‘There can be no return to gerrymandering’ - Murphy
Thousands of nationalist voters will be left without any representation if controversial electoral boundary changes are not stopped, Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has said.
The Newry-Armagh MLA was speaking as Sinn Féin submitted a formal submission to the Boundary Commission consultation on the proposed new electoral boundaries.
“These boundary proposals have been branded a gerrymander for the 21st century and it’s easy to see why people have come to that conclusion,” he said.
“If they go ahead, at least four Assembly constituencies will be left without any nationalist representation whatsoever. The views of thousands of nationalist voters will effectively count for nothing and electoral boundaries at every level will be manipulated to give maximum advantage to the DUP.
“That is completely unacceptable. There can be no justification for it and the Boundary Commission have failed to produce any justification for it.”
The origins of the latest proposals are also a source of major concern, Conor Murphy added.
He commented: “The Boundary Commission was established in 2016 with a remit to reduce the number of constituencies from 18 to 17 and to distribute the electorate in a fair and equitable way across the new constituencies.
“They published proposals in 2017 which went some way to achieving that. However, these were radically revised in the face of DUP opposition and nobody could argue that the new plan represents fairness, given that it so blatantly advantages the DUP at the expense of the nationalist electorate.
“The Boundary Commission deny that a deliberate gerrymander is taking place at the behest of the DUP but they have failed to explain or justify the changes which will have such a negative impact on democracy and which fly in the face of their own remit.
“Sinn Féin has today submitted our proposals to the Commission which set out a fair and equitable way forward in line with accepted good practice and the Commission’s own remit. We would urge members of the public to also make submissions and demand fairness in the electoral process.
“There can be no return to the gerrymandering of the past. All votes should be equal and all citizens should be entitled to democratic representation.”