Very strong constituency links built up for years will be broken under new boundary proposals, Upper Bann MLA Doug Beattie has warned.
Responding to the possible changes announced today (Tuesday) by the Boundary Commission, Mr Beattie described them as “both surprising and challenging”.
Under the plans, which redraw the political map and reduce the number of constituencies from 18 to 17, Upper Bann would be transformed into Upper Bann and Blackwater.
Said Mr Beattie, “The new boundary scythes off most of what was Upper Bann including Banbridge, Donacloney, Gilford and Waringstown along with areas traditionally seen as Portadown.
“The new proposed boundary will push west and encompass parts of Tyrone including Dungannon, Coalisland and Caledon as well as the Armagh towns and villages of Loughgall, Moy and Blackwatertown.”
He added, “These new proposals break the very strong links between various constituency parts of North Armagh and Craigavon and the ties that have been built up over many years between individuals, elected members and the newly formed Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.
“It will leave many constituents confused as the political landscape will be changed beyond recognition in this electoral area.”
He said the Ulster Unionist Party needed to consider the changes and “where we feel they do not meet the needs of the people of Upper Bann then we will make representation to the commission”.
“In the meantime I will be speaking to my fellow MLA for Upper Bann Jo-Anne Dobson to discuss these changes and formulate our concerns which will form part of the Ulster Unionists’ overall response to the Boundary Commission proposal,” he said.