Northern Ireland

Sinn Féin proposals to abolish South Belfast constituency 'do not make sense', Claire Hanna says

SDLP MP Claire Hanna. Picture by Cliff Donaldson
SDLP MP Claire Hanna. Picture by Cliff Donaldson SDLP MP Claire Hanna. Picture by Cliff Donaldson

SDLP MP Claire Hanna has said Sinn Féin proposals to abolish her South Belfast constituency do not make sense.

Sinn Féin has proposed to the Boundary Commission that the constituency is axed and its voters divided between East and West Belfast - even though South Belfast has more voters.

Belfast's four constituencies would be reduced to three under the plans.

Ms Hanna said the proposal "does not make any mathematical sense".

She said South Belfast - the only constituency to return MLAs from five different parties - is the most politically diverse in Northern Ireland.

"South Belfast has for decades been known as a diverse, integrated part of the city where people of all political views and none live side-by-side," she said.

"Many people chose to settle in South Belfast precisely because of that. This constituency is, and always has been, a shared space.

"It is pluralist in its politics and values, and I think residents would be very disconcerted and concerned at a proposal to break it up and to parcel bits off into other constituencies."

Under the 2023 Boundary Commission review, each constituency must have an electorate of between 69,724 and 77,062.

North Belfast (72,332) and South Belfast (70,134) fall within the target range but West Belfast (65,761) and East Belfast (66,273) do not.

In its submission to the Boundary Commission, Sinn Féin said it believed "that too much emphasis is placed in trying to keep Belfast as four-seater constituency which comes at the detriment to the rest of the constituencies".

Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy told BBC Good Morning Ulster yesterday that the proposal aimed to protect rural voters.

"It’s not about any single constituency, if an MP or any political party approaches this on the basis of what constituency they currently hold, they’re not looking at the bigger picture," he said.