Lady Hermon: I won’t lose any sleep over constituency plan

Lady Hermon has been MP for North Down since 2001
Lady Hermon has been MP for North Down since 2001

Northern Ireland’s only independent MP has said she is not worried by planned changes to the Province’s political boundaries, even though they would see her seat radically redrawn.

Lady Sylvia Hermon, an ex-UUP member who has represented North Down since 2001, was reacting to the official release this week of the Boundary Commission’s latest draft of what the Province’s political map may look like, as part of a UK-wide shake-up of seats.

The new draft map. The coloured bits show the current constituencies, and the lines show the new proposed ones

The new draft map. The coloured bits show the current constituencies, and the lines show the new proposed ones

The plans had been accidentally released earlier in the month, ahead of their official publication date on Monday.

Under the plans North Down would keep its name, but it would be expanded beyond its current territory to include essentially all of the Ards peninsula (which is currently part of the DUP-dominated Strangford seat).

She said: “I have to say I won’t be losing any sleep over these latest proposals for a re-defined North Down constituency.” In the last 17 years she has seen “propos als come and then go nowhere”, adding that “judging by the conversations I’ve had with others in the House of Commons over recent days, there appears to be little appetite for accepting the proposed boundary changes across the UK”.

Green Party leader Steven Agnew, who holds one of the five North Down MLA seats, called for “transparency” over the fact the latest draft plans differ significantly from the previous ones.

The details of the map concerning North Down

The details of the map concerning North Down

“These boundaries are significantly different from those proposed previously,” he said.

“If the Boundary Commission wants to restore public faith and demonstrate that it is independent, it needs to publish the rationale for making such significant changes to the original proposal.”

Meanwhile Sinn Fein has called the plans “gerrymandering”.

Today it said that they would mean during Assembly election “there will be four constituencies with no nationalist representation whatsoever”, whereas every seat will have at least one unionist.

The DUP has said it mull over the plans before reacting.