Northern Ireland news

North's 18 electoral constituencies set to get biggest shake-up for decades

A map of Northern Ireland's proposed new constituencies

STORMONT'S parties have said they will study proposals that aim to make significant changes to the boundaries of the north's 18 electoral constituencies.

In what is thought to be the biggest shake-up for decades, two constituencies will be redrawn and renamed, while others will lose and gain entire wards.

It is proposed that a new constituency of South Belfast and Mid Down will encompass swathes of what is currently Strangford, while the latter's boundaries will be extended to include Downpatrick, under the name Strangford and Quoile.

Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Mid Ulster and Lagan Valley are also set to undergo major modifications, which are designed to reflect changing population patterns and give greater balance the number of voters in each constituency.

The recommendations were set out yesterday by the regional Boundary Commission.

Analysis: Boundary changes are necessary but that won't stop people complaining

It is the first major boundary change since 2008 and mirrors a review underway in Britain.

Plans unveiled in 2018 that would have seen the number of constituencies in the north reduced to 17, as part of a wider move to reduce MPs at Westminster from 650 to 600, were abandoned last year.

The fresh proposals will be subject to an initial eight-week public consultation that will enable the public and political parties to share their views.

Further consultations and public hearings are expected before the final recommendations are presented in 2023.

Boundary Commission deputy chairman Mr Justice Michael Humphreys encouraged the public to submit their views.

"I am pleased to announce the publication of the commission's initial proposals, and the beginning of the first period of public consultation of the 2023 review," he said.

"The commission is keen to encourage everyone with an interest to share their views by engaging with the consultation process, whether it is to support the proposals, or to suggest alternatives which also take into account the requirements of the legislation."

More information is available at www.boundarycommission.org.uk.

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