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Last Updated: Friday, 16 May, 2003, 06:18 GMT 07:18 UK
NI constituencies under review
Houses of Parliament, Westminster
Northern Ireland currently has 18 seats at Westminster
A review of the boundaries of Northern Ireland's 18 Westminster seats has been announced.

The Boundary Commission will have to address the dwindling population of Belfast in its first review in eight years.

Back in 1995, the commission decided to increase the number of Westminster seats from 17 to 18.

However, the number of voters in all four constituencies in the city is well below average.

The latest electoral register reveals that the four Belfast constituencies have since suffered a drop in voters, with South Belfast suffering the most - it is now 17% below the average electorate.

The commission has a number of options, including extending the boundaries of all four seats, or turning the four constituencies into three.

There are other problems too. North Antrim is more than 15% above average.

The commission is expected to take its time before reaching any conclusions.

It could be late this year - or early next - before the provisional recommendations are published.

There will then be a period of public consultation and it is likely to be 2005 before the final decision is taken.

Dr Sydney Elliot of Queens University:
"All Belfast seats are approximately 16% or 17% under the quota"

Focus on boundary review
16 May 03  |  Northern Ireland


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