Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin claims boundary changes would leave thousands of nationalists without representation

A map issued by the Boundary Commission setting out how its revised proposals differ from existing constituencies
By David Young

MAJOR changes to proposed electoral constituencies will leave thousands of nationalists without representation, Sinn Féin has claimed.

Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Colm Gildernew described a radically redrawn electoral map of the north as "unacceptable" and alleged it favoured the DUP.

Northern Ireland is losing one of its 18 constituencies as part of wider government plans to reduce the number of seats in the UK from 650 to 600.

The Boundary Commission's first proposals, published in 2016, were heavily criticised by the DUP, who claimed it could undermine the political stability of the region.

Analysts suggested it could see Sinn Fein overtake the unionist party as the holder of the largest number of Westminster seats.

However, Sinn Féin claimed a second draft now favours the DUP and at least four constituencies could be left without any nationalist representation at Westminster or assembly level.

The revised proposals, which ditch a plan to cut the number of seats in Belfast from four to three, were published in January and put out for public consultation.

Mr Gildernew criticised the changes as his party prepared to submit a formal submission to the Boundary Commission consultation.

"Nobody could argue that the new plan is fair, given that it so blatantly advantages the DUP at the expense of the nationalist electorate," he said.

"Sinn Féin will be submitting our proposals to the commission which set out a fair and equitable way forward in line with accepted good practice and the commission's own remit.

"We would urge members of the public to also make submissions and demand fairness in the electoral process."

The Boundary Commission has insisted the changes were made impartially and without political interference.

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