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Gerrymandering-A New Meaning?

"The glorified county council" statelet that calls itself Northern Ireland has a long, long history of voter manipulation, with various expedients used to deny its nationalist population fair representation in parliament, both at Stormont Castle in Belfast and Westminster Palace in London.

Initially the device most widely used was the gerrymandering of constituencies. Boundaries were drawn and redrawn in such a way as to ensure the governing Unionists retained power election after election. Applicants for jobs were chosen on the basis of religious discrimination against Nationalists. Public housing was allocated on the same basis. A Unionist employer enjoyed the privilege of voting twice in general elections, one vote for himself, and a second vote for his business firm.

All that is past history.

Not quite.

In preparation for next May's local elections to Stormont, seat of the presently suspended Northern Ireland Assembly, a new electoral registry has been compiled, cutting more than 100,000 from the existing list in highly significant electoral ridings.

A system unique to the Six Counties was introduced in order to compile the new registry.

Under this system, prospective voters are obliged to provide their national insurance number (SIN), date of birth, sign a special form, and state their nationality. Heads of household may no longer register family members.

It all sounds so familiar.

The most dramatic change is made in West Belfast, the riding held by Gerry Adams, well known nationalist and President of Sinn Fein. Almost 20% of its electorate has been stricken from the registry.

It is claimed that this will prevent voting fraud.

It is also claimed that this gives a new meaning to gerrymandering.

A cartoon dating back to the bad old days of Unionist domination under Lord Craigavon has been a permanent feature of this web site.

The 2001 Six County census figures tell their own story, a drop in the Protestant population to 53.1pc and a rise in the Catholic population to 43.8pc.

Among Protestants, 20.7pc declared themselves Presbyterian, 15.3pc Church of Ireland (Anglican) and 3.5pc Methodist.

A further 6.1pc said they belonged to other Protestant or Christian-related denominations and 0.3pc had other non-Christian religious beliefs.

The remaining 13.9pc did not answer the question about their religious beliefs.


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