A DERRY based councillor has said people in Claudy, Park and Feeny will balk at the idea of being redrawn inside a new larger West Tyrone constituency.
Ulster Unionist councillor Mary Hamilton, who spent more than 20 years living in Claudy, was reacting to the publication of the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland’s revised proposals for the North’s electoral constituencies.
The proposals are part of plans to reduce the number of overall MPs at Westminster from 650 to 600, including reducing the number of MPs in the North from 18 to 17.
The new boundaries show a major rethink from the Boundary Commission’s original 2016 proposal for a new ‘North Tyrone’ constituency comprising Strabane, Omagh and Cookstown.
West Tyrone is largely retained, with the addition of three Co Derry wards: Claudy, Park and Feeny moving from Gregory Campbell’s East Derry constituency, which would be binned.
Only a small section of the existing West Tyrone constituency has been transferred, with the area around Bready moving to Foyle.
The change would bring the West Tyrone boundary to the outskirts of Derry City and just over one mile from Eglinton at its most northern point. It would also stretch partially into the village of Dungiven, which would become the meeting point of the new larger Mid Ulster and the new Causeway constituency.
While the revised map was inadvertently leaked two weeks ago, the full detail was finally published by the BCNI.
According to UUP councillor Mary Hamilton, people in Claudy are still getting used to the new council boundaries.
She said locals there would struggle to identify with places like Omagh and Dromore.
“I don’t think anyone there will be pleased with this. They wouldn’t be voting for a local person. It’s hard enough getting people out to vote without this.
“The older people in particular have their allegiance to their own area, they wouldn’t be up for this at all,” she said.
“People in Claudy were just kind of getting used to the changes to the council districts.
“For me, I don’t approve of it. It’s just a pure waste of money. They should leave things as they are.”
The DUP, who were strongly opposed to the 2016 proposals, largely due to the expected loss of seats, said on Tuesday that the party would study the new maps in detail before drafting a response.
However Sinn Féin has suggested that the redrawn boundaries will lead to inequalities, claiming they closely resemble proposals previously tabled by the DUP.
The party has said that when Assembly boundaries are realigned, four constituencies could be left without nationalist representation.
Sinn Féin added that the new leadership of Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill will raise their concerns directly with Prime Minister Theresa May.
An eight week consultation period on the new boundaries has now opened. Feedback can be provided on bcni2018.co.uk up until March 26 2018.