Boundary changes set to create nationalist seat in Lagan Valley

PROPOSED changes to the constituency boundaries in Northern Ireland could mean a Nationalist seat is once again up for grabs in Lagan Valley in future assembly elections.

The proposals follow a review by the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland which began in March. It has been brought about by the reduction of Northern Ireland constituencies from 18 to 16 as part of a plan to cut the number of MPs at Westminster from throughout the United Kingdom.

The new boundaries proposed for Lagan Valley would see the Glenavy ward transferred from South Antrim and the Aghagallon ward move from Upper Bann.

Both areas have strong nationalist voting records and if the changes go ahead there is the potential for a nationalist party to once again secure a seat in Lagan Valley at the assembly elections, which use the same boundaries.

The changes are unlikely to have a significant effect on the Westminster election, however, with the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson regularly getting a huge percentage of the poll.

At this year’s Assembly election, Sinn Fein lost its Lagan Valley seat and the DUP increased its holding from three to four seats. If the nationalist vote increases as a result of the proposed new boundaries there is a strong possibility that one of the unionist held seats could be lost at the next Stormont election.

Mr Donaldson said his party was currently looking at the plans.

“The Party is examining the proposals and what impact they will have at both Westminster and Assembly level” he said. 

“We will be playing a full role in the consultation process and considering the impact these boundaries would have on a Province-wide basis. 

“Whilst some Parties oppose reducing the size of the Assembly, the DUP does not. 

“We have consistently said there are too many Departments and too many Assembly members. We made comprehensive proposals in our 2011 manifesto about reducing the number of MLAs per constituency to four or five and reducing the number of Departments to between six and eight.”