Slaghtmanus and Ness Woods to join West Tyrone under boundary proposals

editorial image

Slaghtmanus, the moors above Eglinton, and the Ness Woods, are all to be swallowed by West Tyrone under a series of Boundary Commission proposals, which are out for consultation until Monday, March 26.

The Claudy and Banagher electoral wards will be moved from the East Derry Parliamentary and Assembly constituency, which is due to be axed, into an expanded West Tyrone, if a radical overhaul of the political map in the North gets the green light.

Up until 2010 electors from Slaghtmanus to Park, when voting in General or Assembly elections, had returned MPs and MLAs to the Foyle constituency, which many would have consider their natural political home.

But in 2010 both wards were transferred to East Derry. Now, as part of fresh changes proposed by the Boundary Commission, aimed at reducing the number of constituencies in the North from 18 to 17, Claudy and Park are on the move again.

Bizarrely, because the Foyle constituency is already too populous, a large tract of East Derry, including the southern Eglinton uplands, is set to join West Tyrone.

Paul Fleming, a Sinn Féin councillor for the Faughan District Electoral Area (DEA), which incorporates the Claudy ward, has questioned the Boundary Commission’s proposals generally.

Two years ago in its provisional proposals the commission had suggested that Claudy and Park could form part of a new Glenshane constituency stretching from Lough Foyle to Louhg Neagh.

But that’s now been scrapped throwing up some strange anomalies including one half of Dungiven’s main street being in West Tyrone and the other half in Mid Ulster.

Colr. Fleming said the “radically redrawn report from the Boundary Commission would lead to significant inequalities and closely resembles proposals tabled by the DUP”.

He added: “The Boundary Commission proposals mark a significant shift from the 2016 proposals and confirm our worst fears about the new boundaries. The Commission has moved away from its own rationale about ‘retaining closer alignment to existing boundaries’ with four constituencies disappearing altogether.”

He concluded: “Given the history of discrimination and gerrymandering of the northern political system we have to ensure that any boundaries accurately reflect the electorate.”

The propsoals are out for consultation: visit www.bcni2018.uk or email review@boundarycommission.org.uk