Gildernew slams Boundary Commission over FoI bid
Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew has criticised the Boundary Commission over its failure to adequately respond to a number of Freedom of information requests relating to its controversial proposals to amend electoral boundaries here.
The Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA commented: “Sinn Féin has been very clear in our opposition to the current Boundary Commission proposals as have the many thousands of people who lodged objections during the public consultation process.
“The Commission amended their original 2016 proposals in favour of a new plan that closely mirrors a submission made by the DUP which would greatly benefit that party at the expense of thousands of nationalist voters right across the North.
“That is simply unacceptable and flies in the face of the Commission’s remit to distribute the electorate in a fair and equitable way across the new constituencies. It also prompted a huge amount of anger, as evidenced by the strength of the response to the consultation with at least 5,000 submissions being lodged, strongly objecting to the proposed new boundaries.
“It is also a decision which the Boundary Commission have failed to provide any justifiable explanation for reaching.
“That is why Sinn Féin submitted a number of Freedom of Information requests seeking details of the deliberations and evidence used to come to the conclusion they did.
“However, the only information the Boundary Commission were prepared to divulge is already in the public domain and they refused to provide notes and correspondence relating to their discussion, decision making and deliberations on the proposals. Ironically, one of the reasons they cite for not releasing the information is that it would not be in the public interest to do so.
“Clearly it is in the public interest for the electorate to be informed why such fundamental changes are being proposed to their democratic entitlement.
“This is yet another example of the Boundary Commission failing to justify its proposals and, in Sinn Féin’s view, that is because no justification is possible.
“The only way that the Boundary Commission can now begin to restore the damage they have caused to confidence in the process is by taking on board the consultation responses and returning to its original 2016 proposals.”