‘Dungannon was never served well by the Boundary Commission’ - local councillor

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Independent Councillor for Dungannon, Barry Monteith, has hit out at the ‘nonsensical’ way the town has been carved up in the new Boundary Commission plans.

Released this week, the plans would see a line drawn through the town and those living in different parts represented by different MPs.

“This doesn’t make a whole pile of sense,” Mr Monteith told the Times.

“Dungannon was never served well by the Boundary Commission. As far as I am concerned this has to make sense on the ground.”

And the plans he said have the potential to make the town worse off as it will be split across North Tyrone and Fermanagh & South Tyrone - while nearby Coalisland will come under Bann and Blackwater and Cookstown under North Tyrone.

Criticised by unionist and nationalist politicians alike, the proposals - which are just that - would also do away with the current Westminster constituency of Mid Ulster, and leave the new Mid Ulster Council district split across four new constituencies, instead of the current two.

They would be named: Glenshane, North Tyrone, Bann and Blackwater and Fermanagh & South Tyrone.

Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone has also questioned the move, just two years after the implementation of the review of public administration (RPA) that saw the number of NI councils reduced to 11.

While a lot of thought and research went into which former districts to link, he said it appears the same has not been done here.

“It’s as if someone took a blank sheet of paper and a pencil, closed their eyes and said ‘whatever’,” he explained.

“The whole review of public administration was rightly to embrace what was called ‘coterminocity’ of boundaries, in other words all boundaries and all service deliveries should be more or less within the same constituencies to make sure that they’re all compatible so that you weren’t having people living one area going in two or three different directions.”

And he is not alone in his thinking.

UUP MLA Sandra Overend said while she is aware the map is currently just a proposal, she too was “disappointed” with an outline that would see Mid Ulster “cut into pieces and divided out”.

“There was an expectation that most constituencies with their existing geographical or historical linkage would be kept together,” she said. “These proposals have the potential to create much more confusion than they solve.”

A spokesperson for Mid Ulster Council added: “The proposals, if agreed, will mean significant changes to the number of Westminster constituencies which represent the Mid Ulster area.

“The council will consider the issues and respond with its view in due course.”