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland’s most recent review.

The date by which the Commission is required to report its recommendations for revised Parliamentary constituency boundaries has been changed to “not before September 1, 2018 and before October 1, 2018.”

But under the proposed legislation the review will be based on the demographic make-up of Foyle and East Londonderry next year.

From the register as it stands on December 1 in fact.

This will ensure that the Commission will have its full complement of members well in advance of when preparations need to commence for the next review of parliamentary constituencies in Northern Ireland, which is likely to be around late 2015.