Derry to lose Eglinton despite opposition but Magheramason and Bready will stay in Tyrone
Eglinton and Claudy will join East Derry from the Foyle constituency in a proposed shake-up of electoral boundaries though Slievekirk – including Bready and Magheramason, which was supposed to join Derry - will now remain in West Tyrone.
The Boundary Commission is to forge ahead with plans to move Eglinton out of the Derry constituency despite local representations against the proposal.
Last year an initial report recommended moving Eglinton and Claudy to East Derry and the Slievekirk ward, including Magheramason and Bready, to Foyle.
However, revised proposals published on Thursday recommend that the split ward of Slievekirk be aligned within West Tyrone, rather than within Foyle.
Eglinton and Claudy will still be moved to East Derry, as initially proposed, despite the commission having received a number of representations against the transfer.
The new ‘Revised Proposals for the 2023 Parliamentary Constituency Boundary Review’ report acknowledges there was opposition to Eglinton’s removal from Derry.
"Commissioners were grateful for the views and insights submitted in representations relating to this constituency, including those which more fully informed their understanding of the factors of local ties and inconvenience.
"They noted some commonality of responses regarding the transfer of the ward of Eglinton from Foyle constituency to East Londonderry constituency,” the report states.
However, the Commissioners decided to go ahead with the transfer to balance population numbers in the East Derry and Foyle constituencies.
"Commissioners noted the complex interdependencies and knock-on effects of delineation, in which no constituency can be addressed in isolation.
"That being so, the Commission determined that the transfer of the ward of Eglinton from Foyle constituency to East Londonderry presented the most satisfactory resolution of the totality of issues arising in each constituency,” the authors stated.
Enagh Youth Forum, the Strathfoyle-based community group, were among those opposed to the move.
They stated: “We believe Eglinton should remain within the Foyle constituency. Eglinton is very much part of the rural Faughan District Electoral Area (DC&SDC Area) within Foyle.
"A lot of work has gone into linking rural areas of Foyle into the relatively new community planning process. To remove Eglinton from Foyle will have wider implications in terms of rural sustainable community development. Keep Eglinton in Foyle.”
Both the SDLP and the Alliance Party were also against the proposal.
In its submission the SDLP said it ‘believes that the Eglinton ward should not be transferred from Foyle given its strong affiliation with Derry through labour market, housing market and travel to work areas’.
The party added: “The ward also forms part of the Faughan DEA within the boundary of DC&SDC. Removing the Eglinton ward would visit substantial inconvenience on local communities.”
The Alliance Party agreed that Eglinton should stay in Foyle.
In a submission it stated: “The ward of Eglinton should remain in the Foyle constituency. On a community level, Eglinton has far more connections with the city of Derry ~ Londonderry rather than communities in Coleraine and Limavady.
"Moving Eglinton ward to East Londonderry could have an adverse effect on the village’s community and political representation.
“If Eglinton (2834 electors) is moved to the Foyle Constituency, then Foyle will meet legislation requirements (75308 electors). The ward of Swatragh (2475) can then be transferred from Mid-Ulster to East Londonderry giving them totals of 71358 and 71854 respectively, also fulfilling the requirements of the legislation.”
The DUP said it was content with the proposals.
The UUP, in its response to the Commission’s original proposals to move Eglinton and Claudy to East Derry and Slievekirk into Foyle, approved the former but objected to the latter.
It proposed: “Slievekirk would remain in West Tyrone and not transfer to Foyle leaving West Tyrone on 66,339 and below the quota.
“The ward of Eglinton (2,834) could be transferred from Foyle to East Londonderry bringing it up to 72,193, whilst Foyle would be 71,597, both within the agreed range.
“If necessary, the ward of Park (2,576) could be transferred from East Londonderry to West Tyrone bringing West Tyrone up to 68,915, still slightly under the quota (809) and leaving East Londonderry on 69,617, again slightly still under quota (107).”
An individual objector to the proposal wrote: “The new boundary in the Eglinton area divides that village, with the majority being lost to the proposed new East Londonderry boundary.
"Health and educational boundaries have not been well considered in this proposal, nor has the proposed road development between Drumahoe and Maydown.”
Another stated: “I believe Eglinton is an integral part of Foyle and should remain as part of Foyle. I would suggest that Eglinton remain within Foyle.
"My proposal would be for the commission to consider moving Swatragh from Mid-Ulster into East Derry. This would ensure all three areas Foyle, Mid-Ulster and East Derry are within the electoral number range.”
In line with the legislation, a third consultation stage on the proposed change had been launched and will close on December 15, 2022.
Deputy Chairman of the Commission Mr. Justice Michael Humphreys said: “Following two previous periods of consultation, the Commission has considered the representations made to it, and revised its initial proposals.
"The Commission is grateful to all those who made representations during the initial and secondary consultation periods. We encourage everyone with an interest to consider the revised proposals and share their views, whether to support the proposals, or to suggest alternatives which also take into account the requirements of the legislation.”
Written representations must be received by the Commission by December 15, 2022 and can be submitted using the online portal, by email, or by post.
These representations will be published online after the end of the third consultation stage. The Commission must submit its final recommendations to the Speaker of the House of Commons by July 1, 2023.
The Revised Proposals, accompanying resources and more details about the 2023 Boundary Review process are available on the Commission’s website at www.boundarycommission.org.uk/2023-review-parliamentary-constituencies.