The next round of Council elections will apparently be based upon the newly agreed boundaries. For those, like me, who like the detail, here is a complete set of maps inclusive of the new boundaries.
Essentially, what has happened is that in the West of the city, the highly nationalist majority Colin Glen area including Twinbrook, Dunmurray and Poleglass reverts from Lisburn back into the BCC zone while areas to the South West, Gilnahirk and Tullycarnet, which would be traditionally more unionist in nature are also included.
As may be seen on the right, the areas are geographically small but they are densely populated, particularly in the West.
The most contentious point however is the effect that this will have upon the balance of power in City Hall.
Currently, things are somewhat evenly poised:
24 Nationalists 21 Unionists and Alliance at 6.
Personally I view Alliance as a Unionist party which means only two seats would need to change hands to ensure a nationalist majority. However the new plan is to increase the number of councillors to 60 from 51 so the game changes somewhat.
We know from the Census results that Unionism is now a minority within Belfast, as well as within the six north eastern counties as a whole. Even Unionist politicians have conceded this fact. In fact, they appear to be upset at the prospect. After years of listening to “The majority of the People of Northern Ireland” being shoved down nationalist throats at every opportunity it will be interesting how Unionist politicians react to actually being the minority now in Belfast as forecast by Horseman.
As always things will boil down to votes cast rather than population statistics but I still maintain that the correllation between both is so close that population stats are a very good indication as to what will happen, particularly in 2015.
So what will happen?
Lets look at the 2011 results in the above mentioned wards and combine them with the 2011 BCC results. 🙂 (Here is my post on the Census results from January for comparison)
SF: 28,234 (30.9%), 16 councillors
DUP: 21,353 (23.4%), 15 councillors
SDLP: 12,547 (13.7%), 8 councillors
Alliance: 11,540 (12.6%), 6 councillors
UUP: 7,836 (8.6%), 3 councillors
PUP: 2,570 (2.8%), 2 councillors
Eirígí: 2,062 (2.3%)
Green: 1,320 (1.4%)
WP: 760 (0.8%)
IRSP: 588 (0.6%)
Soc: 434 (0.5%)
TUV: 349 (0.4%)
PBP: 321 (0.4%)
Cons: 103 (0.1%)
Pro Cap: 9 (0.01%)
Ind: 1,274 (1.4%), 1 councillor
That’s 93,481 votes cast.
The Five new wards (Summarised by religion brought up in and total population as a guide) consist of:
Poleglass 94% Catholic 3,781
Dunmurray 80.52% Catholic 4,379.
Twinbrook 89.76% Catholic 2,647
Tullycarnet 85.78% Protestant 2,419
Gilnahirk 81.21 Protestant 2,512.
It should be apparent that Belfast will soon be a nationalist controlled council. I fully expect that it will be run along similar lines to other nationalist controlled councils in that Unionists will have power shared with them proportionally and fairly. I also expect that what is important to Unionists in terms of “symbols” will be given due respect and reciprocated in full by Unionist majority councils.