New consultation opens on controversial ‘West Antrim’ constituency proposal

Thursday, 21 September 2017

A NEW consultation has opened on the proposed parliamentary constituencies for Northern Ireland which, if implemented, would see North Antrim disappear from the political map.
Local unionist politicians reacted with fury when the initial proposals were published and made their views clear at a public hearing in the Tullyglass House Hotel last October.
Last week the Boundary Commission published the responses received, including the full transcript of the Tullyglass hearing, which can be viewed on
The four week secondary consultation period ends on October 2 2017, during which time views are invited on the representations received on the Commission's Provisional Proposals.
The plan is to reduce the number of Northern Ireland seats from 18 to 17 as part of a UK wide proposal toy cut the number of MPs at Westminster to 600.
Eight individuals made representations to the hearing at the Tullyglass.
Some of the most trenchant criticism came from North Antrim MP, Ian Paisley, who said North Antrim had been ripped apart by the proposals.
“Here in this constituency, Ballymena will be cut off from Cullybackey and Cullybackey will be cut off from Ballymena, depending what your perspective is in which village.
“To think of Ballymena not having Cullybackey as part of it and Cullybackey being a different constituency from the town of Ballymena is crazy and chaotic and I think that the constituents and the people living in that area would feel very, very and do feel very, very annoyed and concerned that that's the way they've been treated."
He added: "The dismemberment of many parts of the town of Ballymena and the cutting off, I just believe, is very, very hard for people to even understand let alone grasp what was in the mind of the Commission."
Turning to the proposed new name, Mr Paisley said: "I would also say that West Antrim is an area I have never heard of.
“When I looked at the map, West Antrim was Lough Neagh which I might take the view that these proposals should be at the bottom of Lough Neagh.
“I do honestly believe that the original names for this part of the county - Mid Antrim or Bannside - are much more appropriate in terms of names that are more akin to the local community's feelings.
“But once again, it would be very hard to live in a constituency which was called Bannside and didn't have one of the main Bannside towns; namely Cullybackey, within that constituency."
*Full story in this week's Ballymena Guardian.


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