Attwood challenged over electoral boundary comments
Responding to Minister Alex Attwood’s claims that Sinn Féin had got it wrong in raising concerns over the issue of the work of the Boundary Commission and in particular the quality of the data released by the Commission for public scrutiny, Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy said:
“This gave a postcode by postcode breakdown of each new ward and allowed the general public and political parties the opportunity to examine in detail what was being proposed and the opportunity to query aspects of it if they so wished.
Murphy continued, “Sinn Féin was told by the Boundary Commission that the postcodes were unique to the new wards. The wards will form the base units of new District Electoral Areas (DEA’s) which will make up each of the 11 Councils.
“Sinn Féin discovered anomalies in the published spread sheets and raised our concerns with the Boundary Commission. The Boundary Commission acknowledged our concerns and altered the web-site data as late as September 2012.
“We are now being told that this information, put into the public domain by the Boundary Commission for public examination is merely ‘data’ with no value other than that. Furthermore in response to the BBC the authorities claimed to have used population as a basis for the construction of the wards.
“This was based on a number of information sources from as far back as 2001 and the 2008 election register, data which will be well out of date by the time the 2014 election comes around and for other elections thereafter.
He added, “The question that Minister Attwood needs to answer is how anyone other than Government appointed commissions or Agency’s, could properly scrutinize how the individual voter lists of the 462 wards came about.
“The reality is it is impossible for any member of the public or political party to make considered recommendations to the new DEA boundary commissioner when appointed due to the lack of clarity with the data provided by the outgoing Boundary Commissioner.
“If another system such as the ‘pointer’ system was used to construct the 462 wards then why is this not the information provided for public scrutiny?
“So instead of getting to grips with this problem, the Minister Alex Attwood has been briefed by the very officials who have created this mess and sought to use that inaccurate information to attack Sinn Féin. It would suit the Minister better if he got to grips with the issue and brought some focus to this instead of politicking.”