New Boundary Commission proposals for Dungiven effectively cut the town in half – leaving the north of the town in a new Mid-Ulster constituency and the south of the town in West Tyrone.
The plans have been met with disbelief by politicians in Dungiven, with one councillor
branding them “ridiculous”.
The revised proposals for new Westminster constituencies in Northern Ireland in January and a public consultation closes on Monday, March 26.
The new map shows that a line has been drawn through the centre of Dungiven and the town split in half between a number of constituencies.
For example, the town’s Church of Ireland Church is located in Mid-Ulster while St Patrick’s Catholic Church, on the other side of the road, is now part of West Tyrone. Other buildings which are just yards apart fall into different constituencies under the proposals.
The Sinn Fein Councillor for the area, Sean McGlinchey, says his party is considering all of the Boundary Commission’s proposals but acknowledges that Dungiven is, possibly, the most extreme case in the North.
Colr. McGlinchey said: “The Boundary Commission proposals mark a significant shift from the 2016 proposals and confirm our worst fears about the new boundaries. It is clear the Boundary Commission has moved away from its own rationale about ‘retaining closer alignment to existing boundaries’ when you look at the carve up of Dungiven town. Dungiven has already suffered inequalities due to regional imbalances but to be left in no man’s land between three constituencies will only serve to further these.”
Councillor Sean McGlinchey urged people to respond to the public consultation over the weekend if they have not already done so.
He said: “I would also encourage all community and sporting organisations, schools, businesses and individuals to make submissions to the consultation.
“Given the history of discrimination and gerrymandering of the northern political system we have to ensure that any boundaries accurately reflect the electorate and a town in the heart of County Derry being split in three falls short of this.”
The Boundary Commission has stressed its impartiality over the proposed changes.
“The structure of the Commission and its remit is strictly prescribed by statute. This provides safeguards to ensure that the process of redistricting is protected from political influence or interference,” said a spokesperson.