Belfast: Capital’s boundaries stable, but not all agree with them

The home of Belfast City Council
The home of Belfast City Council

Amid substantial changes in council boundaries across Northern Ireland, the capital city’s council boundaries will be the most stable.

Belfast City Council, which is the Province’s largest local authority, will largely stay as it is, although the number of councillors will increase from 51 to 60.

Unlike other councils which will debate where to hold meetings, its headquarters, Belfast City Hall, was never in doubt and rates will stay the same for the vast majority of people in the city.

However, householders in a sliver of Castlereagh which is going into Belfast will see their rates soar and those in areas of Lisburn, such as Twinbrook and Lagmore, which are joining Belfast will also see rates increases.

Politically, the new council is likely to bear a striking resemblance to the old.

For years, Belfast has been a hung council, with Alliance holding the balance of power between roughly equal blocs of unionists and nationalists.

However, the DUP believes that the introduction of qualified majority voting will weaken the power of the Alliance Party to effectively decide the outcome of votes which divide unionists and nationalists.

Lee Reynolds, the DUP’s group leader on the council and one of the party’ strategists, said: “In practice, it means that in terms of the DUP stance there are new tools at our disposal.

“If anyone is planing to be aggressive to unionists or unionism, we have clear political tool to defend ourselves; we will not blink about using them.”

Flags are excluded from the qualified majority voting mechanism, meaning that it is theoretically possible that if unionists turn out in massive numbers and abandon the Alliance Party the Union Flag will be restored to flying permanently from city hall.

“It’s democratically possible to get the Union Flag up on Belfast City Hall,” Cllr Reynolds said.

But although there are stories of angry words on the doorstep with Alliance canvassers over the party’s role in voting to only fly the Union Flag on designated days, the overwhelming likelihood is that the party will still hold the balance of power in Belfast.

Senior Alliance figures are confident that the party will broadly hold its own and attacks on its offices are more likely to bolster the Alliance vote than intimidate the party.

The UUP, which in the last election was humiliated in the capital, can hardly fall much further and, with new candidates who in some cases have a public profile, will be hoping to mount a modest comeback in this poll.

The party is running two intriguing candidates — Jeff Dudgeon, the man whose 1981 European court challenge led to homosexuality being decriminalised in Northern Ireland, and Graham Craig, who was ministerial adviser to Sammy Wilson when the DUP man was Finance Minister.

In the west, Sinn Fein faces a stronger challenge than in previous years, with eirigi’s Padraic Mac Coitir (who performed strongly in 2011) fancied by some to at least come close to taking a seat.

But although the election is going ahead, there is still debate within unionism about the capital city’s boundaries.

Former UUP leader Lord Empey said that the boundaries for Belfast were neither natural nor logical.

He accused the Executive — and in particular, DUP environment ministers — of agreeing to proposals which gave those who drew up the electoral boundaries little room for considering some obvious solutions, such as moving Dundonald and Rathcoole into Belfast

“Local government reform was not conducted on the basis that local identity should be taken into account,” he said, pointing to the “ridiculous situation” whereby “the Twinbrook housing estate in West Belfast, which is two miles from Lisburn City centre is included with Belfast (quite rightly) while the Ballybeen estate, which is 12 miles from Lisburn is not”.

Your candidates:


Paula Jane Bradshaw (Alliance)

Justin Kane Cartwright (SDLP)

Sarah Clarke (DUP)

Gerard Collins (Independent)

Jamie Doyle (Alliance)

Jeffrey Dudgeon (UUP)

Claire Hanna (SDLP)

Elli Kontorravdis (Green Party)

Tina McKenzie (NI21)

Barbara Neeson (NI21)

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir (Sinn Fein)

Simon Rice (PUP)

Christopher Stalford (DUP)

David Julian Timson (NI Cons)


Tim Attwood (SDLP)

Janice Austin (Sinn Fein)

Ciarán Beattie (Sinn Fein)

Gerry Carroll (People Before Profit Alliance)

Arder Carson (Sinn Fein)

Steven Corr (Sinn Fein)

Lauren Gray (Alliance)

Emma Groves (Sinn Fein)

Joanne Lowry (Workers Party)

Pádraic MaC Coitir (Éirígí)

Caoimhín Mac Giollamhín (SF)

Gerard McDonald (SDLP

Chris Valente (NI21)


Claire Bailey (Green party)

Declan Boyle (SDLP)

Eileen Chan-HU (NI21)

Graham Craig (UUP)

Billy Dickson (TUV)

Deirdre Hargey (Sinn Fein)

Paddy Lynn (Workers Party)

Ben Manton (NI Conservatives)

Ben Matthews (NI21)

Pat McCarthy (SDLP)

Emmet McDonough-Brown (All)

Paddy Meehan (Socialist Party)

Duncan Morrow (Alliance)

Ruth Patterson (DUP)

Ewan Suttie (PUP)


David Browne (UUP)

Mary Ellen Campbell (Sinn Fein)

Patrick Convery (SDLP)

Alison Crawford (NI21)

Tierna Cunningham (Sinn Fein)

Fra Hughes (Independent)

Nuala McAllister (Alliance)

William McQuade (PUP)

Cathal Mullaghan (SDLP)

Lydia Patterson (DUP)

Guy James Spence (DUP)

Gemma Weir (Workers Party)


David Bell (Sinn Fein)

Wendy Burke (NI21)

Gerard Alphonsus (Alliance)

Maire Drumm (Éirígí)

Matt Garrett (Sinn Fein)

Bill Groves (Sinn Fein)

Brian Heading (SDLP)

Stephen Magennis (Sinn Fein)

Gareth Thomas Martin (UUP)

Charlene O’Hara (Sinn Fein)

Laura Whinnery (SDLP)


Jolene Bunting (TUV)

Tommy Doherty (Republican Network for Unity)

Willie Faulkner (Independent)

Sheila Mary Gallagher (Alliance)

Stuart Hunter (NI21)

Billy Hutchinson (PUP)

Colin Keenan (SDLP)

Brian Kingston (DUP)

John Lowry (Workers Party)

Bill Manwaring (UUP)

Billy Mawhinney (PUP)

Mary McConville (Sinn Fein)

Frank McCoubrey (DUP)

Jim McVeigh (Sinn Fein)

Naomi Thompson (DUP)

Nichola Verner (DUP)


Aileen Graham (DUP)

Carole Howard (Alliance)

Connal Hughes (Green Party)

Colin Hussey (DUP)

Dermot Kennedy (Sinn Fein)

Michael Long (Alliance)

Leah McDonnell (NI21)

Chris McGimpsey (UUP)

Kate Mullan (SDLP)

Tommy Sandford (DUP)

Helen Smyth (PUP)

Pete Wray (NI21)


Christopher Bailie (Workers Py)

Mary Clarke (Sinn Fein)

Julie-Anne Corr (PUP)

Sammy Cusick (Republican Network for Unity)

Dee Fennell (Independent)

Wayne Gilmour (TUV)

Colin Houston (UUP)

John Loughran (Sinn Fein)

JJ Magee (Sinn Fein)

Nichola Mallon (SDLP)

Gerry McCabe (Sinn Fein)

Gareth Ian McKee (DUP)

Peter McReynolds (Alliance)

Lee Reynolds (DUP)


Ross Brown (Green Party)

Stephen John Crosby (UKIP)

Ian Dickson (NI21)

Tom Haire (DUP)

John Andrew Hiddleston (TUV)

John Colin Hussey (DUP)

Peter Johnston (UUP)

Mervyn Jones (Alliance)

Laura Keenan (Sinn Fein)

Brian Kennedy (DUP)

Michael McMillan (SDLP)

Ross McMullan (Alliance)

Laura McNamee (Alliance)

Jayne Olorunda (NI21)

Ian Reid (NI Conservatives)

Jim Rodgers (UUP)

Ian Shanks (PUP)

Denny Vitty (DUP)

Andrew Webb (Alliance)


David Armitage (Alliance)

Tommy Black (Socialist Party)

Gregor Claus (Green Party)

Sonia Copeland (UUP)

Jimmy Davidson (NI21)

Peter Devlin (SDLP)

Maire Hendron (Alliance)

John Kyle (PUP)

Jonny Lavery (UKIP)

Kevin McNally (Workers)

Adam Newton (DUP)

Niall O’Donnghaile (SF)

Gavin Robinson (DUP)

Harry Toan (TUV)

Sam White (DUP)